It's 10pm Pacific, and although it's kind of dark in Seattle, things are getting underway under beautiful sunny skies in San Fran. And here at Podium Cafe, we bring it to you... LIVE!
Read on for our minute-by-minute coverage...
Paul Sherwen and Bob Roll calling the action. Too bad there are so few Spanish names in the race for them to butcher.
10:05pm -- The HRM readouts: whatever. It's kind of interesting, but as consumers can't we demand wattage? We won't get it if we don't start bitching about it.
10:07 -- The nausea caused by ESPN's Google Earth presentation of the course is starting to wear off.
10:10 -- Curious use of the cameras, there's a spot at about 2km, shortly after the climbing begins, where the car stops and the rider fades off into the distance. Very bizarre. But I really like seeing a rider from start to finish except for that dead spot.
10:12 -- Star of the early rounds is Nathan O'Neil and his handspring finish stunt. No video of course, but with the repeated descriptions it's like you can picture that in your mind. And that's what live television is all about.
10:16 -- Fabian Cancellara comes across in first, wearing his Swiss National Prologue Champion's kit. Cancellara's influence on a generation of Swiss prologue riders cannot be overstated.
10:22 -- Commercials are endless. Also, Magic needs to cut out the doughnuts. Also, in those Cali tourist ads, everyone seems like they belong there, except the robotic dude with the Austrian accent.
10:25 -- The honor of being the first rider tipped as "maybe the next Lance Armstrong" goes to Tom Danielson. ESPN's contract with its advertisers calls for at least two such references every half hour. Danielson nearly misses Cancellara's time, although ESPN's shot of the finish doesn't include any clocks, so we'll have to take Paul's word for it.
10:31 -- O'Grady is utterly unrecognizable in his new CSC TT kit. Just saying... O'Grady's ride includes a great shot of him on the opening flat with Coit Tower visible over his shoulder. You can really get a feel for the ride, like eyeballing Juanita hill as you're coming around Lake Washington. He finishes in a highly respectable 5.05.
10:38 -- Julich rolls out, followed by Chris Horner, then il Falco. Too bad this is a winter warm up, this is getting awfully cool. Discovery's kits are less awful than Gerolsteiner's... and that's saying something!
10:42 -- Bobke describes Savoldelli's triumphant ride over the "colly delle finetter" last year. Fortunately, I neglect to gouge my eyes out long enough to see Julich come in with a new best time, just under 5', and looking rather collected. His feat is announced to the crowd by a rather over-exuberant course MC, a far cry form the mellifluous tones we're used to at the Tour.
10:45 -- A woman dressed as an angel watches Savoldelli just miss Julich's time. Why did we get to watch all of Mark McCormick's ride and not Julich's? A determined Landis rolls out, with his butt parked firmly on the foremost two inches of his saddle. Paul and Bob are openly upset.
10:48 -- For the 10th time or so I am reminded that Gilberto Simoni is here. One of these days I may actually remember. Landis is powering heavily upward, and like so many others he just misses the best time.
10:51 -- Amgen makes it through their first ad unapologetically, in fact without even mentioning EPO. A good sign for Cycling.
10:53 -- Hincapie misses Julich by one second. ESPN shows the last 10 seconds of his ride. Leipheimer rolls off, after Saul Raisin, with only two men to follow: Gilberto Simoni, who I am now told is here, and Mick Rogers.
10:53 -- Leipheimer rolls in, less than 30 seconds after departing, though for some reason his posted time is nearly five minutes -- the best of the day. ESPN has clearly miscalculated how much time the race takes, and is cramming in the last riders like someone who realized there are five minutes left in the SAT and half a section to go. Mick Rogers, the Time Trial World Champion, gets his 7 seconds of note when he misses Leipheimer's time. Leipheimer is the winner.
10:59 -- Results posted, including the first mention all day of Dave Zabriskie. But we got to see all of Mark McCormick. An Austrian robot gives Leipheimer his gold jersey, which they're calling yellow but the color is all Vuelta, no Tour. Leipheimer gets through an ESPN interview without having to explain the rules of bike racing. An important day for US Cycling!
11:00 -- The show concludes with Gilberto Simoni blowing kisses from the start house... what's he doing here? Ah, right... See you back here tomorrow night when the riders roll off from Sausalito at 11pm Pacific.