Liveblogging the Tour of California Prologue

02.14.2009 | 4:03 pm

This year’s Tour of California is maybe the most exciting race to happen in at least three months. Maybe longer, but at least three months. Let’s not quibble about the time period. That’s not what this is about.

What this is about, however, is the fact that Landis, Hamilton, Armstrong and Basso are all racing against each other for the next several days. And frankly I never expected to see that happen again.

So hey. I think I’ll liveblog it.

3:04: What? Craig Hummer is alongside Phil and Paul? Where is Al Trautwig?! I DEMAND AL TRAUTWIG.

3:06: Phil’s going through the who’s who. He reveals that Armstrong being here is a big deal. This, my friends, is why Phil’s perspective is so crucial.

3:08: First commercials. Here’s where we get to find out what ads we’re going to see over and over and over and over and over for the next ten days.

3:09: We start out with an Amgen ad. That makes sense, but why should Amgen advertise to a bunch of cyclists? It makes no sense. It’s not like cyclists are a target audience for their products, are we? Oh.

3:10: Ads for Sears, The Watchmen (very excited for that film), and Las Vegas follow. I’m looking forward to coming to loathe each of these commercials over the next several days.

3:11: Now let’s learn about the route. Except we’re not seeing the route. We’re seeing pictures of the sea and the state capitol and mountains. Nobody learns anything from these route previews. Is Versus required by law to do this kind of preview?

3:13: When Paul says a stage “showcases the beauty of the whosamawassit valley,” do you suppose anyone in the world besides the person who’s job it is to make sure the Tour talks about how beautiful California is buys in?

3:15: “Sadly I have to agree with Phil,” says Paul. Paul, don’t be sad. I’m sad when you’re sad.

3:17: An ad from Rabobank? I had no idea that it even had branches in the US. Which means I just learned something from an ad.

3:18: The twins are now saying “Rabobank Rabobank Rabobank” over and over, and giggling hysterically. I never knew before what a funny word that is. But it is. Try saying it out loud, several times. It sounds like something the Hamburgler would say.

3:19: PureSleep is evidently a mouthpiece that smothers you so you stop snoring. Just ordered one; Kenny’s birthday present is now taken care of.

3:20: Oh good! A little bit of background about this new racer guy known as “Lance Armstrong!” I think we’ll hear more from this youngster someday.

3:21: Ha. A quick cut away from the Lancefest to briefly show a racer. But then the executive decision is made: the Lance montage is more important than the race.

3:23: And now, Levi is selling us some California.

3:24: “I’m a vegetarian because I love animals.” That’s funny, I’m a meat eater for the exact same reason!

3:25: Here’s an interesting bit of inside information. Chuck Ibis himself is working behind the scenes at the Tour of California. He’s mentioned to me that he might do some Twittering during the race. He hasn’t started yet, but hopefully we’ll see some interesting insights and hilarity here: .

3:26: Craig Hummer just said of the Garmin/Slipstream Team: “They’re not just here to stay, they’re here to win.” A Jab at Rock Racing?

3:32: Floyd’s turn to be talked about. Nobody is talking about the suspension. Versus evidently taking the “Let bygones be bygones” approach. Good.

3:36: OK, I’ve been here for more than half an hour and have seen no racing, but I believe we’re into the seventh commercial break. I sure am glad I tuned in live.

3:37: Next stage, I Tivo-blog. And I don’t start watching until at least 90 minutes has elapsed.

3:38: So evidently they hired someone named Rasika to do little comedy pieces, acting like she has no idea about cycling. That’s hilarious! Except it wasn’t.

3:39: And now Mark Cavendish is making coffee. And riding. And petting a dog. And speaking in an adorable accent.

3:42: Rabobank Rabobank Rabobank!

3:43: More ads, after which we are promised more about Lance Armstrong! Here’s the thing. I actually decided to watch this race because I am interested in Armstrong’s comeback. However, as I face the likelihood that I will have watched a full hour of fluff before I see any racing at all, my enthusiasm for this comeback is fading fast.

3:46: Yeah, Craig, I’ll be sure to watch that hockey game. I’ll set the Tivo to record it right after the bullriding event.

3:47: I still find it jarring to see Armstrong in an Astana jersey.

3:48: It makes me glad to hear Armstrong say that he’s here to be a domestique for Leipheimer.

3:49: Oh, good. More ads. I haven’t seen ads since six minutes ago.

3:51: I wonder how much it would cost for me to buy a 30-second TV ad? $50? $100?

3:52: I would love to see Zabriskie win the prologue today.

3:53: Hey, there’s Bob Roll. Hi, Bob! Your voice is cracking. Also, it’s time for you to get rid of that little fin of hair on the top of your head.

3:55: Magically, we are now watching the race, pretty darned far in progress. I’m not at all disappointed in the fact that I’ve watched an hour of fluff instead of the race that I tuned in for. Al Trautwig would never have stood for this, I’ll tell you that much.

3:57: More commercials. Makes sense. It’s been almost five minutes.

4:00: Only one comment so far (thanks, solidjack!). Which means I’m mostly doing this for myself. Yay for me doing stuff for myself!

4:01: Floyd’s being interviewed. His focus is to make sure his hip is good. Has he seen the race roster? Why yes he has. Nice interview, Mr. Roll. Versus is certainly getting his money’s worth out of Bob today.

4:03: Andy Jacques-Maynes racing for the Bissel squad. I had no idea any vacuum cleaner manufacturer had a pro team. I hereby assert that my next vacuum cleaner will be a Bissel. If they’re on sale.

4:06: A Tempurpedic mattress ad. To me, those mattresses look terrible, like you just sink into and are eventually suffocated by them. Anyone else out there terrified of Tempurpedic beds?

4;08: Tyler Farrar (Slipstream) racing now. It looks like he’s wearing a sleeveless jersey — with “Garmin” actually magic-markered on his arm. I’m not the only one to notice that, right? Also, people are wearing coats outside. What’s with the sleeveless jersey? Looking to impress the ladies with your vestigial arms?

4:10: Wow, I’m really interested in what Patrick Dempsey thinks. He just listed some of the people in the race, and says he’s starstruck by them. Which is incredible. I mean, that a VERY IMPORTANT TELEVISION STAR would be starstruck by athletes. That’s just crazy.

4:12: Oh, Tyler’s not wearing a sleeveless jersey. It’s just that the long-sleeve jersey has an argyle diamond that’s very flesh colored. And Tyler’s now in fifth place. Nice work, Tyler.

4:14: Has anyone seen any “Keirin Cut Jeans” chalkings on the road yet? I’m curious as to whether Beth’s campaign is working.

4:15: And here comes Chris Baldwin with Rock Racing. I believe he is wearing the jersey of the day: Crusifixion in Black And White With Just a Smidgen of Revenge. Buy yours today! Only $13,000.00. Cheap!

4:17: Ads!

4:19: Bob Roll asks Lance what he thinks of the race roster in the Tour of California. Is Rob only allowed to ask this single question? Is it possible that anyone in the universe could do a worse job of asking these guys questions?

4:21: Oscar Freire is on the course. Racing for Rabobank. Rabobank! Rabobank! Rabobank!

4:24: A shot of Fabian Cancellera, warming up and wearing sparkly gold sunglasses. I don’t believe that I could pull that look off.

4:25: You know what this bike race needs? More ads!

4:28: Astute commenter BornFelt asks, “Have you heard that Lance is coming back? Who knew?” It’s an intriguing question, BornFelt, and I will look into it.

4:29: Tom Zirbel rides for Bissel! Zirbel for Bissel! Bissel’s Zirbel! Rabobank Rabobank Rabobank!

4:30: Team Jelly Belly’s team car is a Lexus. Which raises the question: who approved the Jelly Belly color scheme on a Lexus?

4:31: Bob Roll asks Tyler Hamilton if he wants to race fast. Hamilton punches Bob Roll in the throat. Hamilton’s changed. By the way, I made the part about Hamilton punching Bob Roll in the throat. But not the rest.

4:33: An ad for the Monster energy drink. Followed by a Pizza Hut ad. I believe those two things would go great together.

And now, back-to-back Enzyte commercials. TV now on mute.

4:35: Thor Hushovd is now in first. Go Thor!

4:36: Hincapie out of the starting gate. Here’s a question. Is there a single person in the whole world who doesn’t think George is a great guy?

4:37: Hamilton out of the gate. Paul makes fun of his position. I find myself unable to not root for Hamilton. In spite of his team.

4:38: And Zabriskie’s out of the gate. I wonder what kind of chamois cream he’s using?

4:39: Crowd goes wild as Armstrong goes down the ramp. Armstrong does a bunch of standing as he rides.

4:40: Hincapie coming down the home stretch. 2nd place by .21 seconds. Nice try, George.

4:41: Here comes Hamilton. 64th place.

4:42: Basso out of the gate. You know, this is not a particularly weak field at this race.

Zabriskie is now in first! Remember when earlier I said I’d love to have Zabriskie win this prologue?

4:43: Here comes Lance. Gonna beat Zabriskie? No way. 7th place. He should be able to give Leipheimer some good beta from that.

4:44: Landis is out.

Vandevelde on his way in. 19th place.

4:45: Leipheimer out of the gate. That guy looks focused.

Cancellera takes first, with a 2.X advantage. He must not have known about how I wanted Zabriskie to win.

4:46: Basso coming down the home stretch. finishes in millionth place.

4:47: Here’s Michael Rogers. 3rd place. Nice.

Here comes Floyd. C’mon Floyd.

He’s not even close. He finished in the top 100, I think.

4:49: Here comes Leipheimer. 2nd, with a 1.2 second deficit. A good prologue for him. Strategically perfect, really.

I have just discovered that it’s just as easy to liveblog as to simply watch TV. So I think I’ll do this for at least a few more stages.

Hey, let’s see how they wrap this up. Maybe Bob Roll will have some more awesome interviews.

4:56: Zzzzzzzz.

4:57: Which is more irritating: Al Trautwig or Craig Hummer? Why? Provide examples.

4:58: Tomorrow: 3 mountain passes, 107.6 miles. 4:00pm Mountain time, which is the time we all reckon by.

4:59: Craig Hummer sounds desperate. Running out of things to say. Schwarzanegger looks wrinkly.

That’s it. Should I do the next stage this way? Or not?

PS: OK, I’m doing this again at least tomorrow. 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT). Though I reserve the right to take naps during the pre-game show.


  1. Comment by solidjack | 02.14.2009 | 4:32 pm

    “Not just hear to stay, hear to win” – Dig at Rock Racking? Nice.

  2. Comment by bornfelt | 02.14.2009 | 5:26 pm

    I’m reading! Btw, have you heard that Lance is coming back? Who knew?

  3. Comment by Don | 02.14.2009 | 5:28 pm

    WOOOO!!! JUST found out they added VS to my package. I CAN WATCH THE TOUR!

  4. Comment by Don | 02.14.2009 | 5:29 pm

    WHOA! I posted too soon… Just read Bornfelts post. LANCE IS BACK?! When did that happen?
    *heh heh heh

  5. Comment by Jennifer | 02.14.2009 | 5:29 pm

    I miss Kristen Gum. Heh.

  6. Comment by Bill | 02.14.2009 | 5:42 pm

    Woot! Go DAVE!!!!

  7. Comment by Julie | 02.14.2009 | 5:58 pm

    Stop by the new site for the Grueling Triathlon of Doom. We’re raising money for your Livestrong team!

  8. Comment by Di | 02.14.2009 | 5:59 pm

    If you do this during the TdF, I am SO here. I don’t have tv, right now, so I’m missing out on all the commercials. Darn.

  9. Comment by Bill | 02.14.2009 | 6:03 pm

    Continue to do it this way, Fatty.

    Freakin’ hilarious!

  10. Comment by AmyFog | 02.14.2009 | 6:05 pm

    I’ll be all over the Keirin Cut Campaign on Tuesday. Top of Sierra Road!

  11. Comment by jason | 02.14.2009 | 6:07 pm

    We vote for live blogging during the broad/webcast. Really, can you have too many snarky commentators?

    jason & kristin (thousand oaks, ca)

  12. Comment by Katee | 02.14.2009 | 6:08 pm

    Thanks for liveblogging! I really should have been live-following-alonging. If you continue this live blogging idea, I’ll be back and I’ll be here on time next time.

  13. Comment by Farthing | 02.14.2009 | 6:14 pm

    Please please please please please continue this. Your commentary is infinitely better than versus’.

  14. Comment by Barbara | 02.14.2009 | 6:15 pm

    Love the live blog, Fatty – except you didn’t comment on that incredibly inane “interview” that female comic (new VS commentator they all pretended to find so amusing) did with one of the cyclists, trying to be funny by knowing nothing. GET HER OUT OF HERE!

    The biggest difference between Al Trautwig and Craig Hummer (who got more tolerable every day during last year’s TdF) is that Craig has a very annoying voice, and Al has a wonderful announcer voice.

  15. Comment by Dana | 02.14.2009 | 6:20 pm

    Had we had known you were posting live updates we would have tuned in sooner, and turned of Phil, Paul and that other guy who took Al’s place. (BTW, we are STILL laughing at 3:24!!!)

  16. Comment by Debra MacLaughlan-Dumes | 02.14.2009 | 6:21 pm

    You might try for complete coverage, very handy during the Versus commercial breaks and montages of cute cycling guys hugging dogs. You can mute the TV and still see the deal thing.

    Phil and Paul were announcing here at the start of the race. For a few minutes they didn’t know that their mikes were on and they both said some rather amusing things, most of which don’t normally go out over the airwaves.

  17. Comment by fatty | 02.14.2009 | 6:31 pm

    barbara – actually i did comment on that incredibly inane interview. check my 3:38 post. and i agree: GET HER OUT OF HERE!

    everyone – OK, i’m going to do this again tomorrow. 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT)

  18. Comment by bikemike | 02.14.2009 | 6:48 pm

    if you went into any American bank and just said the word “Rabobank”, would you get arrested?

  19. Comment by Charisa | 02.14.2009 | 7:02 pm

    Firstly (is that a word??) I LOVE that you did the ENTIRE prologue! Secondly I have not yet watched my DVRd version and now I’m even more excited!

  20. Comment by Dan | 02.14.2009 | 7:05 pm

    Commentary is ok. You said a couple of funny things, good warm-up. I say keep going, but reserve the right to beg you to stop.

    PS: There’s a Rabobank in Solvang.

  21. Comment by bornfelt | 02.14.2009 | 7:21 pm

    No contest: Trautwig more annoying than Hummer. Hummer is somewhat vapid. Trautwig is a complete idiot who knows absolutely nothing about cycling despite covering it for several years.

  22. Comment by devin mccune | 02.14.2009 | 8:00 pm

    Keep it up Fatty. Your post(s) were way better then the coverage. Tomorrow it is tv on mute and play by play with Fat Cyclist.

  23. Comment by KanyonKris | 02.14.2009 | 8:19 pm

    Genius idea, and good commentary.

    A friend tried one of those Tempurpedia mattresses and he did feel like he was being slowly digest by The Blob.

  24. Comment by Andrea | 02.14.2009 | 8:30 pm

    “Schwarzenegger looks wrinkly.”
    My thoughts exactly.

  25. Comment by TeeBone | 02.14.2009 | 8:45 pm

    If god didn’t want us to eat animals, then why did he make them out of meat.

  26. Comment by Scrod | 02.14.2009 | 9:34 pm

    Thanks for wasting your afternoon so I didn’t have to! Thinking out loud – is Bob Rolle cycling’s answer to John Madden?

  27. Comment by WheelDancer | 02.14.2009 | 9:41 pm

    Great commentary, keep it up!

    All the humor, none of the commercials and only Bob Roll jabs without his voice.

  28. Comment by Garmon | 02.14.2009 | 10:02 pm


    All the excitement and I don’t have to watch the commercials over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over…..

  29. Comment by Ryan | 02.14.2009 | 10:52 pm


    Thanks for carrying out this great public service!

    I was at a conference all day and was upset about not getting to watch the race live (we also don’t have a tivo)… but then I read your blog and realized that I was glad I didn’t get to watch it.

    I also remembered why I hate versus so much: all those infernal adds and banal puff pieces at the prologue could have ruined the race for me for the rest of the week…

    Thanks for reporting so I don’t have to sit through it!

  30. Comment by chris | 02.14.2009 | 11:06 pm

    gawd that lady was awful wasn’t she. Comedians in general usually sound pretty desperate and seem to try to hard, but when you make a joke and it is incongruous then it really sucks – her shifting reference and I drive a manual comment. Who was the guy that sounded like he had the mic lodged in his throat – bah, rather be out riding myself, praise TIVO. It was so captivating that I fell asleep.

  31. Comment by Hilslug | 02.14.2009 | 11:14 pm

    I was waiting for you to write that the twins were going to start yelling “Liquigas, Liquigas, Liquigas” as that word would be more fun. Also, when I attended the Tour last year, Bissel sponsored the broom wagon, an appropriate combination. I look forward to your Tour of CA commentaries.

  32. Comment by Vince | 02.14.2009 | 11:39 pm


  33. Comment by Nancy | 02.15.2009 | 12:13 am

    Nice coverage! You didn’t spend much time on the pathetic and embarrassing award ceremony. Cancellara kept trying to go up on the podium and each time he was “encouraged” to go elsewhere.

  34. Comment by Tinker | 02.15.2009 | 1:03 am

    A Tempurpedic mattress ad. To me, those mattresses look terrible, like you just sink into and are eventually suffocated by them. Anyone else out there terrified of Tempurpedic beds?

    No, I at least am concerned that my muscles will get all painful, and then I’d have to take more drugs to help me fall asleep on my conventional mattress set. (I tried to get my wife to agree to get a temperature sensitive foam mattress, but she was sure the 1 1/2″ ‘pillow top’ made of temperature sensitive foam was the way to go). And now she cannot get to sleep on the mattress, as it is SO hard. (I am waiting for the other shoe to drop.)

    I have a wheelchair cushion that uses the same foam (but denser) and it works amazingly well. I can even sit on that pad and remain seated for about two hours.

  35. Comment by anon | 02.15.2009 | 2:54 am

    stage 3 at patterson pass has more “keirin cut” signage than you can imagine. keep an eye out for it on tuesday.

  36. Comment by Matthew | 02.15.2009 | 3:46 am

    I listen to what Paul says about the places along the route. After each Tour de France, where he does the same thing, I have a new selection of beautiful places where I could load up the tourer and go. And I probably will. There are just too few holidays and too many places to ride.

  37. Comment by Lizzylou | 02.15.2009 | 6:31 am

    I must say I infinately enjoyed that… much more informative than that stuff that posts.

    Although, my boyfriend, who was forced to listen to me reading the good bits outloud to him was less than impressed. (Apparently the jokes aren’t funny if you don’t know who those people are.)

  38. Comment by BrokeMBA | 02.15.2009 | 8:09 am

    I see that VS has not changed in the slightest. Thanks to TiVo, I will start watching the stage you so elloquently…ahem…described 90 minutes into it. Through your linquistic prowess, I could almost see and feel the maddening fluff and hours of non-racing action. I might try instead. They sent me an email saying they had highlights for free…we’ll see…

    All the best to you and Susan…and of course the Rabbobank twins. LOL

  39. Comment by Shiny Flu | 02.15.2009 | 8:13 am

    Rabobank. The best bank for Raboing: raa-bowing Continually saying Rabobank for kicks.

    PS: I’m digging the Fatty Commentary. Giving me a good laugh.

  40. Comment by Kali Durga | 02.15.2009 | 8:42 am

    Fatty, man, I love ya… but you’re no Schmalz. I’m reserving judgment on your race coverage for a few stages.

    That said, I definitely agree with you that Dave Z should’ve won the prologue. He should also replace Bob Roll if all Roll’s gonna do is one-question interviews.

  41. Comment by Island Girl | 02.15.2009 | 9:14 am

    This is unrelated to the tour of California post, but I didn’t know where else to post this. I just purchased a Fat Cyclist Wool Jersey, size Large, on the Friday when Twin Six were donating profits to LAF. Unfortunately, the Large is WAY too big for me. Twin Six were awesome and tried to find me a smaller size, but those jerseys sold out quickly! I don’t want to send it back to Twin Six, although I am sure they would sell it again in a heartbeat, but it doesn’t seem fair to send it back when I just ordered the wrong size. So here is the thing. If anyone has a smaller FC wool jersey which they would like to trade for, I will send them my Large wool Jersey, AND donate $150 to the LAF for Team Fatty. If no-one has a smaller jersey that they are willing to trade for the Large, then if someone else is willing to donate $150 to Team Fatty, and send me proof of that donation, I will send them my Large FC wool jersey, no further charge.
    Let me know if anyone is interested. If easier, you can email me directly at
    I hope the jersey finds a happy home – it really is awesome, but I drown it. Guess I should have looked at the sizing guide more closely. Or eaten more doughnuts this year…

  42. Comment by carson | 02.15.2009 | 9:15 am

    So what’s up with the electronic gear shifting stuff that I just read about in the NY Times? They said it was supposed to debut in this race. You’d a thunk the stooges might have given that a mention.

  43. Comment by JT | 02.15.2009 | 9:39 am

    I totally endorse the live-blog concept during the Tour de California.

    I am humbled to realize that you and I had the exact same thoughts at practically the exact same times a couple of times during the prologue (e.g. Bob Roll’s fin of hair, the sleeveless jersey w/ magic marker, but not, thankfully the musing about chamois cream).

    Keep it up, Fatty.

  44. Comment by fatty | 02.15.2009 | 9:44 am

    kali durga – i don’t get the schmalz reference. is that the name of an especially good or funny sports announcer?

    if you’re talking about schmaltz on the other hand, i think i can safely contend that i have it aplenty.

  45. Comment by Lucky Cyclist | 02.15.2009 | 10:47 am

    I could watch Bob Roll all day. The problem is that after any Bobke exposure, I gesture wildly and end every sentence with my hands together touching only fingertips.
    Trautwig is a tool.

  46. Comment by Rick | 02.15.2009 | 11:46 am


  47. Comment by Animator Thom | 02.15.2009 | 12:15 pm

    That was one of the funniest live blogcasts I’ve read. Thanks for suffering through the Vs. coverage to remind those of us watching online what we’re missing.

  48. Comment by Jenni | 02.15.2009 | 1:50 pm

    I thought it was a cutout on his arm too, flesh colored jerseys, there’s a thought. How much could we all save by just riding topless? The emperor’s new jersey…

  49. Comment by Dobovedo | 02.15.2009 | 2:06 pm

    Jenni, if you want to ride topless, you’re welcome at my ride anytime! ;-)

  50. Comment by Nick | 02.15.2009 | 5:00 pm

    “Looking to impress the ladies with your vestigial arms?”

    Ha! I had to wipe soda off my screen after that line.

    I agree about Hincapie. In all his interviews, he seems like a decent, humble guy, and it’s nice to see him riding for himself after working for Armstrong for so long.

  51. Comment by Billy Savage | 02.15.2009 | 5:02 pm

    I don’t need VS when I have FC. Thanks Fatty!

  52. Comment by Brian | 02.16.2009 | 11:16 am

    Sounds like VS is doing an impersonation of NBC’s coverage of the Olympics. Lots of inane background, but no coverage of what people are tuning in for – the event!

    Trautwig/Hummer. Of course Trautwig is more irritating. Any hummer I’ve had has been delightful!

  53. Comment by Meredith | 02.16.2009 | 11:01 pm

    “Schwarzenegger looks wrinkly.”
    My thoughts exactly.

    Hahhahaha!!!! if you look closely where his ear is joined to his face you will notice that the spray on tan didn’t take because his face lift scar is there. That neck isn’t natural. It looks like a turkey neck that has been blasted in a wind tunnel.Love the commentary!!! We live here in kalifornia, yah!!Its raining more than usual but we need the water!!Hummer is a boob give me Al any day!!! RABBOBANK!! I am so NOT curious about natural male enhancement!!


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