What a difference a year makes. This time last year I was in Lake Tahoe the day before Stage 1 of the 2011 Amgen Tour of California. The forecast: snow storm. The forecast for tomorrow: sunny and 74 F. We all know what happened to Stage 1 last year: cancelled. I had gotten down to California feeling nervous about the whole experience, wondering why I had signed up for such a thing. I actually felt somewhat relieved when Stage 1 got cancelled: “Ouff, I don’t have to ride in a large group for five hours tomorrow.” When the race finally got under way the next day I felt the stress come down and I actually ended up doing better than I had expected. I guess Chris Carmichael was right: “If the head is good the legs are good”, or “Performance starts and ends in the head.”

What a difference a year makes. Tonight we had our team meeting before dinner and after a presentation by CTS founder and CEO Chris Carmichael and camp manager Lelan Dains all twenty two athletes got to introduce themselves to the group. Some people talked about how “frightened” they were about the upcoming week while others really sounded nervous. Personally I felt pretty relaxed. My CTS coach Jason called me Thursday night and I told him that I actually do not feel nervous at all, I am only a bit anxious to get the show on the road and have a great time. Tonight I could see myself in every person who talked about being nervous about the event. I felt very nervous myself last year. The one thing I know for sure is that at the end of the week, all the people in the room tonight will have done better than they anticipate. The Tour of California is an extremely difficult event but the truth is that the human body is capable to do way more than anyone thinks. That will be the biggest lesson for most people.

We seem to have a great and strong team of riders. I’ll bet anything that we will all get along very well, look after each other, encourage those who are having a bad day and, on occasion, challenge each other on the climbs. The entire CTS crew seems totally prepared and I have a great feeling about the whole thing.

This morning we started the day with a 90 minutes ride led by Chris Carmichael. We then had lunch. Some people had an afternoon nap – including yours truly – followed by our team meeting and dinner. For those who wonder: “Yes I did have a glass of red!”

This is what awaits us tomorrow:

Route: Santa Rosa-Santa Rosa (115 mi/186 km)


  • CTS Breakfast Time:   5:00-6:00 am
  • CTS Depart Hotel:       6:45 am
  • AM Transfer:               None
  • CTS Ride Start Time:   7:00 am
  • Pro Riders Start:         10:50 am
  • CTS Finish Time:         1:00-2:00 pm
  • Pro Finish Time:          3:30-4:00 pm
  • PM Transfer:               None
  • CTS Dinner:                6:30-8:30 pm

Pictures taken today: