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Nūz: Santa Cruz County News Briefs

A day of mad cycling, as witnessed from our perch near the Stage 2 finish line of the Amgen Tour of California.

Race Day Mayhem

With the finish line of Stage 2 of the Amgen Tour of California a mere bike-length away from the Metro Santa Cruz office at the corner of Front and Cooper streets, Nūz had a front row seat for the conclusion of the big race. But while the thrilling first-place finish by Washington State's Thomas Peterson was the sporting news headline of the day, the grand spectacle of a pro cycling event in Santa Cruz nearly eclipsed the race itself.

Starting in the early morning hours, barricades, stages and tents were set up along Front Street while a steady stream of bike fans packed the sidewalks, balconies and even rooftops of local businesses. Around noon, announcers began whipping the crowd into a frenzy with up-to-the-minute racing news, which included Peterson's late breakaway from Levi Leipheimer and the crash that caused Watsonville native Andy Jacques-Maynes to drop out of the race with an injury. Cycling god Lance Armstrong, who was also involved in the crash that took out Jacques-Maynes, finished about 20 seconds behind the race leaders in 13th place, and Ben Jacques-Maynes (Andy's twin brother) finished a bit under two minutes behind the winner, coming in 22nd.

After a soaking wet Stage 1 on Sunday, rain was a major worry for the day's event, but as if by divine intervention, the torrential showers that began late last week and continued into Monday morning stopped around noon to allow the thousands of bike fans to celebrate in peace. The downpour started again about an hour after the crowds had dissipated.

Among the screaming bike fans was San Jose's Scott Townsend, who called the lineup "every bit as good as the Tour de France" and promised he'd be back if the race came to Santa Cruz again. Local fans like Winkie Rose called the event "overwhelming" and she said it made her proud to be a Santa Cruz resident.

"I just think this entire race was such a great thing for our community," said Rose, beaming. "I love the riders and I love this town. What a great day for Santa Cruz."

Nūz just loves juicy tips about Santa Cruz County politics.

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