The pundits of cycling had it right. Tejay van Garderen was poised to win a major stage race, and Peter Sagan had the ability to summon invincible power whenever a stage came down to a sprint finish. As the 750-mile Amgen Tour of California drew to a close Sunday, the 24-year-old van Garderen of the BMC Racing Team captured the overall winner’s yellow jersey for America, and Sagan, the sudden Slovakian known as the “Terminator,” won the final stage in Santa Rosa to earn the sprint champion’s green jersey.
But there was refreshing unpredictability in the stages that finished and started in Santa Barbara last week. Tyler Farrar, escorted to the homestretch by his Garmin-Sharp team, beat Sagan to the punch in a frenzied finish on Cabrillo Boulevard. The next day’s stage defied all expectations. A fierce crosswind buffeted the riders in Santa Maria, and an elite group managed to forge a gap ahead of the main pack, which included Colombia’s Janier Acevedo, the overall leader through four stages. Van Garderen rode with the leaders and took the yellow jersey away from Acevedo.
Jens Voigt, a wily 41-year-old German, decisively and delightfully beat all others to the finish line in Avila Beach. He left the sprinters in the dust by mounting a sustained push over the last two miles. I was reminded of a conversation with Sebastian Hoenig, a UCSB physicist and triathlon competitor who considered Voigt his favorite athlete. “He is always fighting through the pain,” Hoenig said. “He’s human. One day he’s in the top five, and the next he can barely make it to the finish line.” Sure enough, Voigt lost by more than six minutes in the San Jose time trial, won by van Garderen.
HALL OF FAME: Anybody who watched the telecast of the Amgen Tour’s arrival in Santa Barbara realized it’s a beautiful place. It is also a city of beautiful people, many of whom were assembled at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort on Monday night for the 46th annual Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table (SBART) Hall of Fame banquet.
Seven exemplary individuals became members of the Hall of Fame:
• Faha Banks, a dynamic point guard for the Santa Barbara High girls’ basketball team in the late ’80s, now a county probation officer and mother of two, as well as “always a Don.”
• Danny Beal, a swimmer who competed in the U.S. Olympic Trials after graduating from Dos Pueblos High in 2004 and became a 12-time All-American at Stanford.
• David Phreaner, an area physician who starred in water polo and swimming at San Marcos High in the early ’80s and played three years of water polo at UCSB.
• Todd Rogers, who took up volleyball at San Marcos, played and coached the sport at UCSB, and became one of the most successful athletes in professional beach volleyball — a winner of 78 tournaments all over the world and gold medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
• Amber Stevens, a three-time girls’ basketball MVP at Dos Pueblos who took her game to Westmont College, where she holds career records in assists and steals.
• Joby Nunez, an outstanding football player at Santa Barbara High and UCSB who made a lasting imprint as a high school coach — starting at Dos Pueblos, where he was a football assistant and the school’s first soccer coach; returning to his alma mater in the mid-’80s through the ’90s; and later coming out of retirement to help at San Marcos.
• Ethel Byers, a volunteer extraordinaire at numerous tennis and running events, as well as many Round Table functions.
In their acceptance speeches (Rogers gave his via recorded video, as he is competing in a beach tournament in Argentina), every honoree evinced intelligence, graciousness, and humility. Byers set a new standard for brevity, summing up her extensive involvement as its own reward: “It was a huge opportunity to meet people and have fun.
” Kudos to banquet chairperson Jeanie Purcell-Hill for enlivening the program with creative videos, including a closing scene wherein outgoing SBART president Rich Hanna, running to the theme of Chariots of Fire, passes the baton to his successor Laurie Leighty.
TD WITH A VIEW: Keyshawn Johnson grew up in South Central L.A. Before he became a standout receiver for the USC Trojans and four NFL teams, he played football at West Los Angeles College. When he scored a touchdown for the Wildcats during a Saturday-evening game at Santa Barbara City College, Johnson ran out of the east end zone and halfway up the hill overlooking the field.
“The sun was setting,” he recalled last week. “I had to enjoy it.” Johnson now has other reasons to enjoy visiting Santa Barbara. He is part owner of the city’s Panera Bread restaurants in La Cumbre Plaza and the newly opened franchise at 700 State Street. Clearly, his vision still extends beyond the football field.