Monday, February 18, 2008

Pedals to the metal

Crank up the Queen: It's "Bicycle Race" time.

The Amgen Tour of California gets under way today. In fact, it's already under way, but I don't get up as early in the morning as professional cyclists do.

This event is of local interest for two reasons:

One, today's first stage of the race ends — and tomorrow's second stage begins — right here in my own backyard. Well, not literally in my backyard, but a mere stone's chuck to the north in Santa Rosa's Courthouse Square. The "no parking" signs were already out in full force throughout downtown when I was there yesterday morning.

Two, our hometown two-wheeling hero Levi Leipheimer is the Tour's defending champion. Levi, riding for Team Astana this year, is again favored to win the Tour. Levi — the current USA Cycling National Road Race Champion — will doubtless be hungry to repeat, especially since Astana has just been banned from competing in this year's Tour de France, due to doping allegations involving competitors who were members of the team before Levi signed on.

On the latter point, there's an online petition aimed at encouraging the Tour de France organizers to reconsider their decision and admit Levi and his Astana teammates to the Tour. I've already signed. I'm sure that Levi would appreciate your support as well, if you're so inclined.

We here at SSTOL wish Levi a swift, smooth ride in the Tour of California.

Sad to say, no fat-bottomed girls are competing.

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