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Tour de Georgia - 2.HC

USA, April 16-22, 2007

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Stage 7 - April 22: Atlanta circuit race, 123.9km

Complete live report

16:19 EDT    Thanks again for follwing Stage 6 of the 2007 Tour de Georgia on www.cyclingnews.com. We will bring you complete live coverage of the final stage from downtown Atlanta, GA starting Sunday at 1pm Eastern Standard Time (US).

12:42 EDT    Good afternoon from sunny and warm Atlanta, Georgia. Today's stage is a 124-kilometer circuit race around downtown. There is a slight elevation gain and loss per 14-kilometer lap to bring pain to the legs of the 108 riders still in the race, including a slight uphill sprint to the finish line. The onus is on Discovery to protect Janez Brajkovic's 12-second lead over Christian Vandevelde (CSC). We expect the pressure to come right away. But should a break develop from that pressure, there are plenty of teams still hunting for a stage win so Discovery may not have to do all the work to control the race by themselves. Racing gets underway in approximately 25 minutes. Stay tuned for all the www.cyclingnews.com play-by-play.

13:00 EDT    Riders are being called to the line in anticipation of the start (about four minutes away unless a medical emergency out on the course holds things up). There will be no nuetral start this morning. There are sprints on lap 3, 5, 7 and 9 - at the start/finish line. Each sprint awards 5, 3 and 1 points and 3, 2 and 1 seconds toward the sprint competition. The final sprint is worth 10, 6 and 4 seconds bonus and 15, 12 and 10 points for the top three.

13:00 EDT    They're off.

13:04 EDT    Our field reporter, Mark Zalewski, caught up with Chris Baldwin of the Toyota United team this morning. He asked if Baldwin was worn out from all the work at the front of the race his team had to do. "I liked it," Baldwin said. "It gave us something to do during the race." Not sure if his teammates would share his enthusiasm but Baldwin says he hopes to be working at the front again today.

13:10 EDT    6km/118km to go We have a Quick Step rider off the front by a hundred meters - Hubert Schwab.

13:10 EDT    The peloton is chasing hard. Schwab attacked at a spot on the course where the road narrows to one lane briefly.

13:11 EDT    Five other riders have bridged up.

13:12 EDT    Hubert Schwab (Quick Step), Nick Reistad (USA National Development Team), Anders Lund (Team CSC), Daniele Contrini (Tinkoff Credit Systems), Neil Shirley (Jittery Joe's), Davide Frattini (Colavita/Sutter Home)

13:13 EDT    The gap is holding at ten seconds with five kilometers left in the first 14-kilometer lap. We will be doing nine laps today.

13:16 EDT    We are on kilometer from finsihing the first lap. The leaders are still away.

13:17 EDT    It is all together coming to the start/finish line.

13:19 EDT    14km/110km to go Our other field reporter, Kristen Robbins, caught up with JJ Haedo of team CSC, who currently leads the sprint points competition (one point over Fred Rodriguez). He says his team's goal is to win a stage today (not, interestingly, to find a way to take the GC). To that end, Haedo says he will not necassarily contest the intermediate sprints because there are enough points in the final sprint that if he just wins the stage, he will take the sprint jersey.

13:20 EDT    Seven riders are off the front in a counter attack. They have ten secods on the field.

13:22 EDT    Leonardo Scarselli (Quick Step), Adam Bergman (Colavita/Sutter Home), Daniele Contrini (Tinkoff Credit Systems), Elio Aggiano (Tinkoff Credit Systems), Nathan O'neill (Health Net), Timothy Duggan (Team Slipstream), Ivan Stevic (Toyota-United) are in the break.

13:22 EDT    Mauro Facci (Quick Step) and Lucas Euser (Team Slipstream) are trying to bridge.

13:24 EDT    17km/107km to go The chasers are caught.

13:24 EDT    The leaders are still away.

13:26 EDT    Some riders have made it over to the leaders now. Stand by for the rider list.

13:27 EDT    But the break was caught before I could do the list for you. The peloton is all together.

13:28 EDT    And as expected, the counter attacks have started right up. With alost 20-kilometers into the race, there is not rest for the peloton today.

13:30 EDT    A note about today's racecourse - the roads around downtown Atlanta are not very race friendly. Kirsten Robbins reports that there are potholes throughout the circuit and obstructions like cares and commercial dumpsters parked on the course. Several riders have already flatted. Riders will need to be extra cautious to avoid injury or an untimely mechanical problem.

13:31 EDT    CSC is setting pace.

13:32 EDT    Hubert Schwab (Quick Step) must have his eyes on sprint prizes or the most-aggressive rider award for today because he is away again and has ten seconds.

13:33 EDT    Janez Brajkovic (Discovery) looks comfortable in the field, sitting with teammates and holding pace quite well.

13:35 EDT    It would seem that Janez Brajkovic's GC leadership is pretty well in hand too - when our reporter spoke to the CSC team manager this morning, he confirmed what JJ Haedo said to her - that CSC is out for a stage win today and do not plan to concern themselves with getting Christian Vandevelde in the GC jersey.

13:36 EDT    18 riders are now together off the front.

13:38 EDT    26km/98km to go Ryder Hesjedal (Health Net) and Jonathan Garcia (BMC) are trying to escape the break and have a short gap.

13:43 EDT    31km/93km to go It's all back together again.

13:45 EDT    32km/92km to go As the riders come through the start/finish line to go out on the third lap, they will be sprinting for points and time bonuses. Colavita and CSC are setting pace in the peloton. The race has averaged 44.26 kph so far.

13:46 EDT    Three riders are trying to escape in advance of the sprint.

13:47 EDT    But with speeds at 58kph now, they are coming back.

13:48 EDT    34km/90km to go One kilometer to the sprint now - which is on a long, slight uphill.

13:48 EDT    Sergei Lagutin is attacking.

13:50 EDT    Lagutin takes the sprint. Preben Van Hecke (Predictor-Lotto) took second. Cesar Augusto Grajales (Jittery Joe's) took third.

13:50 EDT    Cesar Grajales (Jittery Joe's) has attacked and has ten secondss on the field.

13:52 EDT    38km/86km to go Leonardo Scarselli (Quick Step) is bridgeing up; only 100 meters behind Grajales.

13:53 EDT    Grejales has ten seconds on the peloton. Scarselli is having trouble getting Grejales' wheel.

13:53 EDT    PS: Thanks to the fan with the Grover sign at 3-kilometers into the lap.

13:54 EDT    Ben Jacques-Maynes (Priority Health) and Kirk O'bee (Health Net) have joined Scarselli in his attempt to get with Grejales and form a real break.

13:54 EDT    Grejales has 15 seconds on the peloton now.

13:55 EDT    The four riders are together at the front.

13:56 EDT    The chase is perceptibly slowing. The peloton must like the make-up of this small group. Caveat Emptor though - Ben Jaques-Maynes and Kirk O'bee are the kind of riders who will kill themselves to make this kind of break stick. The lead is 25 seconds now.

13:57 EDT    The lead has increased to 35 seconds.

13:58 EDT    Kirk O'bee (Health Net) has a slight advantage over the other three riders - who are working together now.

14:01 EDT    44km/80km to go The lead is up to 55 seconds.

14:03 EDT    I was mistaken about the complete make-up of the break. Only O'Bee, Grejales and Jaques-Maynes are there. Scarselli must not have made it across to the break as earlier reported. The three are working well together. Their lead over the peloton has risen to 1:05.

14:05 EDT    46km/78km to go Lead up to 1:30 now. This should settle the race down; give the peloton a break.

14:09 EDT    We want to thank Nadine Meersman for writing in. "My son is also in the tour de georgia, with the discovery channel cycling team (by the way, he won the 3rd stage) and thanks to U we knew everything abouth his first victory live here in Belgium." Her son is Gianni Meersman of course.

14:10 EDT    51km/73km to go The break is up to 1:40.

14:11 EDT    We spoke to Harm Jansen, the DS of Toyota United, this morning. He said that Toyota United is only interested in a stage win today and would not be represented in any break of less than four riders.

14:12 EDT    Toyota United's star sprinter, Ivan (the Cuban Missle) Dominguez told us this morning "This is a perfect course for my style of riding. It's a long drag to the finish so I won't have to fight for position as much."

14:17 EDT    Gap is holding at 1:35.

14:20 EDT    A couple of Slipstream riders had some wheel trouble thanks to Atlanta's pot holes. Craig Lewis gave up his rear wheel for Timmy Duggan - even pushed him back up to speed. Both riders made it back into the peloton.

14:21 EDT    The laps are taking just about fifteen minutes.

14:27 EDT    I needed to correct the total distance of the race. With nine laps at 11.8-kilometers each, the race will cover 107-kilometers.

14:27 EDT    The leaders are 1-kilometer ahead of the peloton with an advantage of 1:45.

14:29 EDT    63km/44km to go There are four laps remaining in the race. We should see a finsh at about 3:30pm Eastern Standard Time (US).

14:29 EDT    The riders just contested the second intermediate sprint of the day. Jaques-Maynes took third.

14:30 EDT    The gap is now at 1:50.

14:31 EDT    Jaques-Maynes has flatted and is taking a spare from Mavic nuetral support.

14:32 EDT    Theo other two leaders appear to be waiting for Jaques-Maynes to come back to the break - sharing the load three ways is better than two right?

14:34 EDT    Jaques-Maynes is still working to get back to Grejales and O'Bee. And it looks like he isn't going to make it - he has sat up and now has only 50 seconds over the peloton compared to the break's 1:40.

14:38 EDT    The leaders are passing through the start/finish line on their way out for lap number seven of nine. Grejales and O'Bee are still working well together and holding the lead. Jaques-Maynes has just been swept back into the peloton.

14:42 EDT    The last intermediate sprint comes up at the end of this lap. With only two riders in the break, there is one bonus point remaining for the peloton. JJ Haedo (CSC) leads Fred Rodriguez in that competition by one point. The fact that both teams are at the front of the peloton could indicate that the two intend to fight for that point.

14:43 EDT    Race leader Brajkovic just flatted. His teammate, Brian Vandborg, gave up a wheel but the riders are struggling with it and he is not yet back on the road. George Hincapie has dropped back to bring him back to the peloton.

14:44 EDT    Mission accomplished - Brajkovic is back in the field. What a scare!

14:44 EDT    Now that there are only two breakaway riders, the lead is coming down slightly - to 1:35 now.

14:47 EDT    79km/28km to go The gap is down to 1:25.

14:51 EDT    A few people have emailed asking about a spectator who crashed descending Brasstown Bald after Stage 5 of the 2007 Tour de Georgia. Reader Erik Van Name sent in an update from the Atlanta Jpurnal-Constitution It reads "A cycling fan who ascended Brasstown Bald on Friday to watch the end of the steepest stage of the Tour de Georgia bicycle race nearly died after losing control of his bicycle on the way down and crashing into a rock embankment. Rescuers kept Thomas Kinnebrew alive with chest compressions, said Trooper Johnny Ensley of the Georgia State Patrol. Kinnebrew, 53, of Helena, Ark., was wearing a helmet, but suffered severe injuries to his head and spine and a collapsed lung, the trooper said. Kinnebrew was in critical but stable condition at North Fulton Regional Hospital on Saturday. He was paralyzed from the waist down and on life support, said Ensley, of the patrolâ's Blue Ridge Post 27."

14:52 EDT    The break is down to 1 minute.

14:53 EDT    Glenn Chadwick (Navigators) was just announced as the winner of the oevrall Most Aggressive Rider classification.

14:54 EDT    At this pace, the two leaders may be swept up just after the intermediate sprint - coming up in about 1-kilometers.

14:55 EDT    83.5km/23.5km to go Grejales rolls through in front of O'Bee. The leaders are now on the eighth of nine laps. The gap is still one minute.

14:57 EDT    The gap is down to 50 seconds. It didn't appear that Prodir or CSC did anythng but roll through the sprint line. Geert Steurs (Predictor-Lotto) took third place in the sprint (first in the peloton). So the two teams are content to take their battle for the points jersey to the final sprint at the finish.

14:59 EDT    87km/20km to go The gap is holding at 55 seconds.

15:00 EDT    Predictor Lotto is driving the peloton.

15:02 EDT    Another flat - Leonardo Scarselli (Quick Step) takes a rear wheel.

15:04 EDT    The lead looks doomed at this point - the gap is down to 40 seconds.

15:07 EDT    93km/14km to go The gap is down to 35 seconds. The peloton is driving now, content to pull the race back together for the final lap. It should be a quick final 11-kilometers.

15:08 EDT    25 seconds now.

15:10 EDT    95km/12km to go Grejales and O'Bee aren't throwing it in yet though - their heads are down and their hands are in the drops. They are driving with every ounce of energy they have left. But this is one of those beautiful things about cycling - no mater how strong you are individually, it is almost impossible to overcome the will of the peloton.

15:11 EDT    95.2km/11.8km to go The leaders are now on the bell lap. They are holding at 30 seconds.

15:13 EDT    The peloton is one the heels of the two breakaway riders now. A counter attack is launching.

15:13 EDT    David Canada Gracia (Saunier Duval - Prodir), David Millar (Saunier Duval - Prodir), Thomas Danielson (Discovery Channel).

15:13 EDT    If they join the two leaders, that will put five away with ten to twenty seconds lead.

15:14 EDT    Timothy Duggan (Team Slipstream) is trying to bridge accross.

15:16 EDT    This is potentially a good move. With Tom Danielson in the move, Discovery can sit in the peloton. But I can't imagine that Toyota United, CSC and Predictor Lotto will let this sit.

15:16 EDT    An update on the break - it contains Thomas Danielson (Discovery Channel), David Millar (Saunier Duval - Prodir), Timothy Johnson (Health Net), Kirk O'bee (Health Net), Timothy Duggan (Team Slipstream), Cesar Augusto Grajales (Jittery Joe's)

15:17 EDT    They have 10 seconds on the field with about 7 kilometers to go.

15:18 EDT    100km/7km to go The advantage is 15 seconds.

15:18 EDT    Not everyone in the breaks appears cooperative. It may split.

15:19 EDT    It seems that the Health Net riders are not working with the break and it's Danielson and Millar putting the most pressure on at the front.

15:19 EDT    The gap is down to 100 meters.

15:20 EDT    And they are all together with 6-kilometer to go.

15:21 EDT    The front of the peloto is frenetic; several riders are trying to shake loose. But Discovery Channel is policing the front and holding it together.

15:21 EDT    A Health Net/Maxxis rider is at the front.

15:22 EDT    Followed by a Slipstream rider then a Prodir rider.

15:23 EDT    Millar and a Tinkoff rider have broken free. They are followed by three more riders. They have a gap on the field.

15:24 EDT    That break is nuetralized.

15:24 EDT    104.5km/2.5km to go A crash.

15:25 EDT    106km/1km to go Toyota United has lost a rider.

15:26 EDT    The pack is wound up for the sprint - all together now.

15:26 EDT    JJ Haedo takes the win.

15:27 EDT    Fast Freddy and Sergei Lagutin took off with about 200-meters to go but CSC's young sprint star was able to power through for the stage win.

15:27 EDT    Which means Brajkovic's GC lead was preserved and he will win the 2007 Tour de Georgia for the Discovery Channel Cycling team.

15:33 EDT    The unofficial top ten are: 1 Juan José Haedo (Team CSC) 2.25.30 2 Fred Rodriguez (Predictor-Lotto) 3 Sergey Lagutin (Navigators Insurance) 4 Ivan Dominguez (Toyota-United) 5 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel 6 Justin England (Toyota-United) 7 Ruggero Marzoli (Tinkoff Credit Systems) 8 Daniele Contrini (Tinkoff Credit Systems) 9 Evan Elken (Jittery Joe's) 10 Charles Dionne (Colavita/Sutter Home)

15:34 EDT    Thanks for tuning in to www.cyclingnews.com for the 2007 Tour de Georgia. Come back later for full results, photos and a race report.

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