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Tour de Georgia Cycling News for April 18, 2006

Edited by John Stevenson

Danielson Ready for Georgia and Giro

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Augusta, Georgia

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Discovery Channel's Tom Danielson hinted at his team's presentation in January that one of the three grand tours was in his sights for this season, "A hard one!" he said.

"For me the Giro is as big of an objective as when I talked to you back in January," Danielson said before the team presentation at the Tour de Georgia Monday afternoon. "I started it last year, but had a knee problem so I only did the first few stages. The course [this year] is really good with big mountains and I am going straight after this race to scout so that I know what I am up against. I feel that my preparation is good -- I am sort of biting my fingernails in anticipation about it." So far, Danielson hasn't been able to scout the big stages due to a lot of snow this season. "There has been a lot of snow over the major climbs -- we raced Tirenno-Adriatico and the weather was as bad as Paris-Nice always is."

Danielson is not the same rider who won here last year. For one, won't be able to stay out of the spotlight by hiding behind a certain teammate. And having the number one on his back will provide a nice, big target for other contenders. But he is welcoming this as a test to see how far he has progressed, both mentally and physiologically. "I think that my endurance and my ability to recover after large amounts of training and intensity have improved a lot. I owe most of that to the Vuelta and my experiences last year. This winter I trained very well and confidently -- I haven't done anything too special and have had two top-ten finishes along the way and both of them didn't suit me, so that shows I am right on schedule."

Viacheslav Ekimov
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

As for the Giro, Danielson is content to play a support role for teammate and defending champion Paolo Savoldelli. "I want most of the attention to focus on him. I'm just there to do the best race I can. I don't want to take anything away from his attention because he will have the number one on his back. The climber guys, Triki and Chechu will be very good in the mountains. I think Jason McCartney will be very good on the climbs -- he will be great support but we will see here this week."

But some personal attention will be given to Danielson by the Discovery Channel brains trust. "Sean Yates is really going to help me with riding the stages before. He has a lot of experience and I think these guys and my teammates who have done this race before will help me learn so much. Even if you aren't able to do what they do, you see it and you try to do it the next day."

The immediate task at hand is the six stages in Georgia, including the tough ascent of Brasstown Bald. "The race was really hard last year. Floyd did a really strong time trial last year and we had to play all of our cards to make the race as hard as possible," said Danielson hinting perhaps at Discovery's strategy this year.

More Photos from the teams presentation

For a thumbnail gallery of these images, click here

Images by Jonathan Devich/

Davitamon-Lotto Without McEwen, Horner in Georgia

By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor in Augusta, Georgia

Henk Vogels (center) and Fred Rodriguez (right)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Australian sprinter Robbie McEwen was slated to start the Tour de Georgia for the Davitamon-Lotto squad, but last minute changes saw the multiple Tour de France stage winner decide not to take the start in Augusta. Nonetheless, Davitamon-Lotto is still built for speed with Fred Rodriguez and Henk Vogels packing a powerful one-two punch in bunch sprints. Rodriguez is not shy about his team openly targeting the first two and final stages as the main goal of the team this week.

"We have a couple of guys who are riding well, but I think we are going to focus on the three stage we have that are bunch sprints," Rodriguez told Cyclingnews. "I don't think we have anybody to compete against Tom or any of the top climbers or top time trialists. We do have some younger guys and we will let them give it their best chance and see what they can do. I'm not going to fool myself. Henk and I have three stages out there to make the best of it. The other stages are just way out of our league."

However, having McEwen here would have surely helped that goal along, but it was a late decision based on the bad luck much of team has had this spring in the classics. "I talked to the directors and you know, myself and Robbie have had a pretty off and on spring -- a lot of sickness and injuries," Rodriguez said. "Robbie crashed bad right before the classics started. He thought he would be back on form by now, but he was fighting a lot of discomforts, and right when he started getting better he got sick -- probably due to the stress trying to come back from an injury. He has had a pretty off spring for him, so he just wanted to stay home and rebuild. Coming here was going to be traveling, and the race is really an unknown to him."

Rodriguez has also had a rough spring, much like he did in 2003 before coming to the Tour de Georgia were he turned his season around with back to back stage wins and two second place finishes. With this in mind, Fast Freddie hopes to have a repeat of that Tour de Georgia.

"We'll see if I am back up to par after a choppy spring," Rodriguez said. "But it seems whenever I come home I seem to find an extra 'oomph' somewhere. Who knows, maybe it's the extra humidity in the air! But something does spark in me here. Even when I am down another level like in 2003, when I came into the Tour de Georgia with my head down having had the worst classics ever and not knowing what to do. I came here and all of a sudden I was on. I think it's just time. I had a month and the body had time to figure out what was wrong. Now I feel like it was the same thing, after a month of crashes, injuries and sickness -- now I've had a month off, just not in time for the classics but in time for Georgia."

That year Chris Horner was the man on top, but he is not on the start list either, but for far different reasons. "That [decision] was a big toss-up," Rodriguez said. "Chris has stepped up to a really good team now and wants to prove to our team after the classics that we had -- like with Peter getting disqualified unfairly. Now Chris is one of the top guys with Cadel [Evans] to do well in the Ardenne classics, and then the grand tour. So we need him for those classics with Cadel -- he is the next leader on the team. And at Amstel Gold he was top twenty and this weekend is Flèche Wallone. It is a shame it lands right on Tour de Georgia, but we're a Belgian team and you have to send your best climbers to that race."

Where's Wherry?

Behind the mystery of the phantom USPRO champion

By Kirsten Robbins, in Augusta Georgia

Toyota-United Pro's USPRO champion Chris Wherry is a notable absentee from the 2006 Tour de Georgia. Wherry picked up a parasite while training this winter in Mexico. His symptoms appeared to have improved earlier this year, but he was still having difficulty with the intensity of his training regimen, according to Toyota-United Pro director sportif Frankie Andreau.

Cyclingnews spoke with Andreau just after the team presentation Monday afternoon. Andreau was able to shed some light on the disappearance of the USPRO road race champion, "Wherry came to training camp and he was looking very fit and very skinny but when he was doing the training exercises and riding up the climbs he couldn't get his heart rate elevated," says Andreau. "He felt like he was going hard but something was not feeling right. He went back home to get tested by the doctors and it was found that he had a parasite. The doctors have given him several rounds of medication however it has been four months, January until now, and he is still not a hundred percent. He has since been to see a specialist in Seattle who has worked with George Hincapie."

Wherry has been taking the time needed to have a full recovery from his illness. "He is doing much better now and has been taking the right steps for the road to recovery. He is taking his medicine, seeing specialists, and he is getting better but these situations take a long time to get completely out of the system so that he can start racing again. He did Redlands and he was so-so there, you could tell he was not racing like the Chris Wherry we all know but he is getting stronger," says Andreau.

Andreau added that Wherry will be making his first appearance with the national champion jersey in the Tour de Gila. "He is training good now and if he can get his heart rate back up to normal and train hard while feeling normal then we will send him to Gila," he said.

Andreau expressed to Cyclingnews his feelings on not having Wherry present during some of the largest races in the US. "It has been upsetting to not have Wherry race this spring. We are sad for Wherry and for the team because we have the US national champion jersey on Toyota-United but we have not been able to show that jersey off yet. Wherry is incredibly strong when he is on and he is a huge asset to Toyota-United. We are very excited to have him riding well, participating with the team, and winning races. Our focus with Wherry right now is to get him healthy again. We need to remember it is a long year."

Live Coverage of Tour de Georgia

Follow the Tour de Georgia live with Cyclingnews' Live Coverage. The coverage will start today with Stage 1 starting in Augusta, Georgia and traveling 207km to Macon, Georgia.
Coverage starts at 11:30 EDT (08:30PDT, 17:30 CEST and 01:30 EST).
Estimated time of finish is 16:30 EDT (13:30 PDT, 22:30 CEST and 06:30 EST)

WAP service for Tour de Georgia and other Live Coverage

With the Tour de Georia starting today in Augusta, Georgia, cycling fans don't have to miss a moment of the action thanks to free WAP service from Cyclingnews.

For the Tour de Georgia, simply type http:/ into the browser on your WAP-enabled handheld device or mobile phone, and you can follow the minute by minute, attack by attack action at the 2006 Tour de Georgia from our live commentary team of Kristy Scrymgeour and Mark Zalewski.

The CN WAP service is the best way to follow the 2006 Tour de Georgia while on the move. "After considerable testing, we know this WAP service is far superior to SMS updates. And Cyclingnews is the only website in the world that has this free WAP service," said publisher, Gerard Knapp.

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