Tour of California LiveBlog: Stage 4, Merced to Clovis

02.18.2009 | 3:28 pm

This should be one of the most exciting stages of the whole Tour. A 105 mile course, with what looks like around 6,000 feet of climbing (I just pulled that number out of my butt), and a big ol 35 mile working descent to the finish line.

Sounds like a job for a strong GC guy.

My liveblogging will be even lamer than usual today, because I’ve got other fish to fry.

Check me out, trying to lower your expectations in spite of the fact that you expect me to be pretty darned lame.

First though, how about that Velonews live coverage shout out?

Ibis Cycles’ Scot Nicol, an old friend of the VeloNews gang, has been working with Elden “Fatty” Nelson to raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. It’s a two-fer – if you contribute, you’ll be helping fight cancer while ensuring that Bob Roll finally shaves what little hair is left atop what you will surely agree is a very odd head. Says Scot: “Our original goal was $5,000 but we managed to raise that in about 20 hours. Now I’m working on getting some more incentives so people will keep donating. Stay tuned for news on that.” If you’d like to contribute, click here:

Thanks, Velonews guys!

Liveblog starts rrrright now.

2:48 What’d I miss?

2:51 Carnage on the ground.

Floyd has crashed. Now we learn exactly how useful that “OUCH” jersey is. Say, for example, you crash, and the wind is knocked out of you. You can’t speak at all.

What do you do? Just point at your jersey!

2:53 I still don’t know what’s going on. Versus is not helping me. let’s see what CyclingNews says.

  • Serge Pauwels (Cervélo TestTeam), Jason McCartney (Team SaxoBank), Tyler Hamilton (Rock Racing)
  • Peloton at 4:00

Thanks, CyclingNews!

2:55 Dug IM’s me with the observation, “They’re at stage 4 and Hamilton is thirty minutes back? Did he stop and take pictures during one of the stages or something?”

It’s a good question. Why is Hamilton 30 minutes behind Leipheimer? And I don’t want anyone telling me that nonsense about him being out of shape because he’s been busy with family problems. That’s an excuse for being 10 minutes back, not 30.

2:57 Hummer goes out to the ad with the observation that “These crashes can happen with only a moment’s notice!”

Actually, Craig, if there were a moment’s notice, the crashes wouldn’t happen at all.

3:08 OK, had to take care of some stuff. And I return to YET ANOTHER CRASH.

You know what I suspect? I suspect that the cyclists have forgotten how to ride on dry roads.

3:09 So, the best GC guy in the breakaway is Jason McCartney. A little known fact is that he is the cousin of Paul McCartney’s daughter!

I just made that up!

3:11 The race leaders are on the final big climb. I know that Hamilton, when he feels like it, descends like a madman.

I hereby am officially rooting for a Tyler Hamilton win.

Anyone want to join me in rooting for Tyler?

3:13 We go to ads.

3:15 The lead group is 6:30 ahead.

3:16 Has anyone ever satisfactorily explained why Hamilton does that rocking side to side thing when he rides?

3:17 Has anyone ever satisfactorily explained why Tyler’s hair is so long now? Looks like it weighs a pound and a half.

Maybe that’s why he’s a half hour behind.

3:18 The announcers are talking about the LiveStrong foundations. Seems like a GREAT MOMENT TO TALK ABOUT HOW BOB ROLL IS GOING TO SHAVE HIS HEAD.

3:23 Hummer makes a good observation: the snow is pretty deep. Earlier today, in fact, there was a tire chain advisory on this road. Amazing that it’s dry now. Nice work, whoever plowed the road.

3:25 And we go to ads. Except since I’ve got open in a background window, the video never ends.

This makes me feel like writing a letter to the Internet.

Dear Internet,

I love you.

Kind Regards,

The Fat Cyclist

3:26 Back from ads!

3:27 By the way, Bob Roll has not yet cut his hair. Chuck Ibis tells me, though, that Lance was giving Bob grief, saying he’s got to do it. I hope they broadcast that interview.

3:28 The video on the web is about 10 seconds behind the Versus video. Just in case you’re curious.


3:32 Nope, not a word.

3:33: Are they tormenting me on purpose? Cuz I’m starting to take this a little personally.

By the way, I’d like to take this rare moment of ads to point out that today is really hectic for me. I mean, really, really hectic. I’m going to have to drop out at 3:45 or so, and will resume around 5:00pm.

At which point, this will become a Tivo-blog of the stage.

However, please feel free to liveblog this stage in my absence, through the medium of commenting with any ol’ race-related thing that pops into your head.

Hey, that’s what I’m doing. But you knew that already.

3:36 Motorcycle speedometer looks like the lead group, going downhill, is going around 35-42 mph.

Any road cyclist knows that’s slow for a pro downhill. Heck, I go that fast on road downhills. Faster even.

So why so slow?

3:38 Looks like a working downhill. The lead group has to work together. They won’t keep the gap otherwise.

3:41 That comedian woman again. How did she get this job? I really want to know who they chose her over.

3:42 I gotta go. I’ll continue blogging this in a couple hours.

Carry on without me. I’ll miss you.

5:55 OK, I’m back. Now hunting for where I left off on the Tivo. The thing is, I couldn’t just pause when I left, because Susan wanted to finish watching this stage.

5:57 I’m trying to figure out if there’s any reason at all for me to liveblog a stage that ended just about an hour ago.

Then it occurs to me that there’s no real reason for me to liveblog the stages when they’re live. I mean, there’s nobody who’s actually coming to my site for their race info, right? Right?

I mean, that would be like going to the Daily Show for your news.

A lobotomized Daily Show, sure, but you get my point.

6:07 Craig is saying they’ve saved the best for last, with the intimation being that this is both the best and last. Maybe they’ve told Hummer that today’s the last stage.

6:09 It looks like I’ve got about an hour left on this recording, which freaks me out, because I could run out of recording before I run out of race.

6:11 OK, I’ve finally found the spot where I had to leave off. Yay!

The thing is, I don’t dare to look at comments or any other site or even my own, because I hate the idea of finding out how this ends without watching it myself.

6:13 The way Paul describes it, the peloton is going to catch the lead group. High Road and Quick Step working the front.

6:15 Bob Roll talks with Specialized. Yay for free advertising?

You know what would make some good free advertising, Bob? How about TALKING ABOUT THE WAY YOU RAISED $6500 TO FIGHT CANCER BY SHAVING YOUR HEAD?

6:17 You know what’s really cool? That commercials go by really fast when you’ve tivo’d a show.

6:24 You know, when you can fast forward, the temptation to do so becomes almost irresistable.

I have watched 6-hour stages of the TdF in about 30 minutes thanks to this universal truth.

6:25 Versus has decided to stop talking about the race. They’re talking about the spectators. Why look, fast-forwarding works on this, too!

6:26 The sharp edge of the peloton is hauling on this downhill. I just can’t imagine the breakaway succeeding. Too bad, because I have committed to root for Hamilton.

6:30 It seems unlikely to me that Leipheimer will win a stage, unless he somehow wins the time trial.

I would suggest that when someone wins a stage race without winning a stage, their final yellow jersey get a giant asterisk get screened onto it.

6:34 A clever little montage on Levi. His wife says of their dog, “He’s so skinny and tiny, just like Levi!”

I’m sure that Levi’s teammates give him no grief at all about that comment.

6:36 Hummer said “break the wind” again.


6:37 Oh no. I’ve got about 10 minutes worth of recording left. And much, much more race to go. Hamilton and Co. just hit the flat.

Gap’s down to 2:15. I may be forced to use powerful brainwaves to affect the outcome of this race.

Which is not easy to do, considering that the outcome of the race is an historical fact.

So I will have to really, really concentrate.

6:39 2 minute gap with 15 miles to go. Piffle.

It occurs to me that one of the great things about not being a journalist is I don’t have to pretend to be remotely objective.

6:43 Well. The recording just ended. Perfect. I shall now go read how the race went, and then surprise and delight you by summarizing as if I were commenting in real-time.

6:50 The peloton is closing in on the lead group!

30 seconds!

Now 20!



6:51 The peloton has caught the breakaway group!

6:52 Teams are battling back and forth, positioning themselves for the big sprint!

6:53 I am eating an avocado and turkey sandwich! It is very delicious! I highly recommend Gulden’s Spicy Brown Mustard!

6:54 Mark Cavendish gets the win! Oh my goodness!

PS: I cannot liveblog tomorrow, but I have high hopes that I might be able to get someone from the core team — or perhaps Al Maviva, if he’s interested — to take my place.


  1. Comment by Tim D | 02.18.2009 | 2:37 pm

    no worries. I am running 20 ish hours behind anyway. Just watching yesterday’s stage. I sent the Eurosport guys another email re the Shave Bob Challenge, but no mention yet.

    By the way, an hour and a half into the Eurosport coverage and so far two very short ad breaks.

  2. Comment by Farthing | 02.18.2009 | 2:40 pm

    I wish Versus’ coverage was half as good as that sounds.

    Can I get Eurosport in the states?

  3. Comment by Scott | 02.18.2009 | 2:42 pm

    Ha, on AToC’s tracker, Frankie just yelled at Joe not to eat pistachios on air. It was hilarious.

  4. Comment by Susie | 02.18.2009 | 2:44 pm

    You also got a shout out on at (about half way down the page).

  5. Comment by KanyonKris | 02.18.2009 | 2:47 pm

    Load up on Nyquil if you want your live blogging to be more bizarre. Looking forward to it, regardless of your level of lucidity.

    Please don’t pull numbers out of your butt. Leads to scaring of the large intestine.

    P.S. Small typo – first sentence “exiting”

  6. Comment by Kali Durga | 02.18.2009 | 2:57 pm

    Kris, is there also a typo in the second sentence? Or do your intestines just get frightened more easily than other folks’?

  7. Comment by Kali Durga | 02.18.2009 | 2:58 pm

    And of course, I meant *your* second sentence, not Fatty’s. Oy…

  8. Comment by KanyonKris | 02.18.2009 | 3:02 pm

    Kali – Funny and karmic. Hey, Elden, can you fix my typo when you fix yours?

  9. Comment by eric | 02.18.2009 | 3:09 pm

    I predict Floyd trying to get away on one of the climbs.

  10. Comment by Liggett junkie | 02.18.2009 | 3:25 pm

    I hope Comedian Girl will have another segment today. I get it now. She is not an idiot, but a sophisticated cycling fan wickedly satirizing Paul sit-still-while-I-insult-you Kimmage.

  11. Comment by Anonymous | 02.18.2009 | 3:26 pm

    Bob Roll still hasn’t shaved his head

  12. Comment by Rider 3 | 02.18.2009 | 3:27 pm

    Fatty – Two questions – Don’t MSM (mainstream media) mentions reduce your credibility as a blogger?

    Also, can you start a new challenge to get someone to put duct tape over Craig Hummer’s mouth?

    Rider 3

    Team Two Wheel Blog

  13. Comment by Anonymous | 02.18.2009 | 3:27 pm

    You and Bikesnob ought to team up for the liveblogging

  14. Comment by Brian B | 02.18.2009 | 3:30 pm

    They just went through a feed zone and then would throw stuff to the side of the road later on. Does someone officialy clean that up?

  15. Comment by John | 02.18.2009 | 3:36 pm

    Brian B – In past years there was a pickup truck following the peloton that would pick up the major trash after the feedzone. Not sure if that is still the case.

    BREAKING NEWS – is reporting that the police have recovered Lance’s stolen bike.

  16. Comment by Kali Durga | 02.18.2009 | 3:38 pm

    I’d bet that any spectators along the route also scramble to collect musettes and water bottles as souvenirs.

  17. Comment by eric | 02.18.2009 | 3:41 pm

    Better pictures today.

  18. Comment by Cinda | 02.18.2009 | 3:47 pm

    I’m with Rider 3….bring on the duct tape.

  19. Comment by Brian B | 02.18.2009 | 3:49 pm

    Armstrongs bike found!!!

  20. Comment by Clydesteve | 02.18.2009 | 3:50 pm

    Prety cool how McCartney, Pauwels and tyler made a deal with Mancebo so he would leave the break:

    Francisco Mancebo has KOM lead, so he wants the points. But McCartney, Tyler and Pauwels want him to leave, because Team Astana will not allow the break to get away as long as Mancebo, just 56secs behind Levi, is in it.

    McCartney is 2nd in KOM, but he (and, apparently Pauwels) agreed to let Tyler, no threat to KOM, and Mancebo’s teammate, take all the remaining KOM points to protect Mancebos lead. So Mancebo agreed to sit up and drift back to the main peloton.

  21. Comment by eric | 02.18.2009 | 3:53 pm

    Bad crash. Landis looks ok but I think Kirchen is hurt.

  22. Comment by Clydesteve | 02.18.2009 | 3:53 pm

    CRASH! Oscar Freire (sp?) is down Floyd (Tean OUCH) is all scraped up with owies, and at lead one one Team Columbia guy – hope it is not Georgie.

    Nope just took off helmet – Kim Kirchen – looks like it might be collarbone. bummer. Oscar F. may have a rib or collarbone broke as well. double bummer.

  23. Comment by Clydesteve | 02.18.2009 | 3:56 pm

    both Kirchen & Friere are on the way to the hospital.

  24. Comment by Clydesteve | 02.18.2009 | 3:57 pm

    tracker.amgentourofcalifornia has the scoop, Elden.

  25. Comment by bobbieh | 02.18.2009 | 4:07 pm

    Looks like Lance finally took your advice about showing some sartorial team spirit!

    And is it just me, or does Versus REALLY suck?!?! Why no coverage of the beginning of the race? Any bets on whether or not they show the end???

  26. Comment by Cinda | 02.18.2009 | 4:08 pm

    Holy cow…Vandevelde down now too??? Who knew dry pavement and sunshine would be the problem?

  27. Comment by Kali Durga | 02.18.2009 | 4:08 pm

    Hmmm, the Amgen site’s reporting that Vande Velde’s back at the team car, apparently in pain…? Doesn’t sound good for us argyle fans.

  28. Comment by Byrdbth | 02.18.2009 | 4:16 pm

    I will cheer for Tyler! He is the only (semi) famous person I have ever met!

  29. Comment by Zack | 02.18.2009 | 4:16 pm

    Carnage in Clovis….who’da thunk it?

  30. Comment by Kris | 02.18.2009 | 4:17 pm

    I’m in.

  31. Comment by Brian B | 02.18.2009 | 4:20 pm

    the guy with the giant needles on a pitchfork was pretty funny.

  32. Comment by eric | 02.18.2009 | 4:21 pm

    Maybe Tyler thought it’d make him the bicycling Hercules?

  33. Comment by eric | 02.18.2009 | 4:23 pm

    Will somebody please smack that guy with the horns?

  34. Comment by bikemike | 02.18.2009 | 4:24 pm

    it’s a little known fact that tyler hamilton is george hamilton’s nephew, once removed.

    i just made that up.

  35. Comment by Kris | 02.18.2009 | 4:27 pm

    Did anyone just see a rider push the guy down with the pitchfork? Pushed him into the snow bank.

  36. Comment by Byrdbth | 02.18.2009 | 4:30 pm

    Hummer is nuts..what is up with the meal I’m hungry..

  37. Comment by Hat | 02.18.2009 | 4:31 pm

    Is this still going? I thought it would have been preempted by badminton by now.

  38. Comment by Byrdbth | 02.18.2009 | 4:32 pm

    “would go easy and run marathons”..something that I will never say!

  39. Comment by Erin | 02.18.2009 | 4:33 pm

    Every single time they cut to commercials on the Amgen coverage (online), Joe or Frankie keeps talking. WTF? Don’t they get the whole microphone concept?

  40. Comment by Mike | 02.18.2009 | 4:33 pm

    The Amgen tracker rocks! Who needs TV?

  41. Comment by eric | 02.18.2009 | 4:35 pm

    Ya know, old Bobke’s looking mighty Homer Simpsonish these days.

  42. Comment by Zack | 02.18.2009 | 4:36 pm

    Best wishes to Vande Velde, Kirchen and Friere…you guys are tough

  43. Comment by bikemike | 02.18.2009 | 4:40 pm

    what would happen if the three of them turned around and started going back up? i think that would be funny…i really do.

  44. Comment by Linda | 02.18.2009 | 4:47 pm

    Can someone tell me why that comedienne woman is called a comedienne? I think they should spell comedienne L-A-M-E.

  45. Comment by Zack | 02.18.2009 | 5:03 pm

    Nydam on way to hospital too? Damn, now this is getting serious…

  46. Comment by KanyonKris | 02.18.2009 | 5:08 pm

    I like how the tracker on the internet tracks the helicopter too.

  47. Comment by Linda | 02.18.2009 | 5:08 pm

    Hummer called them “Leek-wee-gas”. Sounds like an incontinance plagued/broccoli eating team.

  48. Comment by Lizzylou | 02.18.2009 | 5:09 pm

    I can’t get the tracker… for some reason I get no video

  49. Comment by Zack | 02.18.2009 | 5:31 pm

    Is it true that Lance’s bike was found with the Travelocity gnome?

  50. Comment by Clydesteve | 02.18.2009 | 5:57 pm

    i cant believe J. McCartney has stopped taking turns. the pelo is too close for cat & mouse

  51. Comment by Clydesteve | 02.18.2009 | 6:01 pm

    cav wins, Livestrong dust practically disguised the entire sprint

  52. Comment by eric | 02.18.2009 | 6:24 pm

    It was a great finish Fatty. We missed you.

  53. Comment by Cheryl | 02.18.2009 | 6:35 pm

    I live in Clovis and spent several hours this morning helping set up at the finish line. We were blessed with PERFECT weather, after a week of rain. Huge crowds turned out for the finish. Clovis was glad proud to be a part of this in a small way and I hope “we” do what we can to bring the tour back again next year.

  54. Comment by Triflefat | 02.18.2009 | 7:08 pm

    Don’t you dare stop Fatty! Even though you’re not well and even though we in Australia don’t get know who Bob Roll, is or for that matter what Versus tv is, this liveblogging is rivetting stuff.

    (Kudos to KanyonKris for ‘karmic’ typos by the way)

  55. Comment by graisseux | 02.18.2009 | 7:15 pm

    ‘Cuz that’s the proper pronounciation of Mancebo in Spain (I know, it’s “pronunciation,” but I’m referencing an earlier blog post); it’s called the “theta” and that’s how the Spaniards like their z’s and soft c’s. It’s also the reason that Latinos look at me like I’m either gay, have a speech impediment or both, when I speak Spanish–I learned Spanish in Spain.

  56. Comment by Miles Archer | 02.18.2009 | 7:17 pm

    Yesterday I had no power, so no TV and no Internet. Well, kind of internet via my Blackebery. So, I tried to use your site to keep up to date. Thankfully the power came on early enough so I could watch the hockey game.

  57. Comment by fatty | 02.18.2009 | 8:09 pm

    grassieux – ha! so i owe craig hummer an apology!

    sorry, craig hummer. so very, very sorry.

  58. Comment by Erine | 02.18.2009 | 8:16 pm

    Fatty I’ll choose you over Velonews almost any day.

  59. Comment by Cinda | 02.18.2009 | 8:18 pm

    No fatty tomorrow…? :::gasp!::: Just when I decided to hit mute on the t.v. and go with your blow-by-blow instead. So much better than Hummer-boy.

  60. Comment by KanyonKris | 02.18.2009 | 8:32 pm

    Gulden’s IS the real deal.

  61. Comment by eclecticdeb | 02.18.2009 | 8:36 pm

    I just sent Bob an email asking (nicely) when the big head shaving event was going to take place. If he is smooth tomorrow, I’ll take full credit.

  62. Comment by Zack | 02.18.2009 | 9:10 pm

    Not blog live? Are ye nuts? I’m reading the Amgen ticker at work — but catching the commentary from your blog. Yikes, how will we ever get through Thursday???

  63. Comment by Don | 02.18.2009 | 9:45 pm

    Hey Fatty…
    I could live blog it for you…

  64. Comment by Don | 02.18.2009 | 9:51 pm

    Gulden’s IS the bomb!
    …and good for you.

  65. Comment by Joe A | 02.18.2009 | 10:17 pm

    You’re mentioned at the bottom of the page. Well, you and Roll. :)

  66. Comment by mateo | 02.18.2009 | 11:54 pm

    how is Tyler 30 down? it’s not him (I was on the course and saw him at the front today) it’s really his “disappearing twin” that’s on the wrong end of the GC. Damn Chimera strikes again! Keep at it Fatty, we gotta get Bob bald!

  67. Comment by Tom in georgia | 02.19.2009 | 6:46 am

    I’m just happy versus didn’t blow it by cutting to Holy S@#t like they did hockey the other day at the end of the stage.

  68. Comment by Anita | 02.19.2009 | 7:54 am

    We have to Tivo the race, too, since hubby and I both work. We’re adding 3 hours to the end of the race right now just in case. Seems like ToC doesn’t quite have the creed TDF has on Versus yet. And has anyone noticed Hummer’s favorite word this year is “indeed”.

  69. Comment by Hilslug | 02.19.2009 | 8:52 am

    I just returned from the TOC. I decided to only attend the rainy stages. I am glad the horses went through the Wednesday’s finish area long before the cyclists appeared. That could have been very messy.

    I wonder if Versus can’t mention Livestrong b/c of contractual obligations? I wonder if some of the sponsoring cancer fighting organizations would be unhappy if Livestrong got airtime. I hope not because we are all fighting the same disease.

  70. Comment by kiwi | 02.19.2009 | 11:27 am

    How bout replacing Craig with “FATTY” ,he would fit it nicely with Phil and Paul!

    Give Craig the boot! Craig’s lights are on but no ones


  71. Comment by LidsB2 | 02.19.2009 | 12:52 pm

    I’m yet another poor sap whose employment prevents watching the ToC live. Why shouldn’t I be able to watch a bicycle race while working several floors underground in a secure military facility? Shouldn’t I be keeping up with world events of international significance?

    So, last night I’m on the trainer. You’d think I’d at least be able to watch my DVR’d recording of it. But no, I get stuck with American Idol. Either I need to get control of my household, or I need another TV!

    Hopefully I’ll catch up on my race recordings today.

    BTW – Gulden’s is mandatory for just about any sandwich or sausage-like food.

  72. Comment by Tim D | 02.19.2009 | 2:13 pm

    6:09 TBT (TiVo Blog Time) – welcome to my world. Coverage over here is starting at about 10PM, bath and bed time, so I have to watch the recorded version the next evening. Which means no FC, Cycling News, no Pez, no Eurosport News. The only sites I can go to in my normal routine are YehudaMoon (highly recommended) and Jill in Alaska. Consequently, I have no ideawhat day it is.

  73. Comment by Wildroadie (in Paris) | 02.19.2009 | 2:25 pm

    So apparently Johan Bruyneel shaved Bob’s hair off! (According to the twitter updat) Where are the pics…..
    For those of us with no access to the Versus hockey coverage – oh sorry cycling coverage.

  74. Comment by Slug | 02.19.2009 | 2:47 pm

    Bob just mentioned getting his head shaved on the official tour tracker webcast!

    He said the wrong website, though….. fattycyclist dot com.

  75. Comment by El Gato | 02.19.2009 | 5:15 pm

    Might I suggest that live waxing of Bobke’s chest/back hair would be worth AT LEAST $10k.



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