In spite of the rain and the chilling wind, hundreds of fans lined Monterey Street in downtown San Luis Obispo waiting for the competitors in the 2008 Amgen Tour of California to cross the finish line.
“The Tour of California is great advertising for California and it shows off how beautiful this county is,” mechanical engineering freshman Jim Feliz said.
Dominique Rollin won stage four in a solo 19-second victory after riding through rain and a strong headwind for over seven hours. George Hincapie and Iker Camano Ortuzar, who took second and third place, respectively, followed him.
“It’s a lot of fun to see all the pro-tour guys because you see them all year on TV, but then now they’re in your backyard,” said 18-year-old Cuesta College student Trevor Jackson.
Stage four is the longest stage of the tour stretching along U.S. Highway 1 from Seaside (Monterey) to San Luis Obispo. The length of the course is 135.3 miles and mostly composed of hilly terrain.
Yesterday’s race began at 10 a.m. and the bikers were scheduled to finish between 3:30 and 4:30 p.m. However, due to the weather, they ended up finishing just after 5 p.m.
2006 Canadian road champion Rollin began the stage approximately 25 minutes out of the overall lead, but caught up to take the win as other riders faded due to the inclement weather conditions and illness.
Rollin, who is sponsored by Toyota-United, pulled away and rode alone in the final 15 miles of the competition.
Downtown San Luis Obispo was bustling with traffic, as there were road closures around Monterey, Chorro and Osos streets to accommodate the finish line of stage four of the tour.
The awards stage for the competition was located just past the finish line at the intersection of Monterey and Osos. The winner received a 9-liter Pinot Noir wine from Windward Vineyard. The bottle was etched by local artist Candice Norcross.
Individuals watching the tour seemed to enjoy the hype in spite of the traffic and crowds and felt that it provided a positive representation of the area.
“It’s a good place to have on the tour because people get to see the town and it brings a lot of people out,” said general engineering freshman Brian Jackson.