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Tour de Georgia - 2.1

USA, April 19-24, 2005

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Stage 1 - April 19: Augusta - Macon, 207.4km

Commentary by Kristy Scrymgeour, with additional reporting from Mark Zalewski & Eddie Monnier

Complete live report

11:19 EDT   
Welcome to Stage One of the 2005 Dodge Tour de Georgia. Today’s race starts in Augusta, GA and covers 204km before reaching Macon where the first stage started and finished last year. The weather is gorgeous in Georgia today. Not a cloud in the sky, with the temperature sitting in the 70's at the moment. It will probably dip into the 80's at some stage today.

Its excitement all round at the start line, with everything looking a little bigger than last year. About 1000 people are lining the streets of the course already. The Lance fans are out in force and Armstrong has been in and out of the "Lance Mobile" (the big team truck) signing a few autographs. Of course this being the last chance many people will have to watch the man in action.

Other teams also have a big truck here, as well as Health Net with their new truck. With so many big Euro teams here this year, the race is bound to be a huge event.

Floyd Landis (Phonak) is also signing a lot of autographs. It will be a big race for him. His first on US soil as a Pro Tour team leader.

Todays stage is relatively flat and has three intermediate sprints along the course, the first being at 35km in the town of Harlem, Georgia. After 185km the race arrived in Macon where the riders will head towards the finish and then do three finishing circuits of 3.4km each. The circuits are the same as last year, so most of the riders will know the course well.

The race is due to start in just over ten minutes.

11:27 EDT   
The riders are all lined up and ready to go in just a few minutes.

11:36 EDT   
The race is underway. The riders will do three parade laps for the people of Augusta, who of course have seen this before, when one of the stages started here two years ago. The crowds are big and there is an excited feel in the air.

11:39 EDT   
Last year in the first stage Gord Fraser (Health Net Maxxis), won the bunch sprint from Ivan Dominguez (Colavita), putting the Canadian sprinter into the leaders jersey. Fraser is coming straight from the Sea Otter Classic, where he held the leaders jersey, but eventually passed it over to his teammate Doug Ollerenshaw.

Although Fraser has been riding well, when Cyclingnews caught up with him before the start today he said that he hasn't been feeling very well. "I've been sick since Redlands and haven't been able to keep any food down." He says that he'll see how he feels out there, but if he's not up to defending today, Health Net/Maxxis also have Greg Henderson and Ivan Dominguez, both great sprinters. In fact Dominguez placed second to Gord here last year, however then he was riding for Colavita.

11:43 EDT   
Quite a few of the US teams/riders have come straight from Sea Otter. Cyclingnews correspondent Mark Zalewski has been speaking with the Health Net team, who did say that it is tough arriving straight from a tough few days of racing.

Also arriving from victory at Sea Otter is mountain biker Geoff Kabush (Maxxis). Kabush rode an amazing cross country race on Sunday to take the stage win in style. His win also giving him the overall win, taking the jersey from Bart Brentjens. Kabush told Cyclingnews that he's extremely tired from the red-eye flight he caught Sunday night, but he's excited. Although normally seen on the dirt, Kabush is here with the Jittery Joe's/Kalahari team, joining Tim Johnson and the rest of the guys. This race is a big thing for them, being a local team and of course they had so much success last year with Cesar Grejales on Brasstown Bald.

11:48 EDT   
Another mountain biker joining the Jittery Joe's squad this year is young Trent Lowe from Australia. His season so far has been a huge success, not only on the dirt. He showed up the climbers at the Redlands Classic, taking the mountain stage. Our reporter, Eddie Monnier talked to him this morning.
"I need to rest over the first few stages and do as little as possible before the mountain stages," he said. "My teammates know that, because I don't have much experience. We'll give it a go in the time trial, because thats an important stage for GC."

11:50 EDT   
The race has just reached the start line after the third neutral parade lap and the riders are now heading out of town marking the real start of the race. School kids are lining the streets with Lance signs and pockets of people are coming out of the homes, offices, shops to watch the race go by.

11:54 EDT    1km/206.4km to go
As the race starts, the peloton is in no hurry. They are spread out across the road, rolling along, getting the feel of the others in the bunch and having a chat. The voice of cycling, Phil Ligget is at the race today, riding along in one of the cars.

11:59 EDT   
Just into the race and the riders hit a climb that is about two kilometers in length. This is where all the people of Augusta moved when their town burnt down at the turn of the century. Quite a few big houses line the streets.

12:01 EDT   
The race has reached the top of the climb and we now have a move from Andrea Tafi (Saunier Duval/Prodir). We here that their team plan is just to attack all day and its Tafi who starts the ball rolling.

We spoke to Tafi before the start who comes to Georgia at the very end of his career, perhaps his last race. He told us that he wants a stage win to finish his career. Perhaps today is the day.

12:06 EDT    8.5km/198.9km to go
Tafi now has a 15 second lead. The bunch is a little strung out and a few riders are trying to bridge. One of the young Symmetrics riders had a go, but didn't make it. Now its David O'Loughlin (Navigators), Irish road champion is having a go.

12:08 EDT   
O'Loughlin has been reeled in and now its Chad Hartley (TIAA CREF) and Michael Rich (Gerolsteiner) have a gap on the field as the race hits a small climb. Tafi is out of the saddle.

12:09 EDT   
Harltey made it to Tafi, but the peloton reeled them both in and its all back together as they travel along a wide open four-lane boulevard on the outskirts of Augusta.

12:14 EDT    13.6km/193.8km to go
We are out of town now and the road has narrowed down to two lanes. School children are still out and there is a lot of screaming as the race heads past the schools and groups of Lance fans. Other Georgians are standing on their pick-ups to get a better view of the race as it goes by and the get some snap shots. The race is all together and things have settled down after that short burst of energy initiated by Saunier Duval.

12:16 EDT    14.4km/193km to go
I spoke too soon, Dan Bowman (TIAA-CREF) has now used a slight incline to attack and has opened up a ten second lead on the bunch. He is in the saddle pounding up the climb. No reaction from the bunch.

12:17 EDT    16km/191.4km to go
The gap has quickly opened up to 45 seconds. Bowman used the descent to open it up as the bunch is still rolling along with no reaction. The road has now opened up again to four lanes.

12:21 EDT   
Bowman's gap continues to grow. It is now at 1'28" as he goes up another rise. The profile of todays course is relatively flat, but in reality its just a lot of small ups and downs. The riders complained about it last year, because its just up and down all day. Typical Georgia roads.

12:22 EDT   
Still no real reaction from the bunch. Bowman has his hands on the drops and his head down, pounding away. He is now on a bit of a straight, flat stretch as he continues to gain tme.

12:25 EDT    21.5km/185.9km to go
The gap is 2'10" and Bowman looks strong. The bunch seems to be happy to let him get a bit of time. Its early days.

12:28 EDT    22.4km/185km to go
Like many of the guys on the TIAA CREF team, Dan is at University. He studies Business administration at Fort Collins and of course his aim is to one day get a Division 1 contract in Europe.

His gap to the field is 2'10" and the field is spread across the road. There is no chase at this point.

12:36 EDT    24.8km/182.6km to go
The gap continues to grow and is now 3'30". In another ten km's we'll see the first Maxxis sprint in Harlem. As well as sprint points, some of the sprints also have cash prizes. Perhaps teams going for the sprint jersey might up the pace soon for the first sprint, but for now they are just cruising along. We are now an hour into the race and we've only covered 25km. The riders know they have a hard week ahead of them and are not about to rush into it this early in the day.

12:40 EDT    30.5km/176.9km to go
Five kilometers to the sprint for the leader and his gap is now 4'35". The first sprint holds points but no cash. The last sprint of the days has $800 up for grabs.

12:44 EDT    33.5km/173.9km to go
With two kilometers until the sprint, Bowman's lead has increased again to 5'25".

12:51 EDT   
One reader has written is to inform us that we have a new Pope. It is Cardinal Ratzinger from Germany and he has taken the name Benedict XVI.

12:57 EDT    38.4km/169km to go
Of course Bowman took the sprint. Behind it was the Health Net team who got to the front before the sprint for Gord Fraser. The sprint for second, however was taken by Brice Jones from Jelly Belly/Pool Gel, with Gord taking third.

12:58 EDT   
After the sprint was a sharp turn and counter attacks came directly from the sprint with Saunier Duval trying to shake things us. Everything was quickly reeled in and now its just Bowman out in front as per before the sprint.

13:02 EDT    40km/167.4km to go
Bowman's lead is now 5'28" and the peloton have slowed down again. TIAA CREF team director Jonathan Vaughters has just moved the team car up to Bowman now that the sprint is over.

13:08 EDT   
We are coming up to the 50km mark with 20km to the next sprint. Dan's gap is still at 5'45". The peloton are still cruising easily along. On the front are a few Dicsovery riders, a CSC rider and a Colavita rider yapping away. The road is still wide open and the bunch is spread across it.

13:11 EDT    50km/157.4km to go
The latest time gap is seven minutes. Bowman has hit the 50km mark which means feeding is now allowed from the car. He has his team car there behind him to hand over fluid and food if needed.

13:13 EDT   
The gap is getting bigger very rapidly. In the last couple of kilometers it has grown another minute and is now at 7'55". The bunch is still as the 46km mark whereas Dan is well into the 50's and looking strong.

13:16 EDT   
I have just been informed that Dan actually attends school in Fort Lewis, not Fort Collins. Its the University of Colorado.

13:18 EDT   
A big hello to the kids at Fall Creek Intermediate School in Fishers, Indiana, who are reading the live coverage of Tour de Georgia on Cyclingnews. Their teacher David Bradley says:
"I have around 100 5th grade students watching the race through your
updates today here in Indiana! We are all pretty bummed about Lance
and his retirement, but wish him, Sheryl, Luke, Isabella, and Grace
all the luck after the Tour!"

13:23 EDT    55km/152.4km to go
The peloton has just reached the 50km mark, but with Bowman still a long way up the road. His gap is 8'30" and will likely grow again as the guys back in the bunch are now allowed feeding from the car and all the teams have sent someone back to get bottles. A lot of fluid will be needed today as it is quite warm outside.

13:32 EDT   
As you'll see from the start list, there are 16 teams in the race this year, eight of them being Euro teams and the rest North American domestic teams.

We spoke with the Symmetrics team out of Canada this morning. They are of course led by one of the great Canadian riders Eric Wohlberg. We spoke with Jeremy Storie, this morning, one of the team managers, who said this week is all about getting their name out there. They'll be trying to get in some moves and will be mainly focusing on their U23 riders.

13:36 EDT    65km/142.4km to go
Bowman is now nearing the second sprint of the day, which is in Warrenton, Georgia. He has 9'50" on the field and continues to look pretty strong. He is going to need as much time as possible if he wants this to work, as the sprinting teams will be wanting to bring this back for a stage win later in the day.

13:39 EDT   
OK, once again I have messed up the school in which Bowman attends. I hope I've got it right this time - thanks to all those people who have written in trying to help me get it right. Bowman goes to Fort Lewis College which is in Durango, Colorado. Also the school of Tom Danielson!

13:47 EDT   
Many people have asked where Lance Armstrong is and how he is doing, one reader in particular from Cypress. Currently Lance is sitting comfortably in the peloton, in the top 15 riders just staying safe. He has his Discovery teammates around him and is looking relaxed.

13:52 EDT   
The discovery riders at TDG this year are:
1 Lance Armstrong (USA)
2 José Azevedo (Por)
3 Michael Barry (Can)
4 Antonio Cruz (USA)
5 Tom Danielson (USA)
6 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus)
7 Jason McCartney (USA)
8 José Luis Rubiera (Spa)

Definitely a different team from last year. Danielson and McCartney two US riders new to the team. We talked to Danielson this morning who says he is feeling good.

13:56 EDT   
One young star from the race last year is Cesar Grejales, now riding for Navigators. We spoke with Grejales this morning who is excited about the race. He has been having a few visa problems and has therefore not been able to go to Europe to race yet. "I haven't had much racing so I really don't know what kind of form I have," he said, "but I have been training really hard."

13:57 EDT   
We have results from the sprint. Bowman took the points for winning the sprint. His gap is starting to fall now and it sits at seven minutes. Taking second in the sprint was Greg Henderson (Health Net/Maxxis) and Danilo Napoltano (LPR) took third.

14:02 EDT    75km/132.4km to go
It looks like the field are starting to reel things in again. Although they still have time. Generally if a bunch is really organised they can bring a break back a two minute time gap in ten minutes. With still 135km to go, they will not be in a hurry, but at the same time they will not want to gap to get much bigger than what it is now.

14:05 EDT   
Dan Bowman's teammate Craig Lewis returns to the race this year, recovering the horrific accident he has with the car in the time trial here last year. Although it took some time, he has made a remarkable recovery and is riding very well.

14:08 EDT   
In the last sprint, Gord Fraser didn't attempt the sprint because he was at the back with a mechanical. Instead Henderson went to the front to take the points.

14:16 EDT    85km/122.4km to go
Bowman's gap has gone back up slightly to 8 minutes, but the pace in the peloton is starting to pick up as a few teams are rolling off at the front. At the moment its the Health Net team. Phonak and CSC have also been up there.

14:18 EDT   
The average speed of the peloton has been clocked at 35.2km/h (22m/h) and Dan's average is 40km/h (26m/h).

14:18 EDT   
The terrain is still rolling countryside. Its quite open at the moment but they have been going through wooded areas along the way.

14:28 EDT   
The time gap has gone up again to 9'53", one reason being that the peloton have taken a nature break and so are traveling quite slowly. TIAA CREF man the front of the break and the pace is super slow and way behind schedule.

14:30 EDT   
The gap has increased again! Bowman now has 10'45" on the bunch, who are not chasing at all right now.

14:39 EDT    99km/108.4km to go
Dan's gap is 10'15" now as he rides the typical smooth Georgia roads. Saunier Duval are on the front of the peloton now and the pace in the bunch is picking up slightly, but no real chase quite yet. The bunch have reached the 94km mark with the next point of interest being a sprint at the 144km mark. By then the chase will have to have started.

14:49 EDT   
I'd have to say the peloton is very relaxed today. Right now, as Bowman's gap increases to 11'50", the peloton are rolling along at less than 20km an hour. A couple of Gerolsteiner riders are at the back of the peloton being tourists. Simply looking around and asking questions about the area.

14:50 EDT   
The race is about half way through the distance. People have been asking about Lance and Floyd and where they are in the peloton. They are just in there looking relaxed, not needing to show themselves at all at this point in the race. Meanwhile, Bowman is still powering away up front, doing his thing for TIAA CREF.

14:53 EDT   
A bit more info on the man in the lead. He is 22 years of age, and do date, his best results are 12th place at the Cascade Cycling Classic last year and 8th place at the 2003 U23 National Time Trial Championships. This ride is big for him and for TIAA CREF, who are a team of riders all under the age of 25.

14:57 EDT    108km/99.4km to go
The time gap is up to 13'00" now as the bunch nears the feed zone. At the moment John Lieswyn (Health Net) is on the front and Gord is right in there behind him. The riders are positioning themselves for the feed zone and are still not worried about the chase just yet.

14:59 EDT   
The peloton is really going to have to think about a serious chase relatively soon.

15:14 EDT    118km/89.4km to go
The peloton are through the feed zone and are now at the 113km mark. There is still no visible chase although the pace did pick up a little after the feed zone and the gap is down to 11'35". Currently Gerolsteiner is sitting on the front of the bunch.

15:26 EDT    125km/82.4km to go
A flurry of attacks came upon the field. Cyril Lemoine (Credit Agricole), Davide Frattini (Colavita/Sutter) and Daniele Contrini (LPR) attacked and got a small gap, John Lieswyn made a move, as did Mads Kraggestad (Credit Agricole) but it was all reeled in and the bunch is back to parade pace again. The excitement lessened the gap to Bowman, but he still sits out there at 7'52".

15:28 EDT   
The road is flat and wide at this point as we near the time that the chase is bound to begin. It has dipped into the 80's on the temperature chart, so it is hot and humid again here is Georgia this year.

15:33 EDT   
We are about 20km from the final Maxxis sprint at this point. It is clear that Bowman at the very least will be wearing the sprint jersey going into tomorrows stage. A nice bonus for TIAA CREF.

15:41 EDT   
Not much has changed in the bunch. Still no chase and the time gap is 8'25" right now. The riders have just passed a retirement home and the residents were all out of the sidewalk in their wheelchairs watching the race go by. The riders are still content to dawdle. We actually think that they might stop up ahead at the winery for a bit of wine tasting.

15:43 EDT   
Some bad news for the Gerolsteiner team. Their team car has broken down and they are now using their feed van in the race caravan.

Not long now until the next sprint. The crowds are already starting to form in Macon for the finish. There is a fair set up and a lot of local businesses have set up tables around the finish area, so its all happening!

15:54 EDT    130km/77.4km to go
The gap has gone up again to 9'15" and still no chase. The sprint is coming up however and will probably trigger the action. From the sprint to the finish line is 60km which still should be enough time to reel it in, but its going to have to be a good chase.

15:55 EDT   
There have been wild turkey sightings on the side of the road. Some were worried that they may actually waddle out onto the road in front of the bunch, but so far they have stayed put, content to watch the race go by rather that get involved.

16:01 EDT    144km/63.4km to go
And now it starts. With not long to go before the sprint, Health Net have moved to the front and its single file. The gap has fallen rather quickly to 8'15".
There is a large crowd im Milledgeville to watch the sprint.

16:04 EDT   
Liewwyn leads the team into the town up a small rise. The TIAA CREF boys are sitting in behind the leadout waiting to see how they can slow down the inevitable chase that will happen after the sprint.

16:06 EDT   
Bowman of course had already gone through the sprint to take the points and the $800.

16:08 EDT   
It looks like Health Net took the sprint. As predicted the attacks have started after the sprint. Jeff Louder (Navigators) has attacked and has an immediate 15 seconds on the field. Todd Herriott (Colavita) is trying to bridge but can't quite make it on his own

16:09 EDT   
More riders are trying to come across, there is now a group of 15 riders who have about 10 seconds on the bunch bridging to Louder.

16:09 EDT   
The group of 15 have caught Louder as they go over the rolling hills and they have a gap of about 15 seconds.

16:10 EDT   
The gap to Bowman is now down to 5'35" and falling pretty quickly.

16:15 EDT    154km/53.4km to go
The break of 15 has been reeled in, more attacks are going. It looks like Navigators being aggressive. The Phonak team and Gerolsteiner are present at the front as well as Credit Agricole.

16:16 EDT   
We have another attack from LPR as we go up a slight rise, things are moving pretty quickly now and the gap to Bowman is dropping.

16:20 EDT   
Two riders now have 45 seconds on the field. They are Marco Pinotti (Saunier Duval) and Ivan Fanelli (LPR). Nathan O'Neill (Navigators) is in between trying to bridge and he has 30 seconds on the field.

16:22 EDT   
Pinotti and Fanelli are now only 2'43" behind Bowman. O'Neill is still dangling in between the two chasers and the peloton, which is 3'35" back from Bowman. A tough, long day for Bowman who will now be reeled in before long.

16:24 EDT   
Official sprint results for the final sprint are the same as the second sprint.
Bowman, Henderson, Napolitano.

16:24 EDT    158km/49.4km to go
Lieswyn is on the front of the peloton right now as Health Net lead the peloton, with Jelly Belly now moving up.

16:26 EDT    159km/48.4km to go
Pinotti is doing the majority of the work out of the two chasers.

16:27 EDT   
Bowman will definitely take with him the sprint jersey and also the "Most aggressive rider" jersey, which is a new classification this year voted on by members of the media.

16:32 EDT   
The gap from Bowman to the two chasers is not only a minute and the cars are getting pulled out from behind Bowman. Vaughters has just driven up to Bowman to give him the bad new - he's going to be caught.

16:34 EDT   
Bowman has now been caught after 145km away solo. Pinotti and Fenelli caught and dropped him. A great ride for the young TIAA CREF rider today.
The lead pair now have 2'53 on the peloton. O'Neill has also been caught by the peloton.

16:37 EDT    168km/39.4km to go
We are now going up a nice little climb. Pinotti still doing most of the work up front. Bowman is still hanging out there in between the lead pair and the peloton.

16:38 EDT   
The gap to the leaders is now falling and sits at 1'45" right now. Fenelli has come through to do a turn.

16:39 EDT   
Bowman is back in the peloton.

16:42 EDT   
The gap is 1'20" and dopping.

16:45 EDT   
In another 20km the race will hit Macon again and ride 5km through town before they hit the circuits. The finishing circuits are the same as last year and consist of three laps of a 3.4km loop. Within each lap are two climb, the second climb being the biggest and steepest. After cresting the climb, the road dives back down before making the turn into the finishing straight with only 300m to go.

16:46 EDT   
The gap is down to one minute.

16:49 EDT   
Pinotti has now dropped Fenelli and has a 20 second advantage.

16:58 EDT    180km/27.4km to go
Fenelli has now been caught by the peloton and Pinotti has a 20 second lead but its falling quickly. Health Net are on the front chasing hard.

17:00 EDT   
Only 25km to the finish now. Health Net remained on the front after catching Pinotti keeping the pace high. Colovita are up there too.

17:03 EDT   
Discovery have also moved to the front now. We are on a big four lane road now heading into the city of Macon.

17:05 EDT    182.4km/25km to go
With Health Net still on the front, the race is heading into the city limits of Macon. People are lining the streets even here.

17:07 EDT   
Discovery has taken over the pace setting now as the race turns right onto a two lane road. The roads are a little rougher here. Up ahead the road narrows to one lane.

17:08 EDT   
The pace is not extremely fast just yet, but it won't be long now until we hit the circuits.

17:11 EDT    189km/18.4km to go
Discovery still lead, followed by Colavita, followed by Health Net. We are now on more urban roads and have about 6.5km before we hit the circuits.

17:13 EDT   
We are now in downtown Macon and have just passed the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. The race took a sharp left, then right and a Jelly Belly rider has attacked.

17:14 EDT   
As we near the finish, the crowds are starting to get excited. There is a lot of screaming going on. They have been waiting longer than expected.

17:14 EDT   
The Jelly Belly rider has been caught as the riders hit a cobbled section that consists of sharp corners and descents.

17:17 EDT   
Saunier Duval, Navigators and Discovery riders are up near the front at the moment. We have entered the circiuts and are on a long descent down to the one kilometer to the finish. A CSC rider, Lars Bak has attacked and the bunch is repsonding.

17:17 EDT    197km/10.4km to go
The race has crossed the finish line for the first time. There is now three circuit laps remaining in the race.

17:19 EDT   
Bak now has a ten second advantage over the field.

17:22 EDT   
The bunch is all together. Bak has been caught.
The crowd is huge. Phonak are up near the front.
There is an attack with two riders.

17:23 EDT   
Actually there are three riders off the front. Michael Blaudzin (CSC), Elia Aggiano (LPR) and Matt Rice (Jelly Belly). They have ten seconds on the bunch.

17:25 EDT    200km/7.4km to go
They are being hotly pursued by Discovery. The gap is only four seconds now. The field is really strung out and a small group is getting tailed off at the back of the bunch.

17:25 EDT   
As they go across the finish line with two laps to go the three leaders have been caught.

17:26 EDT   
A few stragglers are entering the course now for the first time, just cruising in.

17:30 EDT    204km/3.4km to go
Two riders have attacked and have a 50m lead. Discovery are chasing again, keeping this under control. The two riders are Andy Schleck (CSC) and Danny Pate (Jelly Belly) and they have a six second lead.

17:33 EDT    205.5km/1.9km to go
Andy Schleck went across the line with one lap to go with his hands in the air, thinking that it was the finish. Bit of bad luck!

The pace is high with only one lap to go. Discovery on the front keeping this safe it seems. Their sprinter Antonio Cruz is back in the middle of the pack. Its all together.

17:34 EDT   
They are half way around the finishing circuit. Its fast and its still all together.

17:35 EDT   
Discovery are still up near the front but so is Health Net. Its single file, they have one kilometer to go.

17:35 EDT   
Navigators are up there too, riders are peeling off. Phonak are leading. Jelly Belly are there too!

17:36 EDT   
Only 200 meters to go and Phonak looks like they are going to take it!
Its Robbie Hunter (Phonak) taking the win!

17:37 EDT   
It looks like it might be Ben Brooks from Jelly Belly taking second place.

Unofficial results

1 Robbie Hunter (Phonak)
2 Ben Brooks (Jelly Belly)
3 Michele Maccanti (LPR) 
4 Daniele Napolitano (LPR)
5 Greg Henderson (Health Net)

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