Tour de Georgia - 2.HC
USA, April 18-23, 2006
Results & report
Stage 2 - April 19: Fayetteville, GA - Rome, GA, 186.9km
Commentary by Kristy Scrymgeour with additional reporting from Mark Zalewski
and Kirsten Robbins
Complete live report
Today the Tour de Georgia field tackles a relatively-flat stage with rolling
hills (See stage map
& profile), but the entry into the city of Rome could cause a split
in the field, with three circuits involving a climb up the short but steep Clock
year, Andrea Tafi put in a brave solo attack in his final US race, but was
caught entering the circuits by a fast charging peloton, led by the entire Discovery
Channel team, with Lance Armstrong in tow.
When in Rome ... LA takes a sprint in
Photo ©: Bob Badalucco
In fact, Armstrong was the surprise winner of the stage into Rome in the 2004
3), something he described as a "almost a freak experience" (not
winning a race, but beating the sprinters at their own game).
Tafi was swallowed by the Discovery train, and in turn, the paler-shade-of-blue-train
- Gerolsteiner - set up their sprinter, Peter Wrolich, who stole the show and
took the win.
The finish is likely to be a bunch kick of 'sprinters-who-can-climb', or an
opportunist rider with the explosive power to tackle the climb may be able to
hold off what will be a hard-charging bunch, assuming the somewhat-inevitable
breakaway group is caught.
Make sure you follow all the action, live on Cyclingnews,
from 13:30 local time (EDT), 10:30 PDT (USA West) 19:30 CEST (Europe), 03:30
AEST (Australia East).
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Welcome back to Cyclingnews’ Live
Coverage of the Tour de Georgia. Stage 2 starts in the Fayetteville, Georgia
and travels northwest to the town of Rome through Peachtree City and Rockmart.
Known as a sprinters stage, the course travels along flat and undulating terrain
for 173km before hitting the famous Clocktower Hill for the first time. The
three finishing circuits that follow are particularly difficult, taking in the
steep Clocktower Hill each lap. Riders who have raced Tour de Georgia before
know the circuit well as it is identical to the previous two year. Positioning
is vital for the finish and a large gear for the downhill sprint can also come
in handy as Armstrong noted in 2005.
Yesterday we saw Danish rider
Lars Michaelsen (CSC) take the sprint on yet another tricky finishing circuit.
He now wears the yellow leader’s jersey and leads by four seconds over Freddy
Rodriguez (Davitamon Lotto). Michaelsen was excited about his win stating that
"It's very rewarding to get confirmation you are still able to compete with
the young guys. I used to be a good sprinter in my young days, and every once
in a while I pull one out of my hat."
Rodriguez suffered some bad
luck in the final stages of yesterday’s race with two wheel changes but still
managed to get back up there to take second place. Freddy has won before in
Rome, taking the bunch sprint in stage 3 of the 2003 event. He’ll be trying
to repeat that performance today and perhaps take the jersey from Michaelsen.
At the start line, with five minutes to the start, things didn’t look so good
weatherwise. A few drops of rain are starting to fall and its been hailing in
Rome at the finish line. Severe thunderstorm warnings have been relayed in weather
reports. The riders don’t seem too worried about it but they’re definitely starting
with their rain jackets handy.
The race is now underway. We don't
have any neutral laps today. Instead we simply head straight out on the road
to Rome. One of many! Drops of raing were just starting to fall as they head
towards a thunderstorm. Lets just hope its over by the time the race reaches
Already riders are having nature breaks
at the back of the peloton. That was bad planning. The bunch cruises along at
32km/h (20m/h) to let the guys do their thing.
Yesterday it was the legendary James
Brown that turned up to welcome the riders to Georgia. Today it’s Lance Armstrong.
However he is keeping a low profile so far. With the crowds so far seeming a
little thinner than they have in the past, most likely due to the Lance’s retirement,
it could be a good thing that he has turned up today to lend support to the
race that he helped put on the map.
Cyclingnews reporter Kirsten Robbins
caught up with Lance at the start line who says he's here in support of the
Discovery Team. He was also at the Tour of California and there's a chance that
he will go with them to the Giro this year as well.
13:45 EDT 9.6km/177.3km to go
The weather is
clearing a little now and it looks like it will be dry. At least for the first
hour or so of racing. Coming up in about 14km is the first Maxxis sprint of
the day in Peachtree City. The sprint carries points as well as time bonus seconds.
The race is taking a right turn onto
Peachtree Parkway. The terrain is rolling and the road is pretty wide open.
We are going past lots of gated communities. You may remember from last year
that this is quite a strange town in that most of the inhabitants use golf carts
to get around. Special paths have been built for these things to get around.
It is quite a strange sight.
13:51 EDT 14.2km/172.7km to go
As we turn right
onto Robinson Rd, we go past Braelinn Elementary School. The kids are out watching
the race go by and there's golf carts everywhere. The peloton is still just
cruising along just under 20m/h. Its pretty flat, slightly rolling with good
We also caught up with Tom Danielson
before the start who is very happy that Lance is here. "He is here mentoring
the team," explained Danielson. "He'll be staying through Brasstown Bald and
will be supporting the team tactically." Much the same as he did last year with
Danielson, however this year from the car.
Alejandro Acton (Targetraining) has
attacked. He has 25 seconds on the field. Acton was very active in yesterdays
stage too, so for Targetraining's first year here, they are certainly giving
it a good go.
5km to the sprint now and Acton has
increased his lead to 50 seconds.
14:03 EDT 21.9km/165km to go
We are now in more
of a wooded area. Its a little hillier and we are going downhill past a lake
after which is starts going up a little again. Acton has 3km to reach the sprint
and he has increased his lead to 1'25".
Its beautiful here. Quite a few lakes
line the road. Viktor Rapinski (Colavita) has attacked the field and is trying
to bridge to Acton. He has 15 seconds on the peloton.
14:07 EDT 24km/162.9km to go
Rapinski is now
back in the field. The sprint is in front of another elementary school. All
the kids are out the front with their flags. Screaming at the top of their lungs.
Acton is reaching the sprint now. He looks nice and steady.
Danielson was off the back at the
team car before. It looked like he had a problem with his radio. He's back in
the field now.
14:10 EDT 25km/161.9km to go
Its very windy through
here now and it looks like Acton's time gap is dropping. Back in the bunch Freddy
won the bunch sprint. He gets a 2 second time bonus for that bringing him that
little bit closer to Michaelsen in the overall.
Mark Zalewski caught up with race
leader Lars Michaelsen before the start. He said that his team won't be defending
the jersey today. "The only way I will keep the jersey is if I win the stage
again today," he said. "We will go for the stage win and see how it goes."
Acton's gap is increasing. The latest
time check was 1'40". He'll be hoping for a few riders to bridge to him pretty
soon if he's to stay out there.
Acton is in the drops working hard.
He looks nice and relaxed and his gap is increasing. No reaction from the field.
They're not chasing at all and are spread across the road. We are in the city
of Tyrone, which is where the organisers of this race are based.
14:23 EDT 35km/151.9km to go
A few Phonak riders
are on the front just cruising along and chatting. We talked to Floyd Landis
this morning. He said he's just going to look after himself today, but the team
will also try and help Robbie Hunter win the stage. He wasn't worried about
racing in the bad weather at all and said he was feeling pretty good overall.
We also talked to Hunter who said
he just wasn't in the right position for yesterday's sprint. He was ahead of
the crash but he got cut off by Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel) and couldn't
get out. He's going to give it another shot as this is the last chance he can
go for a stage win. After the time trial tomorrow the effort will be all for
14:33 EDT 40km/146.9km to go
Acton now has 5'30"
on the field. The race just crossed interstate 85 on a small road. Its flat
here and its a little more open than before. The sun seems to be trying to shine
right now but its still overcast.
14:34 EDT 42km/144.9km to go
The riders will
tackle what is listed as a difficult railroad crossing up ahead. Last year a
freight train actually had to stop to let the race go past. In the field CSC
has a couple of riders on the field but they're not chasing. The gap is now
up over seven minutes with the field cruising at 25m/h.
And here is that freight train again.
Stopped the let the race go past. Shame they couldn't do that at Paris Roubaix
last week. It would have prevented a few upsets.
A couple of CSC guys are up at the
front of the peloton, but not really doing much. Targetraining pretty much have
the whole team up there manning the front and protecting the lead of Acton.
They just went up a small hill but it is flat again now. It will be undulating
like this all day. Last year it was Andrea Tafi who was agressive from the start.
He was determined to get a stage win but was caught in the finishing circuits
after a long day away.
One of yesterday's breakaway riders,
Aaron Olson also attacked last year in chase of Tafi and was solo for a long
One reader, Tim Smith just wrote in
to tell us to watch out. He's been tracking the weather on the radar and storms
are coming our way. If its the hail storms they experienced in Rome earlier
it won't be very pleasant, but thats bike racing.
14:54 EDT 54km/132.9km to go
Acton has now ridden
over 50km now and is still building his lead. We think the gap is ten minutes.
The officials have a slight problem now in that the relay plane that relays
the radio signals for race radio is grounded because of the weather. They are
using small handheld radio's but with the gap at ten minutes its quite a distance
between the break and the field making it more difficult to give regular time
Acton is on a small two lane road
and its pretty flat around here. He looks like he's in a nice comfortable rhythm.
He'll start hitting a few small climbs soon.
Another reader has written in to say
that we have some road works up ahead which might make things interested. They
are repaving Hwy 166 in the area that the race passes through. Just another
Whilst Acton is pedaling away up there
I'll go back to a few rider comments from before the stage. We caught up with
Freddy Rodriguez who said that his team is not interested in going in any breakaways
today but will save everything for the finish to help him win the sprint. He
said it will be hard for them to do a full team leadout because of the tricky
nature of the finishing circuits but he's confident that his team can do a better
leadout than any other team out there and he's confident that he will be able
to take the win today. He has won in Rome before, back in 2003 and if he repeats
today its very likely he'll take the leaders jersey from Michaelsen.
We talked to his teammate Henk Vogels
before yesterday's stage. He is happy to be back here as he had some success
here a few years ago. He said he's tired because he's done all of the early
season classics this year.
15:18 EDT 69km/117.9km to go
We are almost 70km
into the race and about to enter Carroll County. Its starting to sprinkle and
Acton's gap is falling slightly. It is 9'30" and we can actually see a bit of
lightning in the distance.
There has been a crash in the bunch.
A few riders down but we can't see who it is at this point but it was just a
few riders getting tangled up. The race organisers are more worried about the
hail and the lightning.
Its starting to fall a little heavier
now. Its looks serious enough that officials are looking for places where they
can shelter the riders if it gets really bad. Its very rare that a race will
be stopped due to weather but if the lightening is close it becomes dangerous.
The lightning is becoming more frequent
as we travel further north.
The good news is that the area around
Rome is clearing up so the finishing circuits will be a little safer when they
finally get there. Reports are of penny size hail pieces falling up ahead. Lucky
helmets are compulsary.
15:35 EDT 75km/111.9km to go
As for the current
breakaway rider, Alejandro Acton is an Argentine national and a former Argentina
Olympic team member. Last year was quite successful for him. He won the sprint
jersey at the Green Mountain Stage race and stage 3 which was the criterium.
At 33 years of age he has quite a bit of racing experience under his belt.
He is traveling at about 42km/h (26m/h)
right now as he nears the feed zone. Its pretty flat along here but its absolutely
pelting down. I guess his afternoon tea will get a bit soggy.
The sky is getting even darker now
so the worst is yet to come weatherwise.
But actually despite that, the rain
has just stopped for Acton and is getting lighter for the guys back in the bunch.
Maybe they'll be lucky and get through this safely.
Acton's gap fell to below nine minutes
but its up again to 9'10". It's raining again now. On and off. Our reporter
Kirsten Robbins is near the finish and she says it looks nice and dry.
15:52 EDT 88km/98.9km to go
Another rider we
talked to this morning was Nathan O'Neill (Health Net). He has a pretty succesful
start to the season winning the Commonwealth Games time trial in Melbourne last
month. He's happy to be here and the start today is actually only about an hour
from where he lives. He says he's going to try and go for the overall here.
Being a bit of a time trial specialist, he'll be going for a win there tomorrow.
He held his own on the climbs in the Tour of California earlier this year. He
says the climbs here are a little different. "A little more treacherous," but
he'll be giving it a go.
15:54 EDT 91km/95.9km to go
And the rain is not
letting up out there. It's quite hard at the moment. Acton's lead is 10'10"
now as he nears the half way mark in the race.
As you can see from his results, Acton's
main strength is in the sprint, so this long breakaway is probably not what
he expected for today. He would be quite upset that nobody went with him in
the attack. It would be a lot more pleasant to have someone to ride with in
16:02 EDT 95km/91.9km to go
Looking for a stage
win if this race comes down to a bunch sprint today will be the Toyota United
team. They suffered a little bad luck when Ivan Dominguez crashed on the second
last corner yesterday. We caught up with Dominguez and the other team sprinter
JJ Haedo before the start today. Dominguez explained that he rolled his tubular
on the corner. He was sweeping for Haedo and he took the corner wide but rolled
his tyre bring himself down along with Luciano André Pagliarini Mendonca from
Prodir Saunier Duval.
He added that he would be working for Haedo
again today, unless Haedo wasn't feeling good and then they'd swap roles.
Haedo said he heard the crash but
was lucky to be in front of it. On the last corner Robbie Hunter attacked and
got a gap so Haedo tried to bridge and then had nothing for the sprint.
Haedo also explained that he won the second Maxxis sprint on the road yesterday
but that he wasn't going for the sprint jersey. He was actually thinking that
he might win the stage yesterday and wanted to grab the time bonus seconds to
ensure he took the yellow jersey. He's looking to win today's stage with Ivan
helping him. He knows that positioning is very important and they'll both have
to stay up there in the top ten in the last lap. He said he feels good and he
thinks he can win.
16:06 EDT 100km/86.9km to go
Its still raining
out there but again its starting to lighten off a bit. Acton holds his gap steady
for now. He's about six kilometers ahead of the field.
The gap is still 10'30" and Acton
has really been out there a long time now. The bunch seems to be just content
to take it easy today and wait for the finish. Tomorrow is the time trial which
will be a pretty big day for the GC riders and stage 5 and 6 are mountain days
which will be tough days.
In the bunch Lotto and Quick.Step
have riders on the front but they're still just chatting and cruising, content
to let this go for a while longer.
16:27 EDT 108km/78.9km to go
The clouds are lifting
now and it looks like things will be clear from here on in. The gap is holding
and Acton has just under 80km to ride. Quite a long time trial.
For those of you out there wanting
to know who Targetraining is exactly. The team is new for this year and is run
by Tom Schuler and Team Sports who used to run the Saturn team. As the name
would suggest the team is sponsored by a coaching company probably most famous
for one of the coaches Rick Crawford who has coached many a great cyclist in
the Durango area, including Tom Danielson, Levi Leipheimer and Chris wherry.
16:34 EDT 115km/71.9km to go
Todays stage is
actually running quite a bit behind schedule. The average speed for the peloton
is only 22m/h (35km/h). The gap is 9'55" and no chase to be seen yet.
Wow, a bit of action. A group of six
riders have attacked and have a small gap on the field. The peloton has reacted
though and the riders have been caught. Its just Acton out there solo with a
gap of 10'20".
The boys from Jittery Joe's Zero Gravity
have hit the front of the peloton now and have starting setting tempo.
The rest of the Targetraining guys
are still sitting up near the front keeping an eye on things. This is a big
day for them to get their name out there amongst the big teams. Even if this
does get caught as it is very likely to do with Euro teams very skilled at bringing
these breaks back just in time, its still a great day for the team.
16:47 EDT 123km/63.9km to go
In 15km Acton will
come across the second Maxxis sprint line of the day giving himself another
few points and a few time bonus seconds. The road is a little rough right now,
but it has been nice and smooth all day.
Things are picking up in the bunch
now. It's even strung out for the first time today.
17:00 EDT 132km/54.9km to go
Acton is a chance
of taking the sprint jersey at the end of today depending on what happens on
the finish line. But that would be a nice reward for spending all day out there.
Right now he's about 6km from the sprint and the field is about five kilometers
behind him. Behind Davitamon Lotto have put some riders on the front and the
speed is picking up. They are going 28m/h (45km/h) now so poor old Acton's gap
will start to fall pretty soon. It's still pretty flat out here.
Phonak has also put a few riders up
there to help being this back for Hunter. They've got 50km to bring back 10
The sprint line is in the town of
Rockmart, home of the Silver Comet Trail built on the old train line. The trail
is named after the shiny silver train that used to carry passengers from New
York to Birmingham from 1947 until 1969.
17:10 EDT 140km/46.9km to go
Acton has gone through
the sprint line giving him 18 points. The bunch is now coming to the sprint
farily soon. The gap is down to 9'15" now and Davitamon and Lotto are still
on the front of the bunch setting a steady tempo.
The weather is overcast with clear
skies up ahead. The roads are dry on this four lane road. Right now there is
one Davitamon Lotto rider on the front followed by five Phonak riders. We are
in Rockmart for the sprint now. We can see a Dairy Queen and some people sitting
outside a Dollarmart.
17:14 EDT 142km/44.9km to go
The bunch has turned
onto Elm street. Its a two lane road and they will go over a railroad crossing
before opening up to another four lane road. We can see a few cycling fans here
at the 200m sign to the sprint. The field is moving now and we have some riders
contesting this sprint.
Four riders are contesting it and
it looks like a Toyota United rider took the sprint points and 2secs time bonus.
At the sprint line the time gap is 9'15" to Acton.
It was actually Lars Michaelsen who
took second place. That is a bit of an attempt to keep the jersey after today's
stage. He'll be going for the stage win and every second counts.
Michaelsen's teammate Brian Vandborg
took third place in the sprint to prevent anybody else from getting them.
Right now Acton and Michaelsen are
on equal sprint points so it will come down to the finish as to who takes home
the Maxxis sprint jersey.
One rider we should talk about is
the best young rider from yesterday, Peter Mazur (Prodir-Saunier Duval). We
actually caught up with him before yesterday's stage and he mentioned that he
was going to try to go for the young riders jersey. Mazur is Canadian Polish
and grew up racing in Canada. A few years ago he left to go and race in Poland
and has been living there. He is back here in North America and excited to be
riding here again. His speciality is the time trial and he mentioned that might
even try to get a top ten overall in tomorrow's stage. Interestingly enough,
his father has been known to do a bit of coaching and he did coach Michael Barry
at one time and a host of other Canadian riders.
17:26 EDT 148km/38.9km to go
Health Net is up
near the front now too. With less than 20km to the finishing circuits, it looks
like this last part of the race is going to be fast after a long slow lead up.
The gap has fallen to 7'35" now with
Phonak, Davitamon Lotto and Health Net all represented at the front of the chasing
Now the gap is really falling. 6'08
now. Acton will just be listening to the gap fall as he would very much have
expected to happen, but its still not a nice feeling.
17:32 EDT 152km/34.9km to go
He has about 15km
until they hit the town of Rome and less than 10km later the circuits start.
The circuits are 4.1km long and the
riders will enter the circuits, go over the Clocktower hill once and when reaching
the finish line for the first time they'll see three laps to go.
17:36 EDT 156km/30.9km to go
There's a few bumps
in the road here and the Davitamon Lotto riders are out of the saddle as they
go over one of the rises. The road is long and straight and they can even see
the action around the solo rider way up in the distance. The gap is just under
Last year Peter Wrolich (Gerolsteiner)
won this stage in a bunch sprint from Manuel Quinziato (Prodir) and Lance Armstrong
(Discovery). Lance commented after the stage that it came in very handy to have
a 54 chain ring for the downhill finish. He didn't have that the year before
when he actually won the stage but it does come in handy.
The gap is down to 4'20" now and falling...
The trickiest part of the finishing
circuits though is the steep climb up Clocktower hill each lap. It reaches 19%
in gradient at one point and is fairly narrow so positioning on the climb is
very vital. When you reach the top for the last time its very fast to the finish.
After last years stage Robbie Hunter
told of where he went wrong. "On the last climb I was right in front, and there
were two guys who sat up -- and it's such a small straight climb that you can
lose like fifteen positions," explained the South African sprinter. "It was
pretty fast and position is everything. But the problem is I don't think everyone
in the group has got the legs to give it gas off after 200km, so you get guys
sitting up and just getting in the way on a circuit like this."
17:44 EDT 161km/25.9km to go
The gap is just
over three minutes and dropping rapidly now. In a few kilometers Acton will
enter the town of Rome and head for the finishing circuits.
17:46 EDT 163km/23.9km to go
We are still on
this really really long straight road. Its rolling terrain. Up and down, up
and down which is really taking a lot out of Acton. The latest time gap is 2'30".
The bunch has 25km to the finish now.
It is a very cool finishing circuit.
After winning last year, Wrolich said "You can compare [the course] to all the
hills in the Netherlands. A lap like that is real racing, it was something for
the crowd....They can see the race for a half an hour....And that should also
be the way it is Europe... I liked it."
17:50 EDT 165km/21.9km to go
Acton has 2'20"
which is a 1 mile gap to the bunch as they hit the city limits of Rome, Georgia.
17:52 EDT 167km/19.9km to go
TIAA CREF and Phonak
have riders on the front now. Acton can see 20km to go now. We have a nice descent
down into town now.
17:53 EDT 168km/18.9km to go
1'45" is the gap.
The field now sees 20km to go.
Jason McCartney just got a service
at the back of the bunch. We are at 5km to the KOM now which is on top of Clocktower
hill the first time they hit it. Acton looks back over his shoulder. He is still
giving it everything. He has 1'15".
We have a twisty descent now as we
come more into the downtown area.
Acton is still out there, but only
has 5 seconds now. What a day for him!
He attacked only 15km into this stage
and has been out there all alone. His race now is to the top of the KOM. If
he makes it he will take the KOM jersey into stage 3. Actually it was 50 seconds
before, now its 42.
Now its down to five seconds! Can
he make it to the top of the hill? No he can't. He has just been caught.
The bunch is all together. A Health
Net rider has countered. It is Kirk O'Bee. He got over the KOM first followed
by a Colavita rider, another Targetraining guy and then the rest of the field.
They are coming down the downhill towards the finish line.
18:03 EDT 174km/12.9km to go
The small group
of three with Kirk O'Bee just got caught as they went through the finish line
as they head out for the first of three laps.
Phonak had their riders on the front
as they came through the finish line. They are going to try to keep this under
control for Hunter and make sure he doesn't get stuck behind riders this year.
McCartney has actually only just made
it back into the peloton after his mechanical. They are heading towards Clocktower
Hill for the second time.
They're on the climb now making the
lefthand turn. Four Phonak riders are setting pace. Its single file. A Quick.Step
rider is also up there and Michaelsen has just made his way into fourth place
as they come through the finish line with two laps to go.
18:09 EDT 182km/4.9km to go
A few riders are
getting spat out the back of the field. Its fast now. Only 8km to go. They're
going 51km and hour. They take a right hand turn. Acton has just come through
the finish line. After he was caught he was dropped and will just cruise into
Heading the hill for the third time
now. When they descend to the finish they'll see 1 lap to go.
They are on the Clocktower Hill now
nearly reaching the top. It's still all together with Phonak setting the pace.
Hunter is in good position.
18:12 EDT 186km/0.9km to go
Matty Rice has attacked
and has a 100m gap. He is coming down onto the finishing straight. The field
is completely strung out. He is seeing 1 lap to go now.
Quick.Step, Navigators, Health Net
all have a rider up there helping to chase. He has five seconds on the field.
Toyota United moves to the front to chase this down. He has 75m now.
The gap is down to 20m and he is caught
by Toyota United and they stay on the front to set the pace for Haedo. Its strung
out as they head to the Clocktower Hill for the last time.
They are turning onto the street off
the climb now. Discovery has three riders on the front now heading up the hill.
Positioning is everything now. Its so fast to the finish from the top here.
They're on the climb now. They're
flying. The first riders are reaching the top. They start the descent. 1km to
They have reached the final turn.
A Discovery rider is off the front. He has a huge gap. It is Popovych and he's
going to get this! Followed by Toyota and Gord Fraser.
Popovych takes the win! Looks like
it was Haedo who took second place followed by Fraser. Stand by for the official
It was Haedo in second. The Discovery
guys had it figured though, getting that gap coming off the hill.
It actually looks like they've given
third to Freddy Rodriguez.
Thanks for tuning in to stage three. We'll be
back tomorrow for the Time Trial which will be the first big decider for the
1 Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel)
2 Juan Jose Haedo (Toyota United)
3 Fred Rodriguez (Davitamon Lotto)
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