Most bank executives wouldn’t brag about how many of their employees were watching sports during the workday. Then there’s Alan Rothenberg.

He’s the chief executive at Century City bank holding company 1st Century Bancshares as well as a former president of the U.S. Soccer Federation and head of the organizing committee that brought the World Cup to the United States in 1994.

During the World Cup match between the United States and Belgium earlier this month, Rothenberg got an email from 1st Century’s head of operations, imploring bank employees to stop streaming the game on their computers because all the traffic was slowing down the network. It was an oddly gratifying moment for Rothenberg.

“I forwarded that email to the president of ESPN,” he said. “To see the increasing interest and excitement in soccer here, it’s been great.”

And as a banker, Rothenberg said it was good to know employees were still doing some work.

“We did have the game streaming on a big TV in the boardroom but people wanted to stay at their desks,” he said. “People were multitasking.”

Steep Ride

For cycling amateur Darrach McCarthy, it’s the ultimate thrill: racing on the most challenging part of the Tour de France route just four days before the professional riders get there.

McCarthy, a financial planner who’s the founding partner of Victus Capital Wealth in West Los Angeles, has just left for France to participate in the annual L’Etape du Tour. The tour officials pick one of the mountain stages of the Tour de France and open it up in July for an amateur race. This time, on July 20, it’s a stage in the Pyrenees Mountains near the border with Spain that features the single steepest slope on the whole Tour de France.

McCarthy first competed in L’Etape du Tour three years ago on a 60-mile stage in the French Alps.

“Last time, I didn’t know quite what to expect,” he said. “This time, I’m much more excited.”

The 39-year-old Irish emigrant came to Los Angeles 15 years ago to complete his M.B.A. at USC and soon took up cycling. Over the years, he’s completed charity races, such as the Multiple Sclerosis 100-mile race near Santa Barbara. Four years ago, a friend turned him on to L’Etape. McCarthy found the race was on a whole different level than he was used to.

“Those European cyclists, they were crazy,” he said. “One was coming down a slope at 35 or 40 miles per hour with no hands on the bike – he was eating a sandwich!”

Staff reporters James Rufus Koren and Howard Fine contributed to this column. Page 3 is compiled by editor Charles Crumpley. He can be reached at

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