It was as if the Golden State Warriors showed up at your driveway basketball court, ran a three-second fast break leading to a Klay Thompson dunk, and took off.
That’s how quickly the professional riders in the Amgen Tour of California cycling race streamed past onlookers at the corner of Foothill and Cieneguitas Roads shortly after they descended from San Marcos Pass early Thursday afternoon.
“It was a blur,” said Jill Ellis, who hoped to see Tejay van Garderen, the overall race leader. He was somewhere in the peloton of over 100 riders who trailed a breakaway group. “He’s married to a high-school friend,” Ellis said. “He must have gone past us. I think I saw a flash of yellow [the leader’s jersey color].”
The cyclists reached a reported 62 mph on the downhill side of Highway 154. Aided by a strong tailwind, they raced on Foothill past La Colina Junior High well above the posted speed limit of 25 mph. The race was going so fast – about 30 minutes ahead of schedule – that four PE classes of La Colina students were disappointed. They flocked to the street several minutes after the 132 riders had already blown past the school.
Brian Beynon did not miss it. He lived just off Foothill and pulled his three young children out of school so they could experience world-class cycling.
“I wanted the kids to see great athletics that’s not in a stadium,” he said. “It’s something they can do. They like to ride their bikes.”
It was Stage 5 of the Amgen Tour, the longest of the seven stages at 136.4 miles. It started at 10 a.m. in Pismo Beach, and shortly before 3 p.m., young Spanish rider Ivan Garcia Cortina of the Bahrain-Merida team was first to reach the finish line in Ventura. Van Garderen, racing for the U.S.-based EF Education First team, retained the yellow jersey.
A three-stage women’s tour began Thursday in Ventura, and Anna van der Breggen of the Netherlands won on a solo breakaway.
The tours continue Friday on Mt. Baldy and will conclude Saturday in Pasadena.