Slovakian Peter Sagan wins Stage 2 of the Tour of California 

click to enlarge Mass appeal: Cyclist Levi Leipheimer signs a shirt for a fan in San Francisco on Monday before Stage 2 of the Tour of California. - MIKE KOOZMIN/THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Mike Koozmin/The S.F. Examiner
  • Mass appeal: Cyclist Levi Leipheimer signs a shirt for a fan in San Francisco on Monday before Stage 2 of the Tour of California.

Fans of all sizes made their way to Marina Green on Monday morning for Stage 2 of the Tour of California, the nation’s biggest professional cycling event. There were young children dutifully following their parents on their two-wheelers and serious-looking cyclists cruising around with state-of-the-art equipment.

The majority of the hundreds of cycling fans in attendance came, naturally, with bikes in tow to see off the group of professional riders, who took a grueling 117.1-mile trek down to Aptos.

Matt Kuhn of Portland, Ore., made the trip to San Francisco to see the race, along with wife Angelique and 3-year-old daughter Eleanor. Huge cycling boosters, the Kuhns said they planned to check out four or five stages of the eight-day race, rooting on the Radio Shack team that includes defending champ Chris Horner.

“I think we’re always a little surprised that more people from San Francisco don’t check out the race,” said Matt Kuhn, who has attended the competition every year. “But there’s still a good crowd here.”

Although the cloudy, cool conditions were not ideal for spectators, the weather was perfect for the cyclists, who faced little wind resistance at normally blustery Marina Green. The route took the racers along the Bay and through the Presidio before heading south on the Great Highway.

“It’s a perfect day for a ride,” said city resident Mike Cruz, a former cyclist. “It’s a lot better than the rain we’ve seen in years past.”

Cal O’Kelly said the makeup of the fans at Marina Green reflected The City’s tight-knit bicycling community.

“The crowds are always bigger at the finish of the race than the start, so I’m not surprised it’s a relatively small gathering here,” said O’Kelly, a native of Ireland who now lives in The City. “But you can tell that every person here is a big fan of cycling. This race definitely brings out the die-hards.”

Several tour riders wended their way through the crowd before the race, stopping to shake hands and speak briefly with fans.

“This race is a great chance to check out your favorite riders,” said Craig Hagelin, a Walnut Creek resident who took the day off to watch the start of the race. “This only comes around once a year, so it’s a pretty big deal for cycling fans in the state.”

Stage 2 of the Tour of California
The grueling race traveled to Santa Cruz County on Monday:

  • Route: San Francisco to Aptos in Santa Cruz County
  • Miles: 117.1
  • Major climbs: Two — at Empire Grade and Bear Creek Road in Santa Cruz County

Source: Tour of California

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