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Tour of Georgia - 2.3
Georgia, USA, April 22-27, 2003
Produced by Kristy Scrymgeour and Jeff Jones, with reporting by Tim Maloney
Stage 5 - April 27: Atlanta Circuit Race, 141.7km
Welcome to the live coverage of the final stage of the Dodge Tour de Georgia. Today's race is a circuit race covering 141km around NE Atlanta. It is nine laps of a 15.7km circuit which is mostly flat.
Yesterday's stage saw a major shake up in the overall classification with Team Saturn reclaiming the leader's jersey that they lost to Henk Vogels (Navigators) on stage one. Vogels surrendered the jersey by over 12 minutes in yesterday's stage from Dalton to Gainesville when he failed to make the final selection over Woody Gap. Chris Horner (Saturn) is now in possession of the jersey after a tremendously strong ride by the Saturn team.
Looking to avenge his haunting 20 second time penalty from stage one will be Freddy Rodriguez (Vini Caldirola - Sidermec) who sits just 18 seconds behind Horner. There are plenty of opportunities to make up seconds with bonus sprints along the way, but the Saturn team will be fiercely defending their lead, and yesterday they proved they have the strength and determination to do just that.
1:00pm EDT 141km to go
According to our reporter Tim Maloney who is on the start line, it is a beautiful, hot day in Atlanta Georgia and a little windy. The course is supposed to be flat, but after looking it over it appears that it is going to be quite brutal. It looks like the typical North American circuit race with a wide open four lane road and some technical city corners to navigate, as well as an uphill sprint to the finish line.
It will be interesting to see how Rodriguez fares on this uphill sprint against Horner who is in such great form right now. Another rider to look for today will be Kevin De Weert (Rabobank). He is now third in the young riders classification behind Saul Raisin (Ofoto - Lombardi Sports), and will be making every effort to take back the seven seconds he needs to claim the Young Riders jersey.
1:09pm EDT 139km to go
The race is underway and right from the word go it looks like the Saturn team is rocking at the front ready to keep things under control. The attacks are starting already, with Rabobank rider gaining 20 meters on the field, but Saturn are right there picking up the pace to cover this move.
Saturn's plan today will be to keep their team at the front the whole day and simply ride tempo. It is unlikely that they will attempt to go with breaks until maybe the last couple of laps, but they will use the strength of their team to keep the pace high enough that any attacks are gradually brought back before they become dangerous.
1:20pm EDT 130km to go
The early attacking strategy by Rabobank seems to have stopped and the riders are riding steadily along at about 35km/h trying to get a feel for the course. The course is fairly technical, alternating between long straight stretches and criterium like corners. The peloton will probably take the first couple of laps fairly easily to adjust to this course.
Cyclingnews talked with Floyd Landis this morning before the start of the race. He was very pleased with his race yesterday, especially as he is coming off a hip injury. "Today I am really going to go hard again and try to get in a break. I'm not aiming to win, but I want to go out there and ride hard to test myself out."
1:30pm EDT 126.4km to go
The Vini Caldirola - Sidermec team has moved to the front of the peloton now heading into the second lap. They are trying to set Rodriguez up for the sprint that comes up at the end of the second lap. If Rodriguez can win this sprint it will give him a time bonus of 3 seconds and bring him that little bit closer to Horner on GC. However there are also 2 and 1 second bonuses for the riders who come second and third in the sprint respectively. Rodriguez will be hoping that Horner doesn't get any of those seconds.
There are big crowds lining the streets in Atlanta today, locals trying to get a glimpse of what will hopefully be an annual event in the state of Georgia.
1:44pm EDT 110km to go
Vini Caldirola - Sidermec is still on the front. Rodriguez sitting comfortably on the team train coming into the sprint.
It looks like Rodriguez has taken the first sprint of the day!
1:51pm EDT 105km to go
We still don't have the official sprint results in yet or whether or not Horner also took bonus seconds. Immediately after the sprint, the race spring into action and teams are on the attack. We are seeing attacks by Rabobank, Ofoto-Lombardi Sports and Prime Alliance.
1:56pm EDT 100km to go
An break has now got a gap of about 15 seconds on the field. In that break is Kevin De Weert (Rabobank) and his Bobbie Traskel, who will be attempting to spring De Weert of the front to put pressure on Raisin for the Young Riders jersey.
Sprint results have come in. Rodriguez in first, followed by Miguel Meza and Chris Horner. Therefore Rodriguez moves up two seconds on Horner and into third place on GC in front of Roland Green (US Postal Service). The next victim for Rodriguez will be Nathan O'Neill (Saturn), but he needs quite a few seconds for that to eventuate.
2:05pm EDT 94km to go
The break that consisted of De Weert, Traskel, Antonio Rizzi (Formaggi Pinzolo Fiave), Svein Tuft (Prime Alliance), Mariano Friedrick (Jelly Belly - Carlsbad Clothing), David O'Laughlin (Ofoto -Lombardi Sports), James Mattis (Webcor) and Scottie Weiss (West Virginia Pro Cycling) has been caught except one rider, Rizzi. He will be looking for others to join him again, however Saturn is on the front chasing..
This race is going to aggresive for all of its 141km. So far Saturn has been able to contain it buy putting it's guys on the front and steadily bringing back attacks slowly. Many comments have been made over the last few day at how remarkably Saturn have been riding. Some Europeans admitted that they underestimated the strength of the US pro teams, especially Saturn who is listed as a Division three team, but are riding like a division one team.
2:15pm EDT 85km to go
Rizza has been caught and with a very active field another break is away consisting of riders Brice Jones (7UP-Maxxis), Miguel Meza (Shroeder Iron), Tim Larkin (Ofoto - Lombardi Sports),and John Peters (Prime Alliance).
2:21pm EDT 81km to go
This break has been caught and with 2 km until the next sprint for time bonus seconds, Vini Caldirola are once again on the front setting things up for Rodriguez. Rodriguez is sitting on the wheel of his teammate Mauro Gerosa, but once again Horner is on his wheel.
Rodriguez takes the sprint again. Thats two down and two to go. The closer Rodriguez gets to the leaders jersey, the more that time penalty from Stage one will be haunting him.
2:26pm EDT 78km to go
Prime Alliance has counter attacked the sprint.
2:31pm EDT 75km to go
By winning that second sprint, Rodriguez moved into second on GC ahead of O'Neill. Freddy is not dead! There continue to be a lot of attacks but nothing is sticking yet. Saturn's unsung heroes such as Tim Johnson, Eric Wohlberg and Phil Zajicek have played an enormously instrumental role over the past few days and continue to do so today. Saturn are really proving that their team dynamics are in good working order.
2:40pm EDT70km to go
There is now a break up the road with a gap of 30" and growing. The riders are Maarten Den Bakker (Rabobank), Jacob Bausch (Schroeder Iron), Peter Knudsen (Schroeder Iron), Tim Larkin (Ofoto - Lombardi Sports), Steve Larsen (Webcor) and Adam Sbeih (Sierra Nevada-Clif Bar). So it is the California guys with the Dutchies!
The break now has 1 minute on the field and riding well. Den Bakker is doing a lot of work on the front here.
There has been a crash in the field claiming Roland Green (US Postal Service) and Swiss rider Roman Peter (ofoto-Lombardi Sports). Roland has abandoned the race and forfeited his top 5 position in GC. He said this morning, "I have really enjoyed the racing I have been doing on the road. Over the next 11 weekends I will be back into the MTB races and this has been great preparation for me.
Saturn and Vini Caldirola-Sidermec are chasing and the break is losing a little time. The gap is now down to about 40 seconds. Tim Larkin is looking strong and doing a lot of the work.
I would like to make a correction to an earlier statement. Kevin De Weert (Rabobank) is 3rd in the young rider competition, Chad Hartley is 2nd, and is in 23rd place, 5 seconds behind Saul Raisin. Hartley rides for Jittery Joe's. This correction came from Hartley's loving girlfriend, Kirsten who would like to wish him a happy 22nd birthday.
Going back to the results of the second sprint. Behind Rodriguez were Charles Dionne (Saturn) and Greg Henderson (7UP - Maxxis). Rodriguez has so far managed to gain 5 valuable seconds on Horner.
3:06pm EDT 48km to go
The break remains away, holding a gap that is oscillating between 45" and 1'00". The riders have just gone through the finish line at the end of the sixth lap. There was a sprint which was taken by Larkin, followed by Larsen and Sbeih.
Out of the six riders in the break the highest on GC in Larkin who started the day 1'47" down. For him to be any danger to Saturn, this break would have to gain over an additional minute. Saturn would feel pretty safe leaving this break out there right now and merely keeping it within a minute. It is actually a perfect situation for them as it saved them from Rodriguez taking more sprint seconds.
3:26pm EDT 31km to go
The break is still out there holding 45" with two laps to go on this final stage. The race is pretty fast right now at about 44km/h and Den Bakker and Larsen are still driving this break.
Pretty soon Saturn and Vini Caldirola - Sidermec are bound to up the pace behind and try to bring this back.
3:32pm EDT 27km to go
The break is holding 45" and all riders are still looking strong. Behind in the peloton, Saturn and Flanders - Iteamnova are chasing hard. Vini Caldirola-Sidermec are not joining in this chase yet and will probably save themselves for the last lap when the pace will really be on. Chances are this break will be swallowed up in the final explosion of the last lap, but right now they are holding strong.
Flanders -Iteamnova really want to try to keep the gap down in this break in an attempt to keep two of theor riders in the top ten in GC. They have been riding well all week and if they can keep Allan Iacuone and Scott Guyton up there in 7th and 9th position they will be happy.
3:43pm EDT 18km to go
The gap is closing a little and now it seems that Prime Alliance is working hard at the front to bring this break back. One to watch in their team is David Clinger. He is a strong rider and would be a favourite in an uphill sprint. The gap is now at 20sec as the riders approach the bell lap.
It is interesting to watch the dynamics of this break. Den Bakker with many years of experience as a European pro really taking control, ensuring that the pace remains consitent. Steve Larsen also playing a big role in the same way.
3:51pm EDT 15km to go
The break has now been swallowed up as the race heads up the incline of the finishing straight with one lap to go. An immediate counter attack has gone with Floyd Landis and two others, with Landis pounding away on the front trying to get this to work.
3:56pm EDT 10km to go
This attempt didn't go anywhere, the bunch is now all back together. Another attack from Schroeder Iron, also to no avail. Prime Alliance are really riding at a hellish pace on the front now with Tuft and Danny Pate. Clinger is sitting comfortably in there as they attempt to set him up for the stage win.
3:59pm EDT 8km to go
The yellow jerseys of Saturn are now at the front as the pace picks up even more. Sitting at the back of their train is race leader Horner ready to take his tour win. Rodriguez is also there right behind Horner and looking great for yet another stage win.
There is a 10 second time bonus at the finish, not quite enough for Rodriguez to take the Yellow jersey unless, for some strange reason Horner is gapped at the finish line. Horner's team are of course not willing to let that happen, as they ride in unison at the front.
4:05pm EDT 4km to go
There is a lot of attacking going on now. US Postal Service are trying to get away, as are Flanders - Iteamnova, but nothing is sticking.
Coming up the finishing straight now, Prime Alliance are driving on the front and its Alex Candelario dropping Clinger off with 200m to go.
Its close! Its a photo finish between David Clinger and Fred Rodriguez!
Results - unofficial
1. David Clinger - Prime Alliance
GC - unofficial
1. Chris Horner -Saturn
Tim Maloney just spoke with Clinger on the finish line. Clinger is elated with his win, "I've been struggling a bit lately with my knee injury and a couple of second places so now its nice to get this win. We kept ourselves very calm and waited until the right moment. I had a lot of help from my team and we really went for it. Rodriguez got boxed in on the right and I held him off".
I'm sure a reader called James P will be ecstatic about the win by Clinger as he wrote in to Cyclingnews earlier making this prediction.