Tour de Georgia Cycling News for April 23, 2006
Edited by John Stevenson
Tour de Georgia stage 5: Fire on the mountain
Brasstown Bald showdown decides Georgia
Floyd Landis (Phonak)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
Floyd Landis (Phonak) and Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel) shared the glory on the queen stage of the Tour de Georgia as Danielson took the stage victory atop Brasstown Bald but Landis crossed the line right on his wheel to retain the race lead.
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The two Americans played cat and mouse on the gruelling 5km ascent. Landis found himself outnumbered by Discovery riders, but after a brief attack to test Danielson's legs, the Phonak rider was content to let them work, knowing all he had to do was shadow Danielson. "I was just looking for the finish, trying to stay with him," said Landis. "It was just a matter of sticking to him."
Danielson acknowledged that Landis was stronger this year than last, when the race lead had changed hands on this climb. "We definitely underestimated Floyd," said Danielson. "He was very strong today and was gritting his teeth -- he really gave it everything he had."
Earlier in the stage, Danielson's team-mate Jason McCartney confirmed his status as one of the US' most promising young riders by wresting the king of the mountains jersey from TIAA-CREF's Lucas Euser. McCartney again broke away early and took the maximum points on the first two climbs, before being caught on the second descent.
Stage 6 preview: Last chance for the flatlanders
Gord Fraser and Greg Henderson (Health Net) go one-two in the final stage in 2005
©: Jonathan Devich
Stage six of Tour de Georgia is the final stage of the tour and very much a sprinters stage. (See stage map & profile). The stage is 190km long with only one KOM early in the stage and finishing with 6 laps of a fast 6km finishing circuit.
Last year, the stage finished in the same way and we saw Gord Fraser (Health Net) come through with the goods to take the sprint with his teammate Greg Henderson finishing right behind him taking second place and the overall sprint jersey.
Floyd Landis has the yellow jersey safely on his back and only has to stay on his bike to keep the lead so his team will work for one more day to keep him safe and the race will be left to breakaway riders or more likely the sprinters.
Make sure you follow all the action, live on Cyclingnews, from 12:30 local time (EDT), 09:30 PDT (USA West) 14:30 CEST (Europe), 02:30
AEST (Australia East).
Click here for the full report from stage 5 and stage 6 preview.
Tom Danielson: The battle of Brasstown Bald
By Kirsten Robbins
Tom Danielson (Discovery)
Photo ©: Trish Albert
Fans of the Tour de Georgia have been waiting all week for the Brasstown Bald battle between Floyd Landis and Tom Danielson. It was the most anticipated stage of the 2006 Tour de Georgia. After winning the stage, but failing to knock Phonak's Floyd Landis off the top of the general classification listing, Discovery Channel rider tom Danielson spoke about the stage and the race overall.
"Losing this jersey by four seconds to me is not a loss," said Danielson. "I am very satisfied with that. Second in the time trial and a stage win today - I am happy with that.
"For sure today we had a very strong team and we were ready to do a great climb," said Danielson. "My perspective is that we under-estimated how strong Floyd is. We had such a great team that at one point there were three of us left on the climb, and one of him."
Danielson explains the strength Team Discovery displayed coming into Brasstown Bald. "The team did an amazing job keeping the pace really high going into the climb. The difference between this year and last year is that last year I attacked at the bottom. This year I put all my cards on the very end of the Brasstown climb but Floyd was very strong today."
The battle between Danielson and Landis was almost uninterrupted until Danielson's Discovery teammate Popovych came blowing through. The crowds went crazy watching Popovych fly through the stare-down between the two Brasstown favorites. "A couple of times before [that] we came to a track-stand, balancing our bikes on the road," said Danielson. "We were waiting for our tactical maneuvers and it was like a chess match this year. It was a very exciting race all the way to the end. I think that Floyd was strong and we did the best ride we could."
Danielson describes that tactics behind the last leg to the finish as being very cautious. "We both respect each other a lot. He knows what I am doing and I know what he is doing. So, in the end I was waiting for Popovich and Landis was not pedaling but then again, why should he pedal when he is in the leader's jersey? Then I stopped because what could I do? There was a head wind and it didn't make sense for me to pull the whole way to the line. So, we were working on balancing our bikes in the road."
Many questions have been asked about the similarities and differences between racing in the U.S. versus Europe. Danielson view was that, "The climbing here is similar to the climbing in Europe. Today's stage is similar to what you would see in the Giro d'Italia. There are smaller roads and lots of turns with undulating terrain. Today's climb was five kilometers steep but in the Giro the climbs are twenty kilometers long and just as steep. The weather is similar too, lots of rain today!"
The Tour de Georgia has found one rider who stands out as being the strongest and most reliable domestique: Discovery rider Jason McCartney. "There are no words for how Jason McCartney has been riding this week," said Danielson. "Jason is incredible. I mean yesterday in the breakaway - he was the breakaway - and today he was in the breakaway again and when he came back he was still pulling at the end."
Danielson added that, "people don't know this but [McCartney] has been sick this week. On stage two he had to stop at the side of the road and was totally out of the race because he was sick. The ambulance and everyone had gone by and he chased himself back into the race on the finishing circuits. Then he did the time trial and got top ten, then in the break yesterday and again today. The guy is incredible."
The team will be heading to contend in the Giro d'Italia in ten days time, Danielson wishes McCartney the ride of his life. "The guy has no idea how strong he is and I am looking forward to seeing him perform in the Giro next month and see if maybe he can win a stage, do something really special in the mountains and just have a great ride."
As the press conference on Brasstown Bald came to a close Danielson described his feelings on his performance. "I am very happy with my time trail. As far as my performance today - I am very happy with my performance. Perhaps I did not tactically assess the situation my best. I was a bit conservative and it ended up being harder for me. Like I said a couple of days ago; Floyd is one of the best riders in the world and to be up there with him is a very special thing for me. In two years I hope I am in the grand tours and I feel like I am making progress in that direction."
How McCartney gets his wings
By Kirsten Robbins
Most aggressive rider Jason McCartney (Discovery)
Photo ©: Trish Albert
After stage 5 of the Tour de Georgia, stage winner Tom Danielson described his Discovery Channel team-mate Jason McCartney , as "so incredible and he has no idea how strong he really is." Just before the stage, Cyclingnews caught up with McCartney to find out what makes this talented young rider tick.
Many people have come to respect the work of McCartney and often want to know what type of preparations he takes on during the pre season. "I am more of an old school type of a rider," said McCartney. "I don't do any testing in the wind tunnel on my time trail bike or special testing on any equipment. I also do not do any type of fitness testing for my heart rate or mental training either. I think I am just pretty old school."
McCartney often trains in cold temperatures and snowy days in his hometown of Iowa City, Iowa. "For me if we have a lot of snow in the winter at home there is a great ski area we have," McCartney said. His off-season training combined the two. "I put a ski rack on my bike ride out to ski and then ride home. So I just go out and ride a lot of long hours and really long rides."
When he is not living in his home city he is based in Gerona, Spain with Team Discovery. "The training is a lot different than in Iowa. In Iowa there is a lot of wind and smaller hills. In Gerona it is great and a lot of mountains. But, I like both places and they are a good change from each other."
After having a taste of both U.S. and European life styles McCartney prefers to be at training at home. "Boy, you know it is always nice to be home. I know it would be nice to train at altitude and be in the mountains and stuff but, I really like my home and the area I am in and so it is just really nice to be there.
McCartney is at the start of a potentially stellar career as a professional cyclist. However, cycling is not the only thing on McCartney's mind for his future. "I think a little bit about what type of a career I might have when I am finished racing my bike," added McCartney. "I've done some cooking and I enjoy that. Cycling is a great sport because it opens you up to different sponsors, different avenues in life. There are so many things out there that I haven't really pinned down any one specific thing yet but, I do think about it and I have a lot of ideas."
(All rights reserved/Copyright Knapp Communications Pty Limited 2006)