By Michael Collier
Scores of cycling fans flocked Tuesday to Mount Diablo to get a glimpse of their favorite pro racers in the final twists and turns of a 108-mile Stage 3 of the 2014 Tour of California, which began in San Jose and ended at the top of the East Bay’s tallest peak for the second year in a row.
Ride leader Bradley Wiggins, who won the Tour de France in 2012, finished behind stage winner Rohan Dennis of Australia. Wiggins remains the overall leader.
The bonus: The fans got to ride their own bikes most of the way to the top — all but 1.2 miles from the 3,850-foot summit.
The drawback: They weren’t riding with the pros, and many of the fan-riders had to sit for hours in the scorching sun as they awaited, with great anticipation, the 128 pro riders on the last leg of the day’s ride.
I was one of them. As the temperature neared 90 degrees, I spent a lot of time refilling my water bottle with Skratch electrolyte samples at a tent nearby. I also scouted out the best angles for shooting a video. I chose my spot at Devil’s Elbow, with sweeping views of Mount Diablo and the San Ramon Valley below it.
I shot this video of the lead group of riders at the last hairpin turn before the finish. Special feature: Look for the guy dressed as a devil at the end of the video. His real name is Brad Porter and he’s not at all devilish in person.
The Tour of California has become the primo pro road bike racing event in the U.S. Stage 4 on Wednesday goes from Monterey to Cambria on beautiful Highway 1.
Expect hard-core cycling fans to play hookie again. The tour finishes Sunday in Thousand Oaks (Los Angeles County.)