AToC: Californian Finale

Words: | Photography: John Watson | Date:

Even on the final day, when the temperatures reached into the hundreds once more, Team Sky and their leader could not be fazed. The 2014 Amgen Tour of California came to a close Sunday with Sir Bradley Wiggins on the top step of the podium. This would be the first win for the Team on American soil and one that will go into the books as a clinical win from the get-go.

Team Sky controlled the front of the race up the ‘Rock Store’ climb, their black and blue kits in stark contrast to the colorful menagerie surrounding them. The three Americans – Ian Boswell, Joe Dombrowski and Danny Pate – made everything look easy, even when it clearly was not.

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The break would come through before them, the time gap growing to nearly four minutes on the second lap, yet each time they passed Team Sky would look even more relaxed. No matter how the peloton behind them was being shredded to bits. Luke Rowe’s curls jutting out from under his helmet, jauntily bobbing with every pedal stroke, making the whole scene look effortless and slightly comical.

With each lap (and there were only three) the rest of the field clung to the back of the race. Every rider wore their own mask of pain — eyes bulging out of their weathered faces, calves straining against the push-pull of the steepness of the course itself.

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And then there was Sir Bradley.

Never once did he flinch. Never once did he let the distractions around the race enter into his field of view. Not when the barefoot runners, with their bellies stretching their lycra costumes ran next to him, not when journalists asked silly questions after the stages, and especially not when the other teams tried their best to apply pressure. His on-bike persona is the coolest of the cool, the thing that separates real rock stars from their fans — indifference. The kind of indifference that lets one completely separate themselves from the hullabaloo. Not in a mean, or derogatory way, one that lets you maintain your singular focus.

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Only when looking back does it completely make sense. Which is kind of the case with most things. Think back to the Stage 6 – the climb up to Mountain High – Wiggins admitted in an interview with Velo News how he had pulled the rug out from under young Peter Stetina.

 “I just faked that I was a bit dead for a minute to get Pete [sic] to attack, and that just finished Pete off.”

To pull off a trick like this, the other riders have to fully believe that you’re going for it, and once you have got that, you can play them like a puppet. Which is exactly what he did for six days in a row.

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A massive congratulations to Sir Bradley Wiggins and the entirety of Team Sky’s Tour of California team on their win in California. We will continue to keep an eye on the riders as they finish out the Giro and head into preparation for the biggest race of the summer… which, may I remind you, begins on England’s sunny shores.

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