Tour de Georgia - 2.HC
USA, April 18-23, 2006
Results & report
Stage 5 - April 22: Blairsville, GA - Brasstown Bald Mountain, GA, 152.1km
Commentary by Kristy Scrymgeour with additional reporting by Mark Zalewski
and Kirsten Robbins
Complete live report
Welcome to Cyclingnews’ live coverage of the penultimate stage of the Tour
de Georgia. Today is the big one and by the looks of the skies above it could
be bigger than we’d imagined. It’s very dark up there and he if we don’t get
some very heavy rain I’d be very surprised.
Yesterday was the first
mountain stage but the climbs weren’t hard enough to split up the big guns and
they will all line up today in the same position on GC as they were at the finish
of the time trial. The Phonak team had to do quite a bit of time on the front
yesterday. In fact the green train led the peloton for the entire race with
Floyd Landis, wearing the yellow jersey, tucked in behind them. So they might
be feeling it a little more than some of the other riders out there today.
Dave Zabriskie (CSC) found himself in an early break yesterday but he was looking
good and it didn’t look like he fried himself for today. Tom Danielson with
his Discovery teammate Jason McCartney doing his job as team guinea pig was
allowed an easy ride yesterday and will be hoping to put in a performance similar
to what he did last year and break them on the climb. He has his teammate Yaroslav
Popovych right up there on GC with him, so they have a couple of hands to play.
Another GC contender, who currently sits less than a minute behind Floyd Landis
on GC, is Health Net rider Nathan O’Neill. He will be out there giving it a
go today as will Cesar Grajales of Navigators. We all saw what he did on this
course in 2004. During yesterday’s stage he said he was feeling really good.
“I felt like Phonak just keep attacking and increasing the pace, and I knew
I was working hard to stay but still it felt like no problem and I felt like
if I wanted to, I could attack them. I felt that good,” Grajales said.
Well its been pouring rain here at
the start. All of the riders have been staying in their team cars/buses until
the very last moment and scrambling around for their wet weather gear. It really
doesn't look like its going to stop for quite a while yet so the guys are in
for a wet day.
They only have a few minutes until
the start here in the town of Dalton. They roll out of here and hit the 0km
mark on the highway. No Neutral laps today.
A reader has written in thought to
give us to good news that it will clear up a bit later, so hopefully they'll
stay dry in the mountains.
After winning two mountain sprints
in the break yesterday younf Lucas Euser (Team TIAA-CREF) is wearing the mountain
jersey today. Quite an accomplishment for a young guy. He currently sits two
points ahead of Jason McCartney (Discovery).
The sprint classification well and
truly belongs to Fast Freddie Rodriguez, helped along by his stage win yesterday.
He is 15 points ahead of the next rider, Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery Channel).
Someone has kindly pointed out that
I am a bit confused about where I am. We are actually rolling out of Blairsville,
not Dalton! Sorry about that.
It turns out that we did do a little
bit of a neutral loop but we're out on the road now and have just hit the official
race start. Its still raining quite a bit and its about 60 degrees.
Leading the young riders classification
is Janez Brajkovic (Discovery Channel). He's also 9th in the overall classification.
We didn't speak to Tom Danielson before
the stage. He looked way to nervous to talk to anyone so we'll just let his
riding do the talking. Discovery has six riders in the top 15 in GC, so they
certainly have the numbers on the climbs to do some damage today and Danielson
will not be short of help. Like they said the other day, they don't care which
one of their riders wins so we'll see what they come up with today.
11:57 EDT 10km/142.1km to go
The first 80km of
the race today are fairly flat. We start in Blairsville and do a clockwise loop
of 50km ending up in Blairsville again for the first of two Maxxis sprint points.
We'll probably see Freddy go for that just to get a few more points up his sleeve.
We are 10km into the race. Freddy has been back at his team car with some kind
of issue but he's back in the field now. Floyd stopped for a bit of a nature
break but is also back in.
The road is very flat here. Smooth and
nice. Just very wet. However we still do have some very brave spectators standing
on the side of the road as the race goes by.
12:00 EDT 15km/137.1km to go
The speed has picked
up a little in the last few kilometers as a few riders try to attack but Phonak
is jumping on everything and nothing is getting away at this point.
We have a break of five riders now
including Jason McCartney and Lucas Euser from yesterday. A few riders are trying
Also in the group is Matteo Tossato
(Quick Step), Kasper Klostergaard Larsen (CSC) and Neil Shirley (Jittery Joe's).
The three chasing riders have been caught.
Aaron Olson is also in the group as
is Martin Pedersen. Neil Shirley (Jittery Joe's) didn't make it up there and
is back in the field. They have 23 seconds on the bunch.
A pretty brave attempt by both Jason
McCartney and Lucas Euser. Putting themselves in another situation that could
be a very tough day for them. If the break stays away Lucas could try to hold
on to that mountain jersey. McCartney is simply being the selfless teammate
The gap has increased to over a minute
I've just updated the riders in the
break. It is Sébastien Rosseler in there, not Tosatto, and Will Frishkorn is
also up there with his teammate Euser.
12:22 EDT 35km/117.1km to go
The riders in the
break are all working well together and taking even pulls. The peloton is not
really chasing at this point. Phonak is ever present on the front without panic.
We are down to 109 riders in the race
after yesterday. These riders didn't finish yesterdays stage: Lars Michaelsen
(Den) Team CSC, Martin Pedersen (CSC), Luciano André Pagliarini Mendonca (Prodir-Saunier
Duval), Francesco Chicchi (Quick Step-Innergetic), Daniel Greenfield (Targetraining),
Kyle Wamsley (Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home Wines), Jeffery Hopkins (Jittery
Joe's-Zero Gravity), Peter Lopinto (KodakGallery.Com-Sierra Nevada), Dan Schmatz
12:27 EDT 36km/116.1km to go
The gap is up to
2'50" for the break as they go over a dam right now. It's very scenic.
The gap continues to increase. The
rain has pretty much come to a stop here. It's still on and off but we've even
seen patches of sun. It's primarily overcast though.
fact in this race is that every team has two cars in the caravan. Because it
a hors category race, the UCI rule is that each team must have two cars in the
caravan. This hasn't been done in the US before so its something a bit new for
the US domestic teams.
Our reporter Kisten Robbins caught
up with Cesar Grajales before the start. He said his team (Navigators) is going
to lead him to the climb today and he’s going to see what he can do. He thinks
he will be able to hang with the top guys "but its such a hard climb, you just
don’t know what you’ll be able to do until your on it. If you’re not 100% you
won’t be able to get up it," he said.
He does plan on attacking but
it just depends on how he’s feeling and what the other guys are doing. "It’s
just a matter of finding the right time to go."
He added that every
year this race just gets harder. The riders keep getting stronger and stronger
so there is a big difference this year to when he won this race two years ago.
12:39 EDT 40km/112.1km to go
3'34" is the latest
time gap as the riders go over a few rollers here. Phonak had the team on the
front of the peloton just like yesterday. The break continues to work very smoothly.
You'll remember that Jason McCartney
was in a break in this stage last year. He ended up with Tim Johnson and the
pair of them climbed Hogpen Gap together. Hogpen gap is a tough climb. It's
a category one climb and two years ago we saw a lot of action on this climb.
Its the first chance for the climbers to see how their climbing legs are.
Last year all the action happened
on the last climb. Armstrong actually attacked half way up the climb out of
the 15 riders who were left in the front group chasing McCartney and Johnson.
12:53 EDT 52km/100.1km to go
The gap is 3'40"
now with 3km to the sprint. Sébastien Rosseler (Quick Step) has flatted in the
break but he got a very quick change and is almost back in the group.
He's using the caravan to get back
onto the break now.
13:00 EDT 57km/95.1km to go
The break has gone
through the Maxxis sprint line. They didn't contest the sprint, but out of interest
Will Frischkorn went through first, followed by McCartney and Euser. The break
is at 1km to the sprint.
About 25km until the start of the
climb now. This year the race goes up Hogpen in the other direction. Its a little
steeper from this side from memory and about 6km in length.
Last year we saw Floyd Landis left
isolated without any teammates on the final climb after they'd done so much
work in the first half of the stage and in the previous stage. Yesterday however
the Phonak team director Rene Savary explained that things are different this
year. "We have a much better team here this year than last year -- a tougher
team. And our leader, from last year to this year, made a big step forward.
He is a leader now and he is so motivated and full of self-confidence. We will
try everything and we should do it."
Rosseler just had to change his rear
wheel again. Apparently the replacement wheel he got before didn't have a climbing
cluster on it. It would be a hard day to have to go up these climbs is a 21.
Most of the riders here would have at least a 25. Grajales told us this morning
he was going to use a 25. Some riders have 27's and even 28's on the rear.
13:17 EDT 65km/87.1km to go
About 15km to the
bottom of the climb now. The sky is getting a little darker again but its still
dry. The gap has increased to just over four minutes. We'll see what Phonak
do here. Yesterday Savary said they kept the gap to about four minutes, never
letting it get much over that. They know McCartney is a dangerous guy to let
get too far away.
13:21 EDT 70km/82.1km to go
Its 4'35" now. The
guys in the break are going over some small rollers in the lead up to the climb.
They're still taking pretty even short turns and have a good rhythm going. Our
reporter Mark Zalewski is hanging out in the Mavic car today, so a big shout
out to the Mavic guys.
The feedzone comes before they start
climbing, so the break should be reaching that soon.
13:27 EDT 72km/80.1km to go
The break is going
down what officials are calling a dangerous descent now. Its really beautiful
here. The roads are quite narrow back roads and very twisty. We are 3km from
the feed zone and when they get to the end of the feed zone they only have a
kiometer before the climbing starts. Not much time to chow down!
After they descend Hogpen Gap they
actually U-turn to head north to the town of Helen and then onto Brasstown Bald.
So they actually end up not that far from the town in which they started.
The riders in the break have just
started climbing now. The gap is now 4'15". McCartney is leading the climb at
this point. Olson sits on the back. It's a little curvy here and pretty steep.
Its a consistent 8-10%.
13:40 EDT 81km/71.1km to go
The lead group is
splitting up a little. McCartney and Euser have a bit of a gap on the other
four riders. They riders are all out of the saddle.
Its a good 150m gap between McCartney
and Euser to the others. You can see the two leaders have a bit higher cadence
to the other four.
The slope seems to have eased off
a little bit. McCartney is seated now. Euser is still out of the saddle. He's
the only one able to follow McCartney's pace up here.
McCartney has attacked and dropped
Euser. Euser just couldn't hang on anymore.
13:48 EDT 83.7km/68.4km to go
McCartney has about
30 seconds to Euser now. He is seated and has a really nice rhythm. Euser still
has 20 seconds on the rest of the break. Euser will lose his KOM jersey now
as McCartney is only 2 points behind him. McCartney has 1km to the KOM now.
There's a little flat patch here and
then it goes up again for a bit. Back in the field Phonak is on the front as
per usual. Just gradually tapping away. Its hard consistent work for them but
they are content to bring this back gradually.
13:53 EDT 85km/67.1km to go
McCartney has gone
over the KOM now. He has 40 seconds on Euser who still has a good gap on the
group of 4. The peloton are 1km from the top.
The top of this climb is 3485ft in
elevation. Obviously McCartney took the KOM points, followed by Euser. The gap
from McCartney to the field has dropped significantly on this climb and now
sits at 2'41".
Actually that gap was between the
group of 4 and the field, so McCartney has another 40 seconds. The main field
has split into two distinct bunches on this climb.
Will Frischkorn took third place over
the KOM followed by Olson and Kasper Klostergaard Larsen. When the field came
through Florian Stalder was on the front of the Phonak train. Discovery also
has a bit of a separate train going on the climb with Danielson tucked in behind.
Euser actually holds on to his lead
in the KOM classification at this point as only one point separated 1st and
2nd place over the mountain and he had 2 points on McCartney before the stage.
McCartney is making time on everyone.
Euser has been absorbed by the group of four and they are 2'00" back on Jason.
The rest of the field is another 2'00" back on them. Once again McCartney is
having a hell of a ride.
At the top of Brasstown Bald at the
moment. The crowds are starting to gather. Its quite foggy up there.
4'10" from McCartney to the field
now. They are easily reaching speeds of 60m/h on this descent. From the bottom
they have about 35km to the top of the next climb which is up Unicoi Gap.
From the start of Unicoi Gap there
is really no respite. When they reach the peak, they quickly descend and have
to go straight back up. This has got to kill the legs.
The guys in the Mavic rider has just
given Larsen a squirt of chain lube whilst he was riding along. The five guys
in the break are working evenly again. They are 2'15" behind McCartney. The
field is another 2'15" behind them.
McCartney is the leader on the road
for the second time in two days. He's making a habit of this. We are going past
Joe's Rows Corn Maze on some nice rolling terrain. We are on a bit more of a
main road now so its a bit more open.
The gap has fallen again to 4'05".
This road is still straight that the peloton can now see the five riders up
ahead in the distance.
Its about 70 degrees now so its warming up.
Back in the peloton not much has changed.
The Phonak team is on the front setting tempo, just trying to maintain this
gap at not much more than four minutes. Floyd looks comfortable as do the other
The gap between the five chasers and
the field is only 1'20 now so they're coming back a bit. We are not far from
the second Maxxis Sprint. McCartney has 3'00".
14:31 EDT 115km/37.1km to go
McCartney has gone
through the sprint line in the town of Helen. The group of five are 200m from
the sprint but they're not contesting it. There's a nice crowd at the sprint
This road runs along a river. There's
some people fishing. It has some small rapids and apparently people do a lot
of tubing here in the summer. The town also has its fair share of putt putt
golf courses. Quite a place to visit!
Phonak is bringing this down quite
a lot now. Its 2'25 from McCartney to the field now. The group of five are two
minutes behind McCartney.
14:38 EDT 118km/34.1km to go
Olson just sat up.
Its looks like that group of four is going to sit up and wait for the field.
We're in a wooded section along the river. The road surface is really nice along
14:41 EDT 119km/33.1km to go
The peloton is just
about to catch the group of five. Not long until we hit the base of the climb
now. It probably starts going up in a couple of kilometers.
group of five has just been caught as we enter Chatahoochee National Forest.
Phonak has 6 guys setting pace on the front.
McCartney is no longer the leader
on the road. He's 2'10" down on GC and Phonak has just brought the gap down
to under two minutes.
One minute is the gap now and its
coming down. TIAA CREF is on the front of the peloton now chasing McCartney.
The want to get Euser back up there to get some KOM points.
We are on the climb. The roads are
quite wide here. It's a steady consistent climb but the pavement is better here
and a lot wider. The turns are not so sharp, at least at the bottom.
Phonak is back on the front taking back over the pace setting.
A Prodir rider has attacked out of
14:57 EDT 125.5km/26.6km to go
McCartney is 1km
from the top of the climb. He's working hard here.
De La Puebla Ramos was the Prodir rider but he is sitting up and going back
to the field.
400m to the top of the KOM for McCartney.
He has his grimace on again and occasionally sticks his tongue out in concentration.
When he reaches the top he will be
on equal KOM points with Euser - thats if Euser reaches the top in second place.
Pieter Mertens (Davitamon Lott) attacks
out of the field before the top of the KOM and took second place points. He
has now caught McCartney on the descent. Phonak riders took third and fourth
place over the top so Euser is no longer the KOM leader. McCartney has taken
Pieter Mertens and McCartney have
about 20 seconds on the field as they go down this very fast descent. The roads
are very smooth and its not a very twisty descent.
15:06 EDT 132km/20.1km to go
McCartney and Mertens
have been caught on the descent. It's all together. The main group is about
70 riders strong and its moving pretty quickly down the descent.
They have a bit of rolling terrain
and then they hit the big one. Here comes the exciting part of the race.
15km to the finish now. You can see
Brasstown Bald over the top of the tree line as we make this turn. The peloton
is all strung out with Phonak on the front.
15:13 EDT 140km/12.1km to go
We are about 5km
from the base of the climb. The road is getting narrower. The field is still
10km to go until the top of the climb.
Phonak is on the front still setting pace. They have to keep this as fast as
they can to prevent attacks, but they're bound to come anyway when they get
on to climb.
We have good crowds at the top and
the weather is good. They are just on a small climb. Gutierrez has attacked
but he has been covered by Phonak.
The lead group is very small already.
Only 12 riders left up there now. Zabriskie has been dropped from the group
and in a small group behind.
In the front group is Danielson, Popovych
and Brajkovic from Discovery, Landis Stalder and Tschopp from Phonak.
Also in the group is Fernandez, Pinotti
from Prodir, Jurgen Van De Walle from Quick Step, Cesar Grejales (Navigators)
and Justin England (Toyota United).
Correction Tschopp is not up there,
it is Jose Enrique Gutierrez Cataluna.
Discovery is setting the pace in the
group. One of the Gutierrez Cataluna's has lost contact from the Phonak team.
One Discovery rider down, two left.
Popovych is leading the pace. Grajales has been dropped. He is 75m behind the
15:31 EDT 148.5km/3.6km to go
About 3.5km from
the top. It gets really steep here.
Danielson is sitting behind Popovych.
He is out of the saddle. Floyd is behind him. 3km to go. We are doing a tough
switchback now. When you go around here you can see the summit in the distance.
Its really steep here. They're all out of the saddle climbing. Danielson has
attacked. Floyd has gone with him.
Danielson and Landis are alone together.
Popovych has actually caught back on now and is back on the front setting the
Landis looked to easily cover Danielson's
attack that time.
15:36 EDT 150km/2.1km to go
Floyd is attacking
this time. But Danielson grabs his wheel. They are both out of the saddle. They
have 2km to go. They are side by side.
Landis is attacking again!
Danielson has responded. Now they're
talking to each other. That would be an interesting conversation.
15:38 EDT 150.1km/2km to go
They're side by side
again. They are still out of the saddle. They are just now at 2km to go.
Danielson tries again but he can't
get rid of Floyd. popovych made it back to the two and immediately attacked.
Landis covered it. Grajales is also making his way back!
Popvych is a fighter. He is getting
dropped a little but he's coming back.
Popovych has attacked again and has
a small gap ahead of Landis. Grajales is back with Danielson and Landis.
They are at 1km to go. Grajales is
setting the pace from Landis and Danielson.
They are inside the final kilometer.
Popvych is in the lead. He is alone. He is still seated but is fighting.
He still has 50m on Landis and danielson.
Grajales is another 10m behind them.
Popo is still seated and is about
to hit the turn. He is out of the saddle now making the turn and then he sits
He is looking behind him. He gets
out of the saddle. He has 300m to go.
Danielson is attacking Landis now!
200 to go. Danielson is making up
ground. Landis is with him. They have caught Popovych. Danielson attacks!
Floyd comes back, he looks at Floyd
and attacks. Danielson comes back though and starts his sprint. He takes the
win from Floyd.
They finish on the same time!
Popo finishes just behind and Grajales
comes in a bit later.
What an amazing finish. even with
time bonuses it looks like Floyd will hold on to the lead but we'll have to
wait until the official call.
We've just heard that there are no
time bonuses today, so Floyd retains the lead!
Thanks for tuning in. We'll be back
very shortly with the full results and report. Tomorrow is the final stage.
It's 190km from Cumming to Alpharetta with only one cat 3 climb. A stage for
the sprinters and one that is unlkely to affect the overall.
1 Tom Danielson (Discovery)
2 Floyd Landis (Phonak)
3 Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery)
4 Cesar Grajales (Navigators)
1 Floyd Landis (Phonak)
2 Tom Danielson (Discovery)
3 Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery)
Back to top