What do you get when you mix a professional bike race with a Panera located just a few blocks away — a hilarious mix of shaved legs, compression tights, team cars, and young 20-something men surfing the free wireless internet with their laptops. I just finished picking up my packet and then headed over to Panera for a pre-race meal. I have seen no less than five different teams represented with the latest being Champion-Porsche. I also got to say hi to Matt Winstead (a fellow Alabamian) riding for Team Inferno. Also represented in Panera — Mountain Khakis, Rock Racing and myself TriaMarket/DonohooAuto.com. I wasn’t sure if I was going to be eligible for this race with an amateur/cat 1 license — but I’ve been given the all clear and I’m excited about the time trial starting in a few hours. The word from one of the volunteers at packet pick-up was 115 pre-registered, and 25 no-shows so far. I would expect that would equate to about a field of 100 riders — much larger than last year, but still a much more manageable number than the 185 at Cascades!
Today is the start of the 3-stage Tour of Elk Grove with over $152,000 prize money. I am hoping to crack the Top 25 on stages 2 and 3 to help pay for our trip in addition to the generous sponsorships I have received. With the overall GC likely to be separated by less than a minute largely determined by today’s 4.5 mile time trial, I do not have any GC ambitions unless I can sneak into an unexpected break tomorrow or Sunday. The field here is sure to be very strong with Chris Horner from Astana as well as strong teams from Kelly-Benefits, Rock Racing, Bissell, Jelly Belly, and maybe BMC?