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Tour de Georgia - 2.HC

USA, April 16-22, 2007

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Stage 2 - April 17: Thomaston to Rome , 217.2km

Complete live report

By Sue George & Mark Zalewski

10:44 EDT    Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 5th Tour de Georgia! We're in the start area in the square with the courthouse in downtown Thomaston, Georgia. Today is sunny and clear, with a light breeze. We'll start full coverage in 15 minutes at 11:00 AM EDT.

10:59 EDT    Racers will begin with a neutral start today. They'll roll out together from the courthouse for the first 5.7 miles. Then the real racing begins on Old Alabama Road as racers make their way toward Pike County. Looks like they'll have a slight tailwind to start, but nothing like yesterday's blustery winds.

11:02 EDT    The racers have rolled off as a large, colorful peloton for their neutral start. We expect them to reach the end of the neutral section and the official start to happen in 15 minutes or less, depending on their intial parade pace.

11:15 EDT    3km/214.1km to go Yesterday's stage was won by Italian Daniele Contrini of Tinkoff Credit Systems. He finished with a 21 second advantage and wears the leaders' jersey today. Contrini had attacked his fellow breakaway companions and soloed in for the win - stealing the win from the sprinters who did not start chasing in time to reel in yesterday's break.

11:21 EDT    We are just coming to the end of the neutral section. Despite the fact that no racing has officially begun yet, there was a crash in peloton. Three riders went down. We don't know whom, but the riders were from Predictor-Lotto, Saunier Duval, and the USA Cycling Development team. No word yet on what caused the crash.

11:27 EDT    We're just getting the official race start, which was a bit later than expected because we had to wait while everyone got sorted out and back in action after the crash. Everyone is reportedly fine, but there was a collection of sundry minor mechanicals to address. The only rider whom we know to have been involved was Kirk O'Bee of the Health Net team.

11:37 EDT    8km/209.1km to go The peloton is one large blob at the moment. They're crusiing at about 24 kilometers per hour or 15 miles per hour. They're stretched wide across curb-to-curb, probably not too motivated to push hard as they are fighting a headwind at the moment.

The race is heading west for now, but soon it will turn north when the wind is expected to be less of a factor. For now, the stage is quite flat. There are some rolling hills.

11:40 EDT    Not a cloud is in the sky today. It's bright and sunny and expected to stay this way all day. Temperatures at the start were in the 50's (deg. Farenheit or 10 to 15 degrees Celsius). It will probably get up to 70 degrees Farenheit today (21 degrees Celsius). You couldn't ask for much nicer conditions.

11:45 EDT    9.6km/207.5km to go We're seeing some action now. Jittery Joes and Priority Health are instigating all the attacks. First, we had a group of seven that got as much as 100 meters before being reeled back in. A group of 11 countered and escaped, and another rider has just bridged up to bring the group to 12 total racers.

11:52 EDT    14.5km/202.6km to go The attacks are continuing, but none are sticking yet. Most have been coming from Team BMC, Jittery Joes, and Priorty - Health, but now Quick Step and Navigators are at the front. At one point, Adam Bergman (Colavita/Sutter Home) was off the front for about 15 seconds, but he just sat up because no one went with him.

11:54 EDT    The speeds are high now. No more lollygagging. Racers are going 56 kph (35 mph) as attacks are launched and reeled back in. We just crossed the Flint River. Soon we'll turn and head north. That means the wind direction will change, which may switch the dynamic of the race.

11:57 EDT    20km/197.1km to go David Mccann (Colavita/Sutter Home), Lucas Euser (Team Slipstream), and Scott Zwizanski (Priority Health) just broke away.

11:57 EDT    But they've been caught. We just made a right turn and are heading north now. So the wind is switching from a headwind to a crosswind.

12:00 EDT    At one point, we were ten minutes behind the slowest published timetable for today. This was due to the crash during the neutral section and the initial slow pace of the race. However, now that racers have picked up the pace, we're back to nine minutes behind.

12:01 EDT    22.5km/194.6km to go We have an attack by Austin King (Jittery Joe's) who is off the front. David Mccann (Colavita/Sutter Home) is chasing solo behind him. They have as many as 20 seconds. Both of these guys were active yesterday. There's not much intial reaction from the peloton.

12:02 EDT    The pack is chasing. Looks like McCann has been caught and King's gap is also dropping. The wind is indeed a crosswind now, from left to right. It's swirling a bit so sometimes it changes to a headwind.

12:05 EDT    King is still off the front. He's being joined by Glen Alan Chadwick (Navigators Insurance) and Garrett Peltonen (Priority Health). They have 15 seconds, no wait it's going up to 25 seconds. We're approaching a construction zone now, and we may narrow down to one lane width of road. The peloton appears to be not responding too much at the moment.

12:11 EDT    29km/188.1km to go Our trio of Austin King (Jittery Joe's), Glen Chadwick (Navigators Insurance), Garrett Peltonen (Priority Health) is successfully getting away. An indifferent peloton has already allowed the gap to increase to 1:40, and it's still growing. Looks like this one may stick for awhile.

12:22 EDT    Before the start of this morning's race, the mayor of Thomaston awarded George Hincapie (Team Discovery) a key to the city. The mayor bestowed this honor upon Hincapie as reigning US National Champion. The South Carolina resident injured his wrist in the Tour of California in February. Forced to miss the European Spring Classics season, he is just getting back into action here at the Tour of Georgia.

12:28 EDT    38.6km/178.5km to go Our lead trio has increased their gap to 5:45. They're cruising at 36.2 kph (22.5 mph). The riders are trading even pulls. We're in the car following the riders and it's driven by our very own chauffeur Chris Gutowsky, who predicts, "It's going to be a long day in the sun for these three guys." Our car is the one with team mascot Grover on the front. So if you're at the race and see us go by, give us a wave!

12:45 EDT    48.3km/168.8km to go The gap is now up to 8:15. The lead break of three will next pass through Luthersville, Georgia. They have about 24 km (15 miles) to go until the first sprint of the day, in Newman, Georgia. There'll be two total sprints today. The other is in Rockmart, 32 km (20 miles) before racers enter the final circuit.

12:48 EDT    53.1km/164km to go The gap is still going up. Now it's at 8:30. Meanwhile, back in the peloton, Tinkoff is at the front. They're controlling the peloton and chasing, but not too hard. Looks like the pack is strung out, but not quite single file.

12:56 EDT    The peloton is crossing through the 50km complete mark. Feeding was opened earlier than usual today because of the temperatures. The gap is up to 9:15 between the lead trio and the peloton. That translates into about four miles separating the groups out on the road.

13:04 EDT    61.5km/155.6km to go The gap is holding and maybe even still climbing a bit. It's between 9 and 10 minutes. Austin King, the man who initiated the current break, turned pro last year. He's a strong time trialist who took top ten in several stages and the overall at last year's Valley of the Sun Stage race. The Jittery Joes' rider hails from Phoenix, Arizona, and he was active in an early break during yesterday's Stage 1, when the action was getting underway.

13:13 EDT    69.2km/147.9km to go King, Chadwick, and Peltonen now have 9 minutes lead, so it looks like it's dropped slightly. They are approaching the sprint in Newnan, which comes up in another mile or two.

13:19 EDT    73.5km/143.6km to go On the line for the first sprint today is US$1000 to the winner. The sprint is slightly downhill. They are waiting until near the end of it. Chadwick stands up and goes for it at about 150m until the line. He takes it...ahead of Peltonen in second and King in third. Now they are back working smoothly together again.

13:26 EDT    One of ourbreak riders, Garrett Peltonen, crashed yesterday near the end of the stage in Macon. On his blog, he wrote, "Coming into the circuits here in Macon trying to help out our protected riderd for the day I went down in a corner and lost a bunch of skin...then had to ride the circuits all by myself off the back." Peltonen mustn't be too sore today in the aftermath of his crash since he's managed to get himself into the main break.

13:31 EDT    After the stage yesteday, Peltonen told Cyclingnews' onsite reporter, Mark Zalewski that he wasn't too banged up, and the only significant consequences of his crash were some road rash.

13:35 EDT    At the sprint line in Newnan, the peloton was officially 8:40 back. Discovery and Tinkoff are leading the chase from the peloton. Brian Vandborg (Discovery Channel) is driving the group, ahead of two Tinkoff racers and one more Discovery guy. Behind them, is the entire Jittery Joes team led by Trent Wilson. No doubt they are trying to slow the chase from catching teammate Austin King.

13:38 EDT    We must correct the spelling of our first sprint line town host. It's Newnan, not Newman, Georgia.

13:44 EDT    Andy from Chicago tells us that Austin King was one of the riders in the movie "Cobbles Baby" and that King has spent some time training at the Cycling Center in Belgium and racing in Europe.

13:52 EDT    93.3km/123.8km to go We just passed a small town and went around a miniature roundabout. It wasn't your typical roundabout - it had Bott's dots (the upraised semi-spherical road markers we always hear about in the Tour of California) that were four times the size of "normal" Bott's dots. You wouldn't want to hit those on your bike. Now we're passing Whitesburg Elementary School. All the kids are out front cheering and screaming as we pass. Our mascot, Grover, riding on the front of our car, seems to be a big hit with the local schoolkids. Thoughout the day, the school children have been out along the course, getting a break from class and cheering the racers. The gap is holding pretty steady at 8:30. Discovery and Tinkoff are still leading the chasing peloton, while the lead trio continues to trade pulls evenly.

13:59 EDT    100km/117.1km to go We're nearing the half-way point of the race and our trio of Austin King (Jittery Joe's), Glen Alan Chadwick (Navigators Insurance), Garrett Peltonen (Priority Health) remains off the front with the gap holding fairly steady at 8:30. We've just turned off the main Highway 61 onto a smaller road with some more elevation delta. We're dropping down to a creek and then will climb up again. It'll be interesting to see if the terrain changes cause any action in the break or help us see how each rider is doing.

14:08 EDT    108.5km/108.6km to go The gap is slightly down to 8:20 now. We're at the half-way point. Going up the hills, King is doing more of the pulling, but otherwise, they seem to still be working pretty evenly.

14:15 EDT    Yesterday's stage winner Daniele Contrini (Tinkoff) also ended the day as the sprint points leader. But since he can't display both jerseys at the same time, he gets to wear the leader's jersey while the points jersey is on the back of Navigators' Viktor Rapinski, who is sitting second in the points classification.

14:18 EDT    Rapinski told Mark Zalewski of Cyclingnews that the sprint jersey was not a predetermined goal of his, but "If I'm in the jersey, we'll keep working for it. Obviously the overall is more important." He also said before the start that he was feeling pretty good again today like yesterday.

14:25 EDT    114.2km/102.9km to go We turned off main rain road to 4 notch road. It's a winding hilly residential road. Seems to be putting a little hurt on the riders again. Hill is leading over the rises which suggests he's either the strongest or the most willing to work.

14:27 EDT    Now Chadwick takes a turn on the uphill. We're trying to get another time split to see how the gap is holding.

We're turning back onto the main road. Chadwick swings off and Peltonen takes over the lead, which means everyone is still working together in the break.

14:42 EDT    125.5km/91.6km to go The gap has dropped somewhat. It's down to 7:05. At its highest point, it was between 9 and 10 minutes. Today's stage is much longer than yesterday. After 206 km (128 miles), racers will enter a finishing circuit in Rome, Georgia, where they will complete three laps. The finishing circuit is likely to be the key to the race for deciding any break or group finishes. It is extremely technical with two high-speed downhill 90 degree corners and one 120 degree turn. The finish is downhill after the two 90 degree turns (also both downhill). The circuit is like a long criterium course.

14:46 EDT    The gap is starting to drop more quickly now. It's at 6:15. We've pulled over by the side of the road and are waiting for the peloton to catch back up so we can tell you what's happening with the chase.

14:52 EDT    Each 4.1 km (2.5 mile) downtown finishing circuit features a steep wall of a climb (rated category 4). The first time up, riders will be awarded KOM points. They will climb the first time, then descend all the way to the finish where they will get two laps to go.

14:57 EDT    133.6km/83.5km to go We're watching the peloton now. It is being controlled by Tinkoff, CSC, and Toyota United. Those teams are spearheading the chase to catch our three breakaway riders.

There is one rider from each of the above teams at the front of the peloton, then a mix of riders from those teams just behind them.

15:01 EDT    Now it's Tinkoff and Discovery driving the peloton. At the front are one Tinkoff rider, 2 Disco riders, 2 Toyota riders, then 3 more from Tinkoff.

They're echeloning across road. The peloton is pretty single file, and there is still a bit of wind, but it has died down significantly today. The speed is starting to pick up. Now Discovery is at the front.

15:03 EDT    The gap is down to 5:40 and Discovery swings off. Toyota - United's Chris Wherry and Burke Swindlehurst and Tinkoff's Elio Aggiano are now leading the chase. Some riders have their jerseys zipped down pretty far. It's getting warm out here.

15:10 EDT    Garrett Peltonen's injured Priority Health teammate Tom Zirbel wrote us and said Peltonen is keeping him from going out training. He said, "Garrett has one of the biggest diesel engines I've ever encountered. It takes him 4 hours in the saddle just to get warmed up. I know from personal experience as he was ripping my legs off near the end of 5 hour rides in January. But right now - he's keeping me from riding cuz I'm glued to the computer!" We'll see if his engine is big enough to hold off the chasing peloton.

15:12 EDT    141.6km/75.5km to go There's been a crash! It happened mid-pack and for no obvious reason. We're on a wide, smooth 2 lane road. Some guys are off the back now. Half the team cars are back there helping riders involved in the wreck. The gap has dropped to five minutes.

15:15 EDT    We haven't said much about our third break member Glen Chadwick yet. The second-year Navigators rider used to race for Team DFL - Cyclingnews. The Australian now holds a Kiwi license and has spent time based in Belgium training and racing.

15:18 EDT    148km/69.1km to go The riders involved in the crash were Levi Leipheimer (Discovery Channel), Gianni Meersman (Discovery Channel), Mike Sayers (BMC), Jackson Stewart (BMC). Everyone got up and was able to roll again, but Mike Sayers has just abandoned. The gap is dropping quickly. It's at 4:30 now.

15:27 EDT    Slight correction to what we wrote before. Glen Chadwick was actually born and raised in New Zealand and then moved with his parents to Australia in his teens. For the last two years, he's resided in Belgium. He's the current national TT champion of New Zealand, so he'll be wearing his black and white kit in the race's time trials.

15:31 EDT    152.8km/64.3km to go The gap is down to 3:50. Seth wrote in to ask us about Ivan Dominguez's bike. He'd heard a rumor that Dominguez was not on the Fuji team issue bike yesterday, but on a Fuji Aloha instead. Turns out Mark Zalewski had asked Dominguez about it before the start today. It's a full carbon bike with a bladed downtube and a "huge" headtube. Dominguez said it was "a new bike," that it was really stiff, and he likes it a lot. Maybe he is helping Fuji test out some new equipment?

15:39 EDT    We've had good crowds in the sprint towns and at various hot spots along the route. It's sparser in between. Folks are coming out of their houses along the course to watch. We've also had great support from the schools, who've let their kids out to cheer as we pass. We're expecting to see lots more people again once we get to the finishing circuit in Rome.

15:45 EDT    164km/53.1km to go Elio Aggiano (Tinkoff Credit Systems), Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Team CSC), and Steffen Weigold (Tinkoff Credit Systems) have been leading the chase for the Peloton. Discovery and Toyota-United also have a bunch of riders up there.

The gap is down to 3:15. Break away racer Austin King (Jittery Joe's) just called up his team car to help him with a malfunctioning computer. He's still off the front with Glen Alan Chadwick (Navigators Insurance) and Garrett Peltonen (Priority Health) while the peloton works to reel them in.

15:51 EDT    170km/47.1km to go We are 5 km from the second and final sprint of today. It's in Rockmart, Georgia.

15:56 EDT    We're crossing railroad tracks less than 1 km from the line. Then it's uphill to the sprint.

Unlike the first sprint, there is no money on the line for this one. Glen Chadwick might sprint again to protect his teammate Viktor Rapinski's lead in the sprint points classification.

15:56 EDT    Chadwick takes the points with King behind him. Peltonen is 10 seconds off the back of the duo after the sprint.

15:58 EDT    175km/42.1km to go Chadwick is taking a moment to eat a bite. The gap is down to 2:30 back to the peloton. We're passing some more schoolkids and folks standing outside their businesses as they watch the race go by.

16:01 EDT    King will likely be awarded the most aggressive rider of the day. Peltonen is still 10 seconds off the back of the lead break with King and Chadwick. Meanwhile, Justin England (Toyota-United) has a flat back in the main peloton.

16:04 EDT    Peltonen is back about 35 seconds off the lead duo now. Looks like he may be blown for the day and our break is down to only two riders: Austin King (Jittery Joe's) and Glen Chadwick (Navigators Insurance).

16:10 EDT    183.5km/33.6km to go King is doing a pull on the front. He's still working strong with Chadwick, and they're both taking even, but hard pulls.

16:14 EDT    185km/32.1km to go Peltonen is about 2 minutes behind and about to get caught by the field. The delta between the two leaders and the pack is 2:35. Chadwick and King are in the drops, pedaling hard.

16:19 EDT    187.9km/29.2km to go Chadwick has pulled for almost a mile straight, including a few inclines. Looks like King is starting to fade a little.

King is cracking right now as we go up an incline. Chadwick looks over his shoulder and sees that King is folding. That's it Chadwick is pulling away up this 1 km uphill drag. Chadwick is going solo. He still looks pretty comfortable.

King is on the brakehoods. He's all over his bike. It was a good ride for him - he was active yesterday, too.

16:20 EDT    Chadwick is used to breaking away. This is what he does. He did it a lot at Tour de Beauce last year. He's taking some drinks now. Trying to stay hydrated. He's still looking over his shoulder - we're not sure if he's looking for where King is or for his team car. King is 15 seconds back already.

Peltonen, the original third member of the break, has been absorbed by the field. Chadwick remains out front leading solo with 2:05 gap.

16:23 EDT    192.1km/25km to go Chadwick is still away solo. King is going backward fast. The gap Chadwick has is at 1:15. It's still coming down. He's putting in a big effort, but it may not be enough to fend off a charging peloton with 25 km still to go.

16:24 EDT    King has dropped back to one minute behind Chadwick. He's fading fast and will soon be caught by the peloton.

16:27 EDT    195km/22.1km to go Karen Bliss, Marketing Manager for Fuji, wrote in to clear up our mystery. "Regarding Ivan's new bike - it is a Fuji Aloha CF frame that Ivan is testing for us as a road frame. He's had it for a little over a week and fell in love with it." King just caught caught by the peloton. The gap to Chadwick from the peloton in 1:40.

16:29 EDT    Chadwick is grimacing with his effort as he grips the brakehoods and stands up to push up a hill. There are still cars behind him, so as he looks back, he knows he still has at least a minute gap. Chadwick looks over at the TV camera as he goes up another incline on this rolling terrain. He's about to get the 20km to go. The gap is 1:25.

16:33 EDT    Chadwick is one mile from the city limits of Rome. About 3km after entering the city limits, he'll hop on the finishing circuit. He'll get 2 laps to go after he crosses the finish line for the first time.

16:35 EDT    200.8km/16.3km to go Chadwick is in Rome now. The gap is still dropping. It's at 1 minute.

16:38 EDT    202.1km/15km to go Chadwick's gap down to 45 seconds. He's got 15 km to go.

16:41 EDT    The peloton has decreased Chadwick's lead to 30 seconds. Chadwick is not yet at the finishing circuit.

16:42 EDT    Down to 20 seconds...

16:43 EDT    Chadwick is about to enter the finishing circuit. The peloton has him in sight. His lead is down to 10 seconds. He looks over his shoulder. He sees them. He knows it's over and starts to coast a little bit.

16:44 EDT    Health Net is on the front with four, no wait six, riders. Chadwick starts to sit up. He is caught! Toyota is up there, too.

16:46 EDT    207.8km/9.3km to goThere is one kilometer to go until the KOM. That's the first trip up the category 4 climb. Rory Sutherland is on the front for Health Net, leading up to the climb. CSC is now taking over.

16:46 EDT    A CSC rider took the KOM points. We don't know whom yet. When they hit the finish in 1 km, they'll get two laps to go.

16:48 EDT    Two laps to go. Health Net is back on the front. Ryder Hesjedal leads and another Healthnet rider is also at the front.

16:51 EDT    Navigators has taken over at the front. The peloton has slowed down a bit and is spread across the road. At the front are Ben Jacques-Maynes (Priority Health), Nathan O'neill (Health Net), andRyder Hesjedal (Health Net). They are heading up the climb again now.

16:52 EDT    Results of the KOM: Ben Jacques-Maynes (Priority Health), Nathan O'neill (Health Net), Ryder Hesjedal (Health Net), Sergey Lagutin (Navigators Insurance). Navigators is still on the front. Now it looks like one Navigators rider is off the front with 100m gap.

16:53 EDT    209.6km/7.5km to go One lap to go. The solo rider was brought back. Navigators still has three riders at the front.

16:54 EDT    Three riders from Discovery come to the front. A Saunier Duval Pro Rider follows in fourth.

16:55 EDT    213.1km/4km to go It's all strung out. A CSC rider attacks. He's got 20 m.

16:55 EDT    214.1km/3km to go He's got his hands on top of the hoods and he's going as hard as he can, but Discovery is keeping him in his sights.

16:56 EDT    David Zabriskie (Team CSC) is the rider off the front. He's going up over the climb, but then he gets caught.

16:56 EDT    216.1km/1km to go Toyota and Saunier Duval are at the front. A Saunier Duval rider attacks and opens up a slight advantage. 600 m to go.

16:57 EDT    216.5km/0.6km to go One more turn to go

16:57 EDT    Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United) has the lead.

16:58 EDT    Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United) holds them off and wins by about 50m!

16:58 EDT    There may have been a crash back in the pack.

17:13 EDT    For preliminary results, we had Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United) in first and Juan José Haedo (Team CSC) in second.

We'll get the rest of the results up soon here at www.cyclingnews.com.

That wraps up our live coverage for today.

You can join us again tomorrow for Stage 3 at noon EDT. Tomorrow's stage runs from Rome, GA to Chattanooga, TN over 118 miles.

Thanks for following today!

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