The 2003 T-Mobile International, formerly known as the San Francisco Grand Prix, cycling race was held yesterday in downtown San Francisco. Thousands of cycling fans descended and ascended the hills of SF to see a 120-person strong international team of riders, including 5-time Tour de France champion, Lance Armstrong and 2003 third place TDF finisher, Alex Vinokourov. Rae and I drove up an hour after the men’s cycling race had started, and we positioned ourselves along the Taylor Street hill for most of the race. Taylor street rises at at 18% grade, which means the cyclists were dropping into their 39-tooth chainring and their lower, hill-climbing gears. Most of the riders were sporting double-chainrings, though I did see a few Colnago’s with triples. Cassettes ranged from from what looked like 11-21’s, 12-23’s to 12-25’s or 12-27’s. The US Postal Service’s bikes were equipped with the new 2004 Dura-Ace 10-spd, but most of the Dura-Ace-equipped bikes from the other teams were the older 9-spd.
Despite being such a cycling fan, I’ve never attended a race until Sunday. The speed at which these riders motor at is unbelievable. Hitting the Taylor hill, they must have been going at least 25-30 mph. Of course, going up Taylor, they were going much, much slower! To the right is a video that Rae took with her PowerShot A70. At 15 frames a second, things look a little sped up, but believe me, the guys were going nearly that fast!
The best way to get to the other sections of the race was, no surprise here, to use a bike. There were hundreds of fans riding their bikes on the course or side-streets after the riders and motorcade passed by. Next year, I might bring the bike up myself so I can catch more of the action! Many of the fans sported cameras to document the race. I spoke with a three people who has Canon EOS-10D’s and I saw a few Nikon D100’s among the crowd. I didn’t spy anybody with the new Nikon D2H, which I’d love to get presented at a future COBA meeting.
Since we came up late, we missed the action for the women’s race. I read that Basis Cycling was in the race. Was Nicole Freedman riding? Sadly, the race reports on VeloNews and Cycling News haven’t been updated with full results. I saw Lance Armstrong being interviewed before the race as we left the house, but by the time we got there, he had already dropped out of the race. I read that he was battling a stomach bug… which I’m sure would feel just great climbing up hills like Fillmore and Taylor Streets.
Congratulations to Nicole Cooke and Chris Horner, winners of the 2003 T-Mobile International, as well to all the participants and fans. See y’all next year!
Photos from the afternoon: