Stage 3 Guide
AMGEN heads into town. Meanwhile, local cyclist Shelley Olds Evans preps for the 2012 Olympics
When the AMGEN Tour of California, the biggest and most prestigious bike race in the United States, returns to Santa Cruz for Stage 3 on May 18, the city, the cycling community and its stars will enter the international spotlight. Santa Cruz can expect greater worldwide exposure this year because race organizer AEG will deliver increased media coverage of the eight-day, 800-plus mile road bike race that travels from Nevada City to Thousand Oaks, from May 16 to 23. This is the second year in a row that Santa Cruz was selected to take part in the Amgen Tour of California (TOC). One major change is that this year’s event was moved from February to May.
“I think it’s going to make a huge difference to have the race in sunny weather,” predicted Matt Twisselman, the chairman of TOC’s Local Organizing Committee and the one who spearheaded the years-long effort to put Santa Cruz on the TOC route. “We will have an even bigger turn-out.”
An estimated 15,000 to 20,000 spectators will watch the race along the course in Santa Cruz on Tuesday, May 18. Stage 3, a 113.3-mile race from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, will finish in front of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. The Boardwalk’s parking lot will also host a health and wellness fair, the Lifestyles Festival. (See Events listing).
Fans will line much of the course, hoping to catch a glimpse of some of the world’s best riders in the fast-moving pack, called a peloton. The star-studded TOC line-up includes seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong and three-time defending champion of the Tour of California, Levi Leipheimer of Santa Rosa.
It also includes the Jacques-Mayniacs. Naturally, some of the loudest cheering will be reserved for the hometown favorites and elite cycling pros, Ben and Andy Jacques-Maynes. The twins, 31, are both Santa Cruz County residents and members of the Bissell Pro Cycling Team. Their fans are fondly known as the “Jacques-Mayniacs.”
“It’s my hometown race,” says Andy Jacques-Maynes, a UC-Berkeley graduate who lives in Watsonville and often does four or five hour training rides with his brother. “I get to ride roads I have known for a long time. I’ve trained and raced here. It’s great to have everyone here cheering.”
“I know every bit of asphalt so intimately,” agrees Ben Jacques-Maynes of the Stage 3 race. “ I am cutting the corners and flowing down the hills as fast as humanly possible. I know every turn for the next 40 miles.”
Like the Jacques-Maynes, there is another elite, pro racer who lives in Santa Cruz and knows every inch of pavement due to her rigorous bicycling training schedule. That’s Shelley Olds Evans, whose team is racing the women’s portion of the Tour of California, the Sacramento Grand Prix on May 16. Starting at 10 a.m., the criterium-style race travels a 1.4-mile course circling the Capitol Building and is slated to finish in downtown Sacramento, just hours before Stage 1 of the men’s TOC race will finish at the same spot.
“It’s going to be great,” says Evans, 29. “I did the [TOC women’s] race two years ago in Santa Rosa and there were so many fans watching our race. I heard many comments about how exciting the women’s race was. It gives us an opportunity to show what we do and to show spectators that women race, too. Too bad they don’t give us a whole race—they should.”
Evans won’t be joining her teammates on the Peanut Butter & Co Twenty 12 Professional Cycling Team this Sunday due to a schedule conflict—and honor. She was selected to compete in Mexico at the Pan American Championships with her other team, the U.S. National Cycling Team. Racing in three events there is a step toward Evans’ ultimate goal: qualifying for one of the few women’s slots in the 2012 Olympics in bicycle road racing. Evans counts on former Kristin Armstrong, an Olympian gold medalist in cycling in 2008, as her personal coach. The 5’2” dynamo, best known for her sprinting talent, is intensely focused.
“My goal has always been the Olympics. This is what drives me to the highest level of competition. I want to get there and succeed,” says Evans, who credits her husband, Rob Evans, for introducing her to cycling. “I’m a really disciplined person. When I started this sport four to five years ago, I set this goal for myself. I want it so bad. I have to be realistic. It’s a process of achieving small goals one at a time: two steps forward, one step back.”
A pro racer for three years, Evans has an athletic background of playing soccer in college and becoming a competitive runner afterward. When her husband showed her a variety of cycling disciplines, bike racing on the track became her first love. But since the track discipline she excelled in is no longer an Olympic sport, she switched gears.
“The Olympics are so close to my heart. Watching this winter, it’s becoming so real. Two years away is not long at all,” says Evans, of the 2012 Summer Games in London. Evans trains full time and also coaches a handful of athletes. “My job as a cyclist has given me an opportunity to see the world and pursue my dreams of being healthy and athletic.”
Living in Santa Cruz has helped Evans achieve that lifestyle and that’s why she thinks having the Tour of California Stage 3 come through is so fitting. “It’s so cool to have it here in our back yard. It brings such a great attention to come to Santa Cruz and see how amazing it is awesome in May.”
“This race will really showcase Santa Cruz and our tremendous cycling community. There’s so much talent here,” says Jennifer Karno, who, with Tina Shull and Matt Twisselman, has devoted months to preparing for the event as part of the TOC Local Organizing Committee. To secure the return of Stage 3 to Santa Cruz, organizers had to ensure that it would not be at the city’s expense during a time of economic crunch. So the fundraising efforts of the local organizing committee have been intense. One thing that helps offset the costs is membership in the Peloton Club, a VIP booster club which offers premiere seating and other benefits.
Organizers hope that the race will be a way to unite the Santa Cruz community. Cyclists and non-cyclists alike can rally for superstar cancer survivor Lance Armstrong and celebrate the strong presence of bicycling in Santa Cruz. The county is home to numerous cycling industry leaders and innovators, a thriving group of independent, bike frame builders and a city that actively promotes bicycling as alternative transportation in a variety of programs. Perhaps most importantly, it’s a place where athletes of all levels, those at the elite level or just starting out, can pursue their dreams.
Photo Credits: Shelley Evans by MelissaBlack
For more information, visit the City of Santa Cruz’s official TOC website, tourofcalifornia-santacruz.com and the Facebook.com group page: 2010 Amgen Tour of California-Santa Cruz.
A Day in the Life of a Pro Cyclist
Ben Jacques-Maynes shares the ups and downs of elite road racing
Local cyclists have a love-hate relationship with climbing Bonny Doon Road, off Highway 1, in northern Santa Cruz County. Riders value the training benefits of the uphill slog, but, at the same time, they detest punishing sections of the heart-pounding and hamstring-burning ascent. This climb was pivotal in 2009’s Tour of California and it’s expected to be critical again this year for determining not only the leaders of Stage 3, but also the overall rider standings in the eight-day race.
On Tuesday, May 18, professional road bike racer Ben Jacques-Maynes, 31, of Watsonville, will tackle the mountainside that he knows so well from years of training rides. This is the fourth time Jacques-Maynes will be racing the Tour of California (TOC). During this event, known as a stage race, he will push himself to the limit while biking nearly 800-plus miles. He and his twin brother, Andy Jacques-Maynes, of Corralitos, both race on the Bissell Pro Cycling Team. They are especially stoked for Stage 3, the 113.3-mile race from San Francisco to Santa Cruz. In this interview, Ben Jacques-Maynes, a UC Santa Cruz graduate, reveals the challenges and rewards of his demanding job as a professional bike racer. He’s been racing for the past 10 years.
GT: What is your mindset when you compete in a stage race?
Ben Jacques-Maynes: I wake up and treat every race day like a brand new beginning. I have trained my body for this so I am going to be confident I am going to give 100 percent, whether it is me working for my teammates or them working for me.
Do you get nervous racing with some of the world’s best cyclists?
All the big names are out there. I’m lucky: I get to line up beside Lance Armstrong. How many people would die to do this just once in their lives? Many others are race leaders, too. But, for me, I need to look at them as another body with a target on their chests and just do my utmost to beat them. If you are a fan, you are not racing them.
Using your 2009 TOC as an example, walk me through what your day will look like for Stage 3, the race from San Francisco to Santa Cruz.
I’ll go to bed early the night before at a pretty nice hotel. When the alarm goes off, it’s all business—no dallying. Every morning it’s go time. I have to eat within a certain window. I’m out of bed in 10 or 15 minutes and at a huge buffet with all the cyclists and race staff.
What do you eat?
There is so much food laid out and each cyclist knows exactly what he needs. I have oatmeal, some eggs, a bunch of fruit and a bagel or piece of toast. If I have a 10 a.m. race start, I will eat at 7 a.m. As the race goes on, my stomach shrinks significantly and it’s harder to eat. By the end of the race, my metabolism is on fire.
What else happens before your race?
I stretch, talk with people, and collect my thoughts for the day. The race meeting was the night before where the team strategy was laid out. We are shuttled to the race site to arrive an hour ahead of our start time. We are already dressed in complete cycling kits and are immediately ready to start media interviews, handle requests and sign in for the stage.
Do you have last-minute, pre-race rituals?
Not really. I stick food in my jersey pockets—from First Endurance— and double check that the radios work well. [Riders wear radio headsets during the race for communication.] It’s time for all the little odds and ends like making sure my rain bag in the car is packed with a rain jacket, clothes, a warm jersey and spare shoes. I don’t pack much because I can collect what I need from the team car during the race. Then there’s the national anthem, the gun goes off and we are on our way.
What do you feel at the start line?
Anticipation! I almost never have nerves at the start line. I’m in a competitor frame of mind. I compete so much, I get used to it. I don’t waste extra energy on nervousness—mental clarity is a key goal that I am training for. I am already confident in the team and my own performance.
This is the second time that Santa Cruz has been selected to be in the TOC. How is that for you?
It’s really inspiring to drop down into my town to ride the streets I know so well. To have one day in Santa Cruz feels like I’m participating in a parade. Suddenly, you are in the middle of a street where you don’t normally go and everyone’s watching. It’s a pretty special experience.
For Stage 3 when you cross into Santa Cruz County, is there more support from fans?
I can hear my name called even when we are whizzing by at 40 miles an hour. I can’t smile, wave and turn, but I can see and hear every person along the way. It gives me strength. It’s an unreal experience to have so much support. People are lining the entire route, believing in you and your ability. That makes me even more motivated than before.
Will you get to see your family—wife, Goldi, and kids Chase, 4, and Chloe, 2, at the finish line?
I usually get to see them, pretty briefly. Just because the race is over doesn’t mean we are done. I have to put myself back together for the next day for the same thing, but it will be harder because of muscle fatigue and mental fatigue.
What do you do right after the race?
I immediately look for my Team Bissell van and chairs, food, towels to clean up, managers and soigneurs [assistants responsible for feeding, clothing, and escorting riders. They also massage riders.] They are the heart and soul of the bike team: the soigneurs do to the racers what the mechanics do to the bikes. Then, it’s time for anti-doping tests, media requests, report to the podium, attend the press conference. You have to put yourself together after five hours of gladiator-style battle.
When do you get to relax?
When we get to the hotel, the bike mechanics are waiting—our bags are already in our rooms. We are brain dead. I shower, eat food, get a massage, some times nap before the dinner buffet. As the stage race goes on, your body becomes more efficient and requires less food. Right after dinner, we have a team meeting to review the day, discuss the next day and go over the course and other details.
Then, at last, you can sleep?
I go back to my room after that, and pin my numbers. [He removes the race number from his uniform and puts on a fresh one, the same number that identifies him throughout the race]. It’s the last thing I do. It cleans me of that day. If I have been mad or riled up, when I re-pin the number that day is done and I am starting fresh. Even if it went perfectly and I won the race, I say, today was a good day, time to start afresh. Then it’s straight to bed and I just pass out pretty quickly.
That’s a tough schedule. What makes it worthwhile?
I have lots of motivation to train and race. I see my kids happy and playful and feel excited and blessed to support my family doing something I love.
Karen Kefauver, karenkefauver.com, is a Santa Cruz-based freelance writer and avid cyclist who specializes in stories on adventure travel and endurance sports.
Amgen Tour of California Events
Some of the world’s best bike racers will sprint into Santa Cruz on Tuesday, May 18. You can get a head start celebrating their arrival with a variety of fun cycling events in the days before their dramatic finish in front of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. For a complete event listing, including the Lifestyle Expo on race day, visit tourofcalifornia-santacruz.com.
Here are some highlights. | KK
Saturday, May 15
Rail-Trail Fun and Fitness Festival
The whole family can join the Rail/Trail ride and enjoy munchies, vendors, merchandise and a Pro Jump Jam. Ride the train up to Felton with your bike onboard, then bike downhill on Highway 9 with a CHP escort. Return to the park for festivities and Pro Jump Jam with local pros catching big air.
When: Rail/Trail bike ride 9 a.m. registration, 10 a.m. train leaves. Festival, 11:30 a.m.-3p.m. Pro Jump Jam, 12:30-3 p.m.
Where: Depot Park, 119 Center St., Santa Cruz.
Cost: Free festival. Ride: $10 adults, $5 children. Cash only. Tickets to Rail/Trail: tourofcalifornia-santacruz.com.
Sunday, May 16
“Race Across the Sky” and Introduction by Chris Carmichael, Lance Armstrong’s Coach
“Race Across the Sky” is a documentary featuring six-time defending champion Dave Wiens competing against international star and seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong in a grueling race set at 10,000+ feet in a former mining town, Leadville, Colo. With the clock set for 12 hours, racers slog through 100 miles, over 14,000 vertical feet of climbing, some two miles above sea level, through extreme climate changes ranging from heat to hail and rain to snow.
When: 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Where: Rio Theatre, 1205 Soquel Ave., Santa Cruz.
Cost: $18 in advance at the Bicycle Trip and santacruztickets.com $20 at the door.
Monday, May 17
An Evening with Chris Carmichael
Lance Armstrong’s Coach and the founder of TrainRight Systems, Carmichael will speak about the legendary cyclist, take questions and sign books. Named U.S. Olympic Committee Coach of the Year in 1999, he founded Carmichael Training Systems to provide athletes of all abilities access to world-class coaching. His most recent book is “The Time Crunched Cyclist: Fit, Fast and Powerful in 6 Hours A Week.”
When: 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Where: The Boardwalk, Sun Room.
Cost: $35. Tickets, Santacruztickets.com.
Tuesday, May 18
Stage 3 Finish – Amgen Tour of California
Santa Cruz Boardwalk finish and Lifestyle Festival opens at 11 a.m.
MBT Footwear Lifestyle Festival gives cycling enthusiasts a place to experience the spectacle of race day before the stage finish. Located in the Boardwalk parking lot, the festival will include health screenings, cancer awareness education, live music, food, entertainment, sweepstakes drawings, bicycle safety, family activities, interactive displays and presentations featuring dozens of participating vendors. See tourofcalifornia-santacruz.com. for details.
New to Santa Cruz this year is the “Breakaway Mile,” a tribute to cancer survivors, patients, caregivers and advocates who have been impacted by cancer. A one-mile walk at the Stage 3 finish line is included.
When: Meet at 1 p.m.
Where: Dream Inn, 175 West Cliff Drive, Santa Cruz
Cost: Free for the first 150 to sign up: amgentourofcalifornia.com/breakawaymile.