Hanging at the coffee shop in the hotel lobby before the Tour of California is the place to be. You know bike racers and coffee, they can’t NOT stop for a latte or expresso.
The MonteBlue coffee place is the watering hole, it’s like setting up at the only African oasis within 500 miles during a day of drought. You’re gonna see big animals.
We’ve seen Levi Leipheimer, George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde, Brent Bookwalter and old pro Bobby Julich. We’ve seen Radio Shack sports science genius Allan Lim. We borrowed money from HTC-Highroad CEO Bob Stapleton, well, actually not, but we did see him.
We said our hellos to Jonathan Vaughters and handed him a twisted spoke card and insisted he follow us on twitter. We got a photo of the always-obliging Thor Hushovd.
But the highlight was just by chance taking one of the five small tables next to the coffee shop and having Tejay Van Garderen sit down at the next one. Then his girlfriend Jessica Phillips –that’s the named google gave us — sat down with him. One of those simple moments before a big race, just chilling, saying hi to passing friends on other teams.
Finally, I just had to do the paparazzi thing and asked to take a photo. I really do hate to intrude and my old school sense of giving people their privacy sometimes makes sticking my nose in as a journalist a challenge.
What would strike you about Tejay is how laidback and relaxed and, well, ordinary he looks. Not a killer bike racer with plans to win the Tour of California at age 22. But he just might do it and why bet against him?