Tour de Georgia - 2.HC
USA, April 18-23, 2006
Results & report
Stage 4 - April 21: Dalton, GA - Dahlonega, GA, 191.4km
Commentary by Kristy Scrymgeour with additional reporting by Mark Zalewski
and Kirsten Robbins
Complete live report
Welcome back to Cyclingnews’ coverage of Tour de Georgia. Yesterday we saw
the big hitters battle in out in the race of truth, with Phonak’s Floyd Landis
taking the honours and winning the 39km event by four seconds over last years
overall winner Tom Danielson (Discovery). Rounding off the all-American podium
for third place was CSC’s David Zabriskie another 20 seconds down. Only one
other rider came within a minute of Landis and that was time trial specialist
Nathan O’Neill (Health Net Maxxis) but his time was 55 seconds down.
Today the Phonak team will be on guard protecting their leader in the first
mountain stage. We saw from last year that every second counts and that strength
in the time trial was very important but that anything can happen in the mountains.
We are set for a very exciting race.
Last year on this day, the weather
was a huge factor, with skies darkening and a huge thunderstorm moving in as
the riders crested the first mountain climb of the day, Ford Mountain. Already
this morning at about 7am we had some thunderstorms and the roads are still
wet, but its not actually raining right now. More rain is expected though so
we’ll see what the Cycling Gods have in store for us today.
witnessing huge crowds at the start line which is the home town of Saul Raisin.
Many of Saul’s fans are here to pay tribute to him and wish him a speedy recovery.
The riders all have green tape on their bars today as a tribute to Saul as well.
Our reporter Kirsten Robbins has talked to a few guys on the start line. Everyone
is wishing Saul a speedy recovery. In particular we talked to Robin Zellner
who is the director of Sierra Nevada on which Saul used to ride. “He is a great
guy with a great personality and we all wish him well and very speedy recovery.”
The race is just about to be underway.
They are doing a neutral lap of 3km in the downtown area of Dalton. They are
cruising along very slowly and will hit the 0km mark as they head out of town.
Its very overcast but still try.
The first sprint line is only 22km
into the race and just before the race hit Fort Mountain. Currently Freddy Rodriguez
is winning the sprint competition so we may see him going for some points here.
Freddy said yesterday, "I still have
the sprint jersey and it is now important for us to keep this jersey. It is
our main focus. I have tomorrow and Sunday to get a bigger lead on those points."
He also said, "I am the best climbing/sprinter here. I can get over the climbs
better than any sprinter here. So I may be the only real sprinter in the finish
tomorrow because I don't think the others can climb well enough. But, Brasstown
bald is completely out of my league."
The race has just hit the official
start. 191.4km of racing to go.
They're still going pretty slow though
because a few riders had a service in the neutral zone and are still getting
back into the bunch.
10:45 EDT 5.4km/186km to go
Kodak/Sierra Nevada starting setting the pace for the day but now we have a
Discovery rider up there. There has been an attack. 11 riders have a slight
gap on the field.
Davitamon Lotto probably won't let
this go anywhere as they'll be wanting to get some sprint points for Freddy.
The gap is now 20 seconds as we go over some winding rollers. Breaks can get
out of sight fairly easily on these roads. This is definitely a quicker start
to the race.
We are passing a pick-up truck with
some guys holding up a sign "Welcome to the mountains - Yeeha."
The gap is now out to 40 seconds.
In the break we have Ryan Blickem (Targetraining), Doug Ollerenshaw (Health
Net), Francisco Ventoso (Prodir), Egoi Martinez (Discovery), David Zabriskie
(CSC), Olivier Kaisen (Davitamon Lotto), Nick Reistad (Jelly Belly), Michael
Lange and Lucas Euser (TIAA CREF), Tyler Wren (Colavita Olive Oil), Michael
Dietrich (Kodak Sierra Nevada).
There is a lone chaser in the middle.
It is Matteo Tossato (Quick.Step)
Dave Zabriskie is in this break so
Phonak are not going to let this get anywhere.
The new time gap is 1'25". Tossatto
is still in no mans land.
11:02 EDT 18km/173.4km to go
We are 4km to the
sprint now. Tossato has been absorbed by the bunch which now sits 2'15" behind
Phonak sits on the front of the peloton
just setting tempo. There's no panic at this point. They will obviously not
want to let a break with Zabriskie get too much time but its early days yet.
We are at the sprint line now. Four
riders contested the sprint. Ventoso won from Dietrich and Nic Ingels (who is
in the break, not his teammate Kaisen).
11:10 EDT 25km/166.4km to go
We have just gone
over a small roller and we're starting the climb up Fort Mountain. This is about
15km in length. Its fairly steady and kicks up in a few areas but nothing really
hard. Its just long.
Zabriskie leads on the climb right
now. Setting a nice tempo. He looks very comfortable. Behind him is Reistad
from Jelly Belly. The team cars have been allowed to go up to the break.
Zabriskie has just rolled off the
front and is taking off his jacket. Must be getting warmer for them as they
start the climb.
Its all Phonak on the front of the
peloton right now. The gap has gone up a little to 3'20". Landis sits at the
back of his team and the entire Discovery squad is behind Landis.
very dark out here now. There is no sun whatsoever. Its starting to spit a little.
The field is at the 28km mark and
they've reeled the break in a little bit. Its not 2'20. Its starting the rain
more heavily now.
11:22 EDT 31km/160.4km to go
One rider is being
dropped from the break. Its Ryan Blickem (Targetraining).
The climb is fairly steep here and
the rain is quite steady. A few fans stand on the side of the road regardless.
They will be drenched at the end of this.
Woah, the rain is really picking up
now. Lets hope this doesn't get as bad as last year! Otherwise its really beautiful
through here. Winding foresty roads.
Those of you who have been following
this race for a few years will remember that this is the stage that Jason McCartney
went in that epic breakaway to win the stage. Last year he was also sent out
in breaks to a bit of a guinea pig and makes other riders chase. We caught up
to him before the stage and he thought he might have to do the same again.
Speaking of which, McCartney has just
He has been caught by the field but
he's relentless and is trying again and he has a ten second gap at this point.
11:30 EDT 33km/158.4km to go
The gap between
the break and the peloton is 2'10" right now with McCartney in the middle. A
few other riders are being dropped by the break.
McCartney has been caught again as
Phonak set tempo on the front.
11:31 EDT 33.3km/158.1km to go
The leaders are
now 5km from the KOM. There are reports of very heavy rain on the descent side
of the mountain. Its not an easy descent either.
11:33 EDT 33.7km/157.7km to go
Blickem is about
to be caught by the field now. The climb is still steady and smooth. A few flat
sections at times but mainly steadily up.
A Quick.Step rider has attacked the
field. On the side of the road, Santa Klaus is running around with an American
flag. There's a whole school bus up here to watching the race go by. The school
kids are watching too I imagine.
11:41 EDT 37.3km/154.1km to go
The gap is down
to 1'20" now as the break reaches 1km to the top of the KOM. Jason McCartney
(Discovery) has attacked the field again taking Remmert Wielinga (Quick.Step)
with him. They have a small gap on the field.
As we reach the KOM the chase group
of two riders are one minute behind the break with the field another ten seconds
Lucas Euser (TIAA CREF) went over
the KOM first earning himself a $1500 prime donated by a local business. He
was followed by Doug Ollerenshaw and Tyler Wren.
11:51 EDT 46km/145.4km to go
They are on the
descent now. Its pouring and there's a lot of fog. The break still has a minute
on the field.
One reader has just written in about
Woody Gap with an interesting story. He says, "The biggest crowds (apart from
the Start and Finish) have always been on Woody Gap because you had the chance
to watch the riders come by twice. Crowds have lined the climb all the way from
the bottom to the top. Last year, just as the weather was clearing after the
hail storm, a bolt of lightning hit near the road at the bottom of the climb
sending quite a charge up the guard rail all the way to the top. I don’t thing
anyone was injured, but it was quite a spectacle seeing all the spectators sitting
on the guard rail get zapped in the rear-end and knocked off the rail."
This year, because that loop was taken out, riders only go over Woody Gap once.
11:58 EDT 51 km/140.4km to go
The break is just
coming off the descent now. McCartney and Wielinga have caught the break making
it a group of ten now and they have 1'40" on the peloton.
12:01 EDT 53.5km/137.9km to go
The next Maxxis
Sprint of the day is in the town of Ellijay in about 10km time. The leaders
have increased their gap to 2'15". It looks like they're all taking pretty even
turns along this flat to undulating section at the bottom of the descent.
12:10 EDT 57km/134.4km to go
The break is working
well together and have increased their lead to 2'45". Phonak is still just setting
tempo on the front. Discovery have sent McCartney up there so that Danielson
and Popovych can just sit and the the rest of the Discovery team don't have
to be too worried about chasing. This puts full responsibility on the Phonak
team to do the work to chase things down.
For CSC, having Zabriskie up
there makes it vital for Phonak to chase but the rest of the riders in the break
probably wouldn't like to too much because their chances of this break working
is lessened. So its likely that if any of those riders in the break want this
to work, they'll have to get away from the break without Zabriskie. Not an easy
12:11 EDT 60.4km/131km to go
We are 2km to the
sprint now. Its all downhill into Ellijay. Once they get into town they have
a few turns and a round-a-bout before the line.
The latest time split is 2'50".
A nice crowd lines the road in Ellijay to watch the sprint.
Lots of cheering going on as the break
goes past. Ventoso won the sprint followed by Reistad and Wren, so Ventoso must
be moving up in the sprint classification now.
From here its rolling terrain, but
gradually up to the feed zone which is appropriately sponsored by Subway. Not
that any of the guys will be eating a sub at this point. Nice gooey stuff would
more likely be the case.
12:21 EDT 67.5km/123.9km to go
The gap is up
to 2'50". Phonak doesn't seem too worried yet. They do have about 90km until
the major climb of the day, which is Wolfpen Gap. In between there is a cat
4 climb up Hicks Gap, but they'll be aiming to bring this back just in time
Reistad and Wielinga have attacked the break on a small
rise and have a small gap now.
They've been caught again now though.
The break has gone back to rolling along nicely. 3'25" is the latest gap.
The guys in the break are out of the
saddle on a small rise. McCartney's on the front at this point. They are not
as organised as they were before, but they are climbing.
The terrain around here is really
quite pretty. Lots of winding wooded roads. Perfect training grounds for anyone
living in the area. No shortage of climbs to train on.
Off the back of the field is a group
of 13 riders who were dropped on the climb including Danny Pate (TIAA CREF).
They have a long way to go and will
be thinking now of trying to keep it rolling through so that they can make the
time cut at the end of the day.
Phonak continue to set tempo on the
front of the peloton. The gap is 2'55". McCartney has attacked again up in the
break. He has taken Ventoso with him and Euser. They have a small gap right
12:46 EDT 83km/108.4km to go
McCartney is again
being persistent. He's in good company if this break succeeds. Ventoso is a
good rider to be with. He has won Philly before.
We are at 4km to the feed zone. McCartney
is doing all the work so far and the other two are sitting on at this point.
They are going over some rollers here and have about 20 seconds now on the rest
of the break.
Meanwhile at Woody Gap, our reporter
Kirsten Robbins reports big crowds as usual. She says there are lots of tour
groups here riding the course and watching the race go by as has become a very
popular past-time at the Tour de France and the Giro etc.
12:54 EDT 88km/103.4km to go
The McCartney group
is making time and now have 1'10" on the rest of the break. They are all pulling
through evenly now after McCartney did the work to initiate thing. The field
is back at 3'40" with Phonak manning the front making sure it doesn't get out
At the back of the race Francesco
Chicchi of Quick.Step and Kyle Wamsley (Colavita Sutter Homes) have abandoned
We are approaching Fannin County now.
Home of Georgia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Its very scenic around here.
13:01 EDT 90.9km/100.5km to go
also attacked the break and is currently between the three leaders and the rest
of the break. The leading riders have 4'35" on the field. Ventoso has fallen
off McCartney's pace.
McCartney is on a mission here. He
does have good memories of this course and seems to be on fire here every year.
Jason McCartney put in a good ride
yesterday too finishing 6th in the time trial 1'38" down, so he's essentially
the leader on the road right now. Ventoso is back with the break so the lead
group is three again. Ollerenshaw is still in the middle 1'35" behind.
Ollerenshaw has decided to sit up
and will get caught by the rest of the break. The gap to the main field from
the front guys is now 4'45".
13:19 EDT 103km/88.4km to go
Just over 100km
into the race now which gives us about 50km until we hit the top of Wolfpen
Gap. Between now and then though its really not easy terrain. Its all undulating
with a few nasty little peaks. Before Hicks Gap there is another little peak
that is not categorised but looks about the same as Hicks Gap.
We have fan mail for Lucas Euser.
"The gang from Napa Valley, Lucas Euser’s home turf, would like to wish him
well. Go Lucas Potter!”
Lucas had a pretty good year last year. He finished
Tour de L’Avenir which is a tough U23 race in Europe. He got best young rider
at Tour of Connecticut and some good results in the San Dimas stage race but
this is a big day for him.
13:24 EDT 108km/83.4km to go
The lead group of
three now have 3'20" on the rest of the break and 4'00" on the field right now.
So the main break is being reeled in by Phonak. Meanwhile McCartney powers away
- as he does.
McCartney and Ventoso are doing the
majority of the work now. Euser is pulling through but not as often and for
not as long. This is quite sensible considering the company he keeps. Its a
great experience for him.
Alden Tanaka is the Director of Western
Collegiate Cycling Conference has written in about Lucas. He says, "Lucas Euser
was one of our strongest collegiate riders last year here in the Western Collegiate
Cycling Conference. He participated in the U23 program last summer, and it seems
to have really helped him grow in leaps and bounds. I spoke with him the evening
after stage 1, and he said that he's feeling pretty good, and was looking forward
to the latter, hillier stages of the TdG. He's a great guy with a good head
on his shoulders, and a strong rider. He's going to go places - I'm absolutely
certain of it."
13:34 EDT 114km/77.4km to go
The leading trio
is going over that small pinch on the profile that says Union County. They're
out of the saddle keeping their rhythm. McCartney and Ventoso leading the way.
Our reporter Mark Zalewski just spoke with TIAA CREF Jonathan Vaughters who
has been up following the break for quite a while now. He says Euser is feeling
good. He's doing some turns and looks quite comfortable.
One spectator has just written in
from Woody Gap. He's been reading whats happening on the Cyclingnews wap service.
http://live9.cyclingnews.com/wap/ for all of you out there who might need to
leave your computers for a while. He says "we have grill, iTunes, big PA, race
radio on scanner, the whole works – wish ya’ll were here – crowds atop Woody
Gap about 500 people, but growing." Thanks Todd.
Lots of fan mail rolling in for Euser,
McCartney and Tyler Wren. These guys are popular out there.
13:41 EDT 119km/72.4km to go
We are 5km to the
next KOM at Hicks Gap. The group of nine has just been caught by the peloton
and its just the lead trio still out there but maintaining good time.
The lead trio have about 3'30" right
now. Phonak is gradually trying to bring this back without panicking. If they
can they'll try and time it so that they catch the break on Wolfpen or even
Woody Gap. We'll see what McCartney has to say about that. He knows he's just
a pawn out there but he's doing a great job of it and he's succeeded here before.
13:49 EDT 124km/67.4km to go
500m to the KOM.
Its not really a hard climb until this last kilometer when it gets steep. They
are all pulling through on the climb, working well together. They're gap is
3'32" to the peloton.
At the finish the crowds are the biggest
we've seen yet this year. There's two expo areas here instead of one and there's
a huge screen 100m to go before the finish for the crowd to watch whats going
on out on the course.
Euser went over the KOM first followed
by McCartney and Ventoso. Back in the field Robbie Hunter was on the front of
the peloton as the Phonak team steadily set pace. They have now descended the
cat 4 climb of Hicks Gap and have less than 20km to go before they start climbing
Wolfpen. The gap between the break and the peloton is still 3'30".
Phonak still has all hands on deck
at the front of the peloton. The chase is smooth and without panic. Very reminiscent
of last year.
14:15 EDT 144 km/47.4km to go
We are at the base
of the climb now. The gap is holding and has even grown a little to 3'40". The
guys in the break are looking good. This will be where all the action starts
here. We'll be waiting for attacks from CSC too on this climb I imagine.
Jason McCartney has attacked and has
a gap of 50m. Its very twisty and turny now and he can easily get away here
because he can get out of sight. He looks back to see if anyone's following.
Announcer Dave Towle is taking bets
at the finish that McCartney will win.
McCartney looks very smooth. He
keeps looking back but he is out of sight. He must have 30 seconds on Ventoso
and Euser now.
The official gap is 15 seconds on
the other two now. He's 5km from the top of Wolfpen Gap. This climb is very
twisty and turny and steep in parts. The pavement is nice and smooth.
Meanwhile Phonak is on the front of the peloton. They are still pretty relaxed
and not pushing too hard but just keeping it steady.
In the field Floyd is tucked in, last
man of the Phonak team. Health Net is just behind him.
is seated on this climb now and has a good rhythm. The support cars have moved
in behind him.
At the finish a BMX competition is
going on and the crowd is growing.
McCartney is on a steeper section
now. He's out of the saddle. He has the grimace on his face but he looks smooth.
There's a lot of switchbacks, not real tight switchbacks but very twisty.
He has 1'20" on Euser and Ventoso
and 2'00" on the peloton.
Jason is on a little bit of a plateau
of this climb. Its a great atmosphere up here. Painted names all over the road
and the fans are pretty thick near the top. He has about 2km to the top. Its
and incredible course. The roads are narrow, country, wooded roads and a great
mixture of terrain.
Phonak is really stringing it out
now. They are putting on the pace and have the guys rolling through consistently.
14:38 EDT 153km/38.4km to go
Its about 66 degrees
at the top here. It turned out to be a pleasant day for a race. Ventoso and
Euser have been caught by the field. Its just McCartney on his own and his gap
Tim Johnson and Nathan O'Neill (Health
Net) are tucked in behind Floyd and his team as they drive the pace up this
McCartney has gone over the top of
Wolfpen and is descending. Its a very fast descent. He's pedalling as fast as
he can. You don't really need to break on these corners. He on his bars as if
he's time trialling and he's flying.
The peloton is going over the top
now. Phonak has split this up. The main group is a lot smaller now, probably
30 guys left. The groups will probably come back together on the descent. They're
all in tuck position going down this descent.
McCartney is in time trial position.
He's got that ever present grimace but it doesn't show in his style. He still
Euser managed to hang on to his lead until the top of the
KOM and took second place just before the bunch swallowed him up. Three Phonak
riders took 3rd through 5th place.
Phonak is bringing this gap down and
have it at 1'15" now as they head to Woody Gap.
Lance Armstrong is poking his head
out of the car talking to Jason McCartney. Back in the field Danielson is sitting
in comfortably. This is perfect for him as he can just watch Phonak so all the
Jason is taking a feed from the car. He's still powering away to
make Phonak chase hard. Jason is now on the final climb up Woody Gap.
14:54 EDT 164km/27.4km to go
The gap has gone
up again to 1'35". McCartney is not quite on the climb. He was just on a roller
before. He now has 5km to the top of Woody Gap. He's labouring right now. He
looks like he's pushing a big gear and he's feeling it more now.
McCartney is starting the climb proper
now. The gap has fallen to 1'05". He has 25km to the finish.
15:00 EDT 167km/24.4km to go
Saunier Duval is
on the front of the chase group now helping with the chase.
is still in the big ring on this climb. He gets out of the saddle. He's is and
out of the saddle which means he's getting tired. As he would be after this
Landis, Zabriskie and O'Neill are
all gathered together behind the Saunier Duval guy who is still in the lead
with the Phonak train behind him. The Discovery train is right in behind Floyd
The gap is falling. Its 45 seconds
McCartney is over the KOM and on the
descent. He only has 20 seconds now.
15:07 EDT 172km/19.4km to go
Its all downhill
to the finish now. Its a long straight road but 20km.
McCartney is descending fast. He looks
good but its going to be hard for him to keep this up with a chasing bunch on
this long downhill.
Back in the field quite a few riders got shelled on
that last climb but as on the previous one, many will be able to get back on
on the descent.
15 seconds now!
If this comes down to a sprint Freddy
Rodriguez backed himself in for the win today saying that he was the best climber
out of the sprinters. We'll have to see who's left in that bunch.
We can see Hunter still in the bunch
so he could be one for the sprint although he's probably done a lot of work
The gap is down to ten seconds. Hard
to be caught after this much effort but he's done a great job for Discovery
today. Lets see if we get some counters from other teams now.
McCartney has been caught. Kudos to
another great ride on this course.
15:17 EDT 178km/13.4km to go
McCartney has attacked
again! This guy is crazy. He has a Quick Step rider with him who is driving
The Quick Step rider is Leonardo Scarselli.
Davitamon Lotto is chasing. They have a 15 second gap.
CSC is moving up with Phonak to chase.
They are less than 10km to the finish now.
Leonardo Scarselli is doing all the
pulling here and is driving it. McCartney pulls through occasionally but must
15:21 EDT 185km/6.4km to go
The gap is ten seconds
now. About 6km to the finish.
Its a long straight road with nowhere
to hide to Davitamon can see their prey! Phonak is up there too.
5km to go! What an amazing ride by
McCartney. This course has to be named after him one day. Or maybe thats going
a bit far but...
Another rider is attacking from the
4km to go. They have a 100m gap but
look like they're going to get court. The finish is different this year. McCartney
has sat up and getting caught. Looks to be about 40 riders left in the field.
Discovery is on the front now leading
for these final kilometers of the race.
Only 1.5km to go. Its all together!
The group is
spread across the road. Its a 40 rider bunch sprint.
An attack. They are taking the final
corner. Its Freddy Rodriguez! He takes the win.
Matteo Tossato is second and Popovych
is third. Freddy pulled it off!
Landis finished safely in the field
and will keep the jersey going into stage 5.
Thanks for tuning in to our live coverage.
See you back tomorrow.
1 Freddy Rodriguez (Davitamon Lotto)
2 Matteo Tossato (Quick Step)
3 Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery)
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