2016 American Tour of Kalifornia: Stage 04
Wednesday May 18, 2016 | Morro Bay
Fuck the lackluster setting, the invisible stage, the absent crowds, because none of that matters, it’s window dressing. These are the best in the world doing what they do.
4329 – 2.1mi
Best Western Townhouse Lodge and low-level drug deal conference center
Get at least six hours of sleep.
- Peter Sagan, Tinkoff Team 5:16:33
- Greg Van Avermaet, BMC Racing Team s/t
- Nathan Haas, Dimension Data s/t
Stage 4 will feature several race “firsts” including the inaugural journey north up Pacific Coast Highway from new waterfront host city Morro Bay, which will showcase its natural beauty to the world.
Riders will roll out from the iconic Morro Rock and head north along California’s most famous coastline, passing windswept beaches and a dynamic estuary. For the next 100 miles, there are no turns as riders head north through coastal Cambria, over Big Sur’s famous Bixby Bridge and through Carmel-By-The-Sea en route to Monterey County.
The road to the marine-life oriented region of Monterey will be long with possible headwinds but also boundless beauty. Monterey was originally a fishing village, and today is one of the most visited areas in California and home to the world-famous Pebble Beach and Monterey Bay Aquarium.
With several short, steep climbs in the final five miles, this course could favor riders with quick bursts of power like last year’s race champion Peter Sagan (SVK). After 133 miles, expect a select group at the front to take a lap on the first racecourse finish in race history – the famously technical Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway, a venue known worldwide for motorsports competitions.
Here’s what we know: the riders rode by San Simeon and they rode into Laguna Seca. We have to simply believe that they started in Morro Bay. We have to believe that they kept riding once they passed us at San Simeon. We have to believe that after they whizzed by us they kept riding, past the Henry Miller museum and its sordid secrets, past Esalen and its closets full of new age skeletons, past Carmel and its greens of khaki-liveried capitalist vampires. We have to believe that they rode to the finish, that they spit in each other’s eyes, shit in each other’s beds, that they fought tooth and nail the whole way. Because without belief, without trust, the world is a sad rock of nihilism, and that’s a world I don’t want to be a part of.
Isn’t it painfully obvious that most dolphins are actually Great White Sharks wearing dolphin corpses as t-shirts?
Not all Mexican food in California is created equal.
German Tourists are full of shit.
Laguna Seca is probably a great race track for cars.
The Tour of California is as much about touring California by car as it is about the riders touring it by bike. The race designers have outdone themselves this year. With transfers made long by mileage and/or California’s famous traffic, from bumper to bumper to burnt urine landscapes, we’ve really been given the hard sell on California at large. Thanks ATOK. Side Note, it seems like we write about this sentiment every time we cover this race. Apparently some things don’t change.
We got up late but instead of rushing to the start to get a few rushed shots of some lyrca-fame bros strutting up to sign in, we did what any adults with dignity and self-respect would do: we rolled to the nearest Starbucks, ordered a trio of Americanos and breezed our way up to San Simeon. Later we’d cruz a strip mall in Paso Robles, sampling from their finest Burrito/Taco and Burger joints topped off with another dose of the ‘Bucks. Post race we nipped off to another ‘Bucks on the sunrise side of Monterey before heading to the interior. Once in Modesto it was a order-in kind of a night: a $10 bottle of sauvignon blanc and a taster’s choice of Lebanese and Indian food. Throughout it all we grazed on almonds, apples, and a warm, pliable brick of sharp cheddar that we’d been aging in our car for the past two days. In short today’s food was really nice. If you’re in Modesto California go to the @falafelhut, the couple running the joint are absolutely the sweetest.
Turns out science was wrong. That was a Leprosy Fog, and fingers are falling off all over Los Angeles.
I Race Report
Here’s the thing about racing. It all happens at the end: when the first person crosses the line for the last time you’ve got yourself a winner. Racing isn’t decided by the electoral college, this shit is a popular vote man, direct democracy. Of course we acknowledge the GC and the jersey classifications, we don’t want to take anything away from these aggregate trophies, but when it comes down to it, the visceral, the immediate, the blow your hair back, nerves electric, awe of humanity shit is all about the on the immediacy of the stage finish.
Starting out, it seemed like today’s stage was going to be a little bit of a bust. Driving off the top of Gibraltar was like coming down from a high, we had witnessed the herculean efforts or the riders, the beauty of the climb, the thrall of the crowds. It was an Ayahuasca in the eyes, all the stops pulled, throttles on full experience. As we descended from the top the mountain, so did we come back down to reality. Tomorrow couldn’t possibly live up to this, the bar has been set too high.Thoughts on today’s post? Give us a ring at +1-971-280-6823 and leave a message!
I can’t in good conscience argue that today’s stage was equal to the race up Gibraltar. However, that doesn’t mean that when I watched the finish, when I watched Sagan and crew snake up the back straight like a Skittles-colored cobra, when I saw the effort, the fatigue, the anguish, and finally the cool grace of that Slovakian land missile casually acknowledging his victory with a subdued shrug, I was riveted with the electric immediacy that comes with racing. It speaks to something primitive and atavistic within each of us, something that, try as we might, cannot be.Competition is as much a part of humanity as is the thumb and vocalization.”- MFS
We all want to be winners, and such is the power of our drive to win, such is our addiction to the elation of victory that we’ve trained into our nature a construct of collective consciousness that allows us to feed off the victories of others. In a sense we’ve ensnared our empathy, bent it to our will. This transference works best, is most fully realized, at the denouement, the finale. And here we have Sagan, here we have the peloton. Fuck the lackluster setting, the invisible stage, the absent crowds, because none of that matters, it’s window dressing. These are the best in the world doing what they do, and being there, leaning against a concrete barrier watching it all play out, I was struck with the same sense of awe and admiration that is fundamental to my fascination of with the human condition, our drive, our will.
This is an outpouring, an admission, an acknowledgement. This is an acknowledgement of competition, of drive, of the animal. It’s simply beautiful.
II Today's Highs & Lows
- Experiencing my first dump butler in a Port-a-John. We had just shown up to Laguna Seca, and I wouldn’t say my launch officers had uncuffed their briefcases, but they were definitely discussing their count strategy for the synchronized key turn. Anyway, shit was on. So we roll up to this chained-in private temporary sanitary establishment and as providence would have it a dump butler was right there to open the gates to the kingdom. Let’s just say fresh tracks plus a notable lack of contemporary dispersal. Things went well and after I finished, after I waltzed out a like a newly appointed POTUS, the dump butler locked the kingdom up behind me.
- Nathan Hass took third! PODIUM. PODIUM. PODIUM!!!
- Trying to fall asleep at 5:17am to the sound of chirping birds, who were, presumably, in the process of waking up.
- I asked a few German Tourists if I could get footage of them for my video blog (vlog) but they pretended like they couldn’t speak English. I am pretty sure that as part of the Armistice, all Germans were required to learn English. So imagine how I felt when these fucking tourists decided to make a fool out of me—in my own country no less—by pretending to not speak English just so they could duck being in my vlog. I mean what kinda selfish bullshit is that? How would they feel if I went to Germany, toured one of their streusel factories, and decided to take a shit in their eyes? Because guess what retired German tourists, all I can see is the shit you shoveled me.
- Lachlan, sorry about that blowout brü.
Stage 04 Most Animal Competition An MFS Pilot Program for a New Classification
Manual for Speed has been commissioned to introduce a new race classification category called “Most Animal.” Points for the classification will be awarded on the basis of style, swagger, and grit. We’ve assembled an elite group of expert analysts who will be assessing and assigning points for performance. The most animal jersey for ATOK will be awarded at the end of the race.
NEILSON POWLESS: 8 pts
He’s still the youngest rider in the race, and after attacking yesterday he hung in and came in with the first group today. Top 5 in the GC… ANIMAL!
PETER SAGAN: 7 pts
Assigning Sagan animal points is kinda like assigning color points to the color blue. Its tautological. Still, dude deserves them, and after crushing the field in the final sprint his winning salute was SO Alain Delon/ James Dean cool. Also, that pony tail.
NATHAN HAAS: 6 pts
Attacked on the final climb and still sprinted for third. Also, Nathan #Rode4Bernie two days ago. Haas isn’t even American but we can’t help but think that his little show of enthusiasm helped push Bernie over the top in Oregon.
AXEON-HAGENS BERMAN: 5 pts
The whole team has been killing it. We love junior development, not because we fetishize youth but because we truly believe that supporting, drawing attention to, and encouraging up-and-coming riders is the right thing to do for cycling. Axeon-Hagens Begman, we applaud you.
DAVE TOWLE: 4 pts
Why? Because I’m 90% sure I saw him fistbumping Peter Sagan after the win. Plus he’s Dave Towle. Listen, we know that there is absolutely NO WAY he’s going to be able to win the overall but at the same time, he’s Dave Towle. Dude’s an animal.
LAGUNA SECA: 3 pts
A crazy finish, weird turns and weirder climbs. So that’s cool. Also Butlered Dump Lots. But also heat and a queasy empty feeling.
Standings After Stage 04
- Neilson Powless: 12 points
- Ben King: 9 points
- Wouter Wippert: 7 points
- Peter Sagan: 7 points
- Julian Alaphilippe: 6 points
- Nathan Haas: 6 points
- Vasil Kiriyenka: 5 points
- Axeon-Hagens Berman: 5 points
- Oscar Clark: 4 points
- Dave Towle: 4 poimts
- Cannondale Team Car: 3 points
- Laguna Seca: 3 points
- Inflatable Cookies: 2 points
BONUS INTERACTIVE FEATURE: RACE FINISH RECREATION FEAT. DAVE TOWLE
IV San Simeon
You’ll be getting plenty of compliments yourself wearing your MFS Surprise Me! kit out and about. And when someone asks you, “Where can I get one of those sweet kits?” you’ll tell them, “You can’t, they’re gone, you had your chance, you could’ve had this but you were afraid of the surprise.”