L.A. Live! – Not only does the world lose Donna Summer and Robin Gibb, but Los Angeles sports teams also went the way of disco this weekend, and all of it coming at Staples Center. After a promising lead-in (Kings win Thursday, Lakers win Friday), Saturday’s games produced two losses for the local basketball teams (including an ignominious choke away by the Clippers), and Sunday saw the Kings lose for just the second time these playoffs, while the Clippers put up more of a fight last night but ultimately got swept out, just another one and done team (like the Lakers soon enough).
L.A. Live is the kind of fabricated name of a fabricated scene that gives Los Angeles a fabricated image, but it’s still shiny and new and has definitely made itself a cornerstone of our downtown’s long threatened revitalization. This weekend’s “perfect storm” of events is exactly what AEG was hoping for when they developed and named LA Live…not only do they own Staples Center, but also the Kings, with an interest in the Lakers, and they’re also one of the main sponsors of the Amgen Tour of California. When your humble Monday reporter rode his bike downtown yesterday at 8 am to ride the final circuit before the pros, the place was already lousy with cyclists and Kings fans and even a few Clipper fans still holding out hope.
So, good readers, humor me with some cycling recap, since I probably paid more attention to it than any of the other sports this week.
The Tour of California started up north, through Napa and the Bay area, long ass rides through rolling countryside but no real climbs at first…and stealing the show was a 22 year old punk-looking Slovakian named Peter Sagan, who won the first four stages…a rare enough feat, but it gets weirder because the same rider, Heinrich Haussler, finished second each time. Heinrich Haussler must be the German-Australian word for Buffalo Bills.
The only thing I knew about Dave Zibriskie before this race is that he wore a Captain America helmet on time trials, his specialty, and that the product he puts his name on – DZ Nutz – is a kind of taint lube to make long rides more comfortable on the crotch. Ever the crack businessman, you could say he saw a niche and filled it. Zibriskie destroyed the time trial fifth stage and took the overall lead, and perhaps for the sixth time in seven runnings, an American would win the race. It probably wouldn’t be three time champ Levi Leipheimer, who just back in April was smashed from behind by an 82-year-old Spanish coot, and broke his femur. That he was out here at all (and would finish sixth!), is pretty amazing.
Stage six was won by a Frenchman, Sylvan Georges, who broke away early from the pack and was never reeled in, going nearly wire to wire to the top of Big Bear Lake. Stage 7, I was happy to see, actually looked as hard on television as it did to ride, with pros cracking and falling off the pack all day. American Chris Horner, last year’s champ, tried to pull a Sylvan Georges and break away early, and for a long time the 39-year old had a big enough lead to wear the “virtual yellow jersey” but those last three miles got to him too, and 25-year old Dutchman Robert Gesnick pushed to the front, almost wrecked on the very last switchback, but held on to win the stage and all but cement the overall victory. Gesnick had a slight advantage over Leipheimer, he broke his leg in a training accident a whole eight months ago (not to mention the personal tragedy of losing his father in a cycling accident last year).
Gesnick stayed up on his bike from Beverly Hills to Downtown yesterday, which is all he needed to do to stay ahead of Zabriskie…but the story of the day, and the whole tour, was yet another stage win by Peter Sagan, who has a kind of gutteral, nasal voice with his Slovakian accent, in which he said in the after race interview, “I like this country.”
A rider who never cracks, Grote2DMax tomorrow.