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Tour de Georgia - 2.HC

USA, April 16-22, 2007

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Stage 1 - April 16: Peachtree City to Macon , 153km

Complete live report

12:51 EDT   
Welcome to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 5th Tour de Georgia! We're on the start line in Peachtree City, awaiting the gun for the start of the first stage. The riders all arrived a bit early, and are sitting around in the sun, sipping coffee and signing the occasional autograph.

It's a very blustery day in Georgia. A cold front is moving through the area, and high wind warnings are up all along today's route. The riders should have a tailwind for much of the stage, which could make for an early arrival in Macon.

13:06 EDT    1km/152km to go
Today's course is 153 kilometres or typical rolling Southern roads. The riders head out of Peachtree City, which is just southwest of Atlanta, and then race towards Macon to the southeast.

They're off for stage one! The riders roll out past the JC Booth middle school, and the children cheer for a few hours off from class - and for the riders as they speed past.

13:11 EDT   
We're expecting a fast race today, since high winds will be at the riders' backs for most of the day. At the finish line, there is a women's race, the Komen 'Cycle for the Cure' on the finishing circuit in Macon. Right now the amateur beginner women are on the course, and at 2PM, the pro women will line up. Colavita's Tina Pic will be there, along with the Cheerwine, Aaron's, and BMW-Bianchi teams.

13:14 EDT    5km/148km to go
Adam Bergman (Colavita) has attacked. He's got a 15" advantage on the peloton with only 5km ridden.

13:23 EDT    13km/140km to go
Bergman is caught - the 30kph tailwind helped the chase along as the peloton speeds past another group of school children. The speed of the race is very high at the moment - averaging well over 50kph thanks to that tail wind.

Now we have an attack from Austin King (Jittery Joe's) - he's just in front of the peloton, which is taking its time.

13:25 EDT    14km/139km to go
Jeffry Louder (Health Net) is now trying to bridge across to King. It will be difficult for any breakaway to stick today, not only because of the strong winds, but also because this is one of the few stages for the sprinters. Teams like Predictor-Lotto and Toyota United will want to keep things together for Fred Rodriguez and Ivan Dominguez.

13:27 EDT    15km/138km to go
Louder and King are absorbed by the bunch, as predicted. Cyclingnews spoke with Ivan Dominguez before the start, and he's hungry for a stage win in Macon. The 'Cuban Missile' has done the finishing circuits the last three years, and thinks that this will give him an advantage. There are some tricky bits in there, with hills, sharp turns and a cobbled section, so he's hoping his knowledge will give him an edge to win.

13:35 EDT    22km/131km to go
We had several attacks, but nothing is bearing any fruit so far. It's still very early in the race, and there are lots of fresh legs. This will certainly change later in the week when the race heads to the mountains!

13:40 EDT    24km/129km to go
We have another attack - this time it's Gustavo Artacho (Colavita/Sutter Home) and Garrett Peltonen (Priority Health). They open up a nice gap, and then Tommy Nankervis (Jittery Joe's)and Elio Aggiano (Tinkoff Credit Systems) go across.

13:44 EDT    30km/123km to go
Now more riders are trying to get across to the move - Justin England (Toyota-United), Jeffry Louder (Health Net) again, and Hubert Schwab (Quick Step) try to close the distance to the leaders.

13:52 EDT    32km/121km to go
Well, that's it for that move. The peloton just isn't letting anything get very far today. Plenty of riders are counting on a bunch sprint today, we spoke with Ben Brooks, the Navigators sprinter, and he wants revenge for the second place he suffered two years ago in Macon at the hands of Robbie Hunter.

13:57 EDT   
Tour de Georgia might have been a bit dicey this year, what with the last minute financial negotiations, but it appears to have gone off without a hitch. The start list is pretty well stocked - with five ProTour sending teams to the USA. We've got Giro d'Italia winner Gilberto Simoni, US TT champ and Tour de France yellow jersey wearer Dave Zabriskie... and making his return after years spent under the cloud of a doping suspension is Tyler Hamilton.

14:00 EDT    40km/113km to go
We've got a big breakaway at the moment - an attack from Kirk O'Bee (Health Net) was followed by Viktor Rapinski (Navigators Insurance), Jonathan Garcia (BMC), Trent Wilson (Jittery Joe's), Matthew Harley Goss (Team CSC), Christophe Brandt (Predictor-Lotto), Hubert Schwab (Quick Step), Evan Elken (Jittery Joe's). They only have about 13 seconds, and the cooperation just doesn't appear to be there.

14:00 EDT    41km/112km to go
The breakaway was just too big to work, and so Viktor Rapinski (Navigators Insurance) decided to attack the move as it was being caught, and has forged ahead on his own.

14:02 EDT   
For those of you trying to access live updates from our WAP service, don't forget to use the link live9.cyclingnews.com/wap!

14:09 EDT    50km/103km to go
Rapinski has opened up a very big gap indeed - two minutes as he head up to the first intermediate sprint of the day in Zebulon. His team is setting pace on the front of the peloton behind.

14:14 EDT   
The results of the first intermediate sprint are in: of course Rapinski took first, and in the field behind, Emile Abraham (Priority Health) went across ahead of Andrea Tonti (Quick Step). Abraham said at the start that he's looking forward to the sprint. He said he comes around well April or May, so he's hoping for a stage win, and will key off of the other sprinter's teams, relying on his team to get him in a good position for the sprint. Seems to be working so far.

14:20 EDT    58km/95km to go
The stranglehold of Navigators on the front of the peloton has been broken and four riders have gone clear. Daniele Contrini (Tinkoff Credit Systems), Doug Ollerenshaw (Health Net), Ben Day (Navigators Insurance), Mike Sayers (BMC) are on their way across the gap to Rapinski.
Matt Shriver (Jittery Joe's) is chasing behind these four at about 20 seconds.

14:24 EDT   
Other names of note on the start list here in Georgia are Discovery Channel's Tom Danielson, and George Hincapie, who is making his return to racing after breaking a wrist in the Tour of California.

14:27 EDT   
Also out there on the road is Rubens Bertogliati, the winner of a stage in the 2002 Tour de France, riding for Saunier Duval, and his team-mate, David Millar. Millar is another rider whose career was nearly ended because of doping, but now he's part of an antidoping movement out of Great Britain called "100% Me", which is working to educate athletes on how to care for themselves and perform at a top level without resorting to taking banned substances.

14:32 EDT    68km/85km to go
The field also contains the strongest non-ProTour riders in the US. Priority Health has a strong team, with Ben-Jacques Maynes already having shown his talents in the Tour of California, where he was denied taking over the leader's jersey by the officials decision to award the same time to all the crash victims on the stage into Santa Rosa. Maynes was the highest placed GC rider to avoid the wreck, and would have loved to wear the jersey into his home town of San Jose...

14:35 EDT   
The riders are approaching the second intermediate sprint, in Barnesville...

14:37 EDT    72km/81km to go
Rapinski takes the sprint, he's now 35 seconds ahead the group of four chasers
Daniele Contrini (Tinkoff Credit Systems) takes second in the sprint ahead of Doug Ollerenshaw (Health Net).

14:41 EDT    75km/78km to go
Rapinski has decided to sit up and wait for the group of four, which is towing along his team-mate Ben Day. Day has gotten a free ride up to the leader thanks to the rule of team tactics. But now the five will all work together to keep this break clear.

14:46 EDT   
So now the race situation mirrors one that has played out over and over again this season, and while it might seem a bit repetitive, the 'early breakaway doomed to fail' is a necessary survival tactic for a 'hors categorie' stage race. Having a team-mate in the break means the rest of the squad is allowed to sit back and relax, and not do much work.

However, the breakaway might just succeed - because of the strong tailwind, the peloton isn't getting much of an advantage over the leaders.

14:55 EDT    84km/69km to go
The riders are now in Forsyth, and have an astonishing eight minutes over the peloton! The five leaders are working smoothly together now, and have a strong cross-tailwind.

14:57 EDT   
Health Net will be happy with Doug Ollerenshaw's chances in this break - the man from Portland is a very good criterium rider, and will be able to handle the finishing circuits with no problem. Mike Sayers is another tough guy, and at 36 years of age, he's got plenty of experience to help him along.

14:59 EDT   
Contrini is no weakling either, the Italian won a stage of the Tour de Suisse last year, and was second in a stage of Tirreno-Adriatico earlier this year. But they'll all be subjected to attacks by the Navigator's duo, Day and Rapinski.

15:02 EDT   
Poor Matt Shriver is still in no man's land... that's a tough place to be. He's got almost five minutes on the peloton, but is still over three minutes behind the leaders. As he winds through these twisty, rolling country roads, he's got nobody to talk to and nothing to do except push along and listen to his own thoughts... and maybe his director's voice on his earpiece.

15:03 EDT   
The leaders have made it through the third intermediate sprint of the day, and are still rolling through, working together and not really contesting that sprint. Daniele Contrini (Tinkoff Credit Systems) want across first ahead of Viktor Rapinski (Navigators Insurance) and Ben Day (Navigators Insurance)

15:07 EDT    93km/60km to go
The peloton has closed the gap down to just over 6'30, and Shriver is still in no man's land, 4'10 behind the leaders.

15:13 EDT    100km/53km to go
Shriver has finally given up and gone back to the peloton, and with 100km covered in just over two hours(!!) this has been a wickedly fast race so far. The break is hovering just below seven minutes in front, but the chase will come soon. There are plenty of sprinters in the bunch wanting to stretch their legs in Macon.

15:17 EDT   
The leaders will soon pass by Lake Juliette, a man-made resevoir that's a favorite fishing spot in these parts...

15:26 EDT   
While the start of the stage is new this year, the finishing circuits in Macon are the same as the past three years. The riders will have four laps in Macon, including a leg breaking short climb, a cobbled section, and a bunch of turns, the last of which is about 250m before the finish.

Should the race come back together, positioning will be key for the sprinters. But should this breakaway succeed, the race will be decided on tactics. With strong winds on the circuit, the riders will be going from headwind to tailwind, and will have to be very careful about when and where they attack or start their sprint.

15:34 EDT    116km/37km to go
The gap is coming down a little bit now - down to 6'10 now.

At the finish in Macon, the women's race has finished, and Erica Allar (Team Fuji) beat Tina Pic (Colavita) and Shannon Hutchison. She opened up the sprint really early - 400m to go out of the last turn, and the sprinters, according to Pic "were caught with their pants down."

15:36 EDT   
So the men should take note - jumping early appears to work on this finish in Macon if the women's race is any indication...

15:38 EDT    117km/36km to go
Back in the peloton, Saunier Duval has put a man on the front, and he's trailed by three Discovery Channel riders and then some Slipstream guys. They've brought the break back only five seconds since the last update, so they're not panicking yet.

15:41 EDT    118km/35km to go
Just to recap, the situation is this: Viktor Rapinski (Navigators Insurance), Daniele Contrini (Tinkoff Credit Systems), Doug Ollerenshaw (Health Net), Ben Day (Navigators Insurance) and Mike Sayers (BMC) have a six minute advantage over the Saunier Duval/Discovery led peloton. Rapinski started the break by attacking an earlier move, and spent the better part of the first half of the race alone up front.

He was then joined by Contrini, Ollerenshaw and Sayers, who towed Day along. Now Day is doing a good portion of the work up front, as the breakaway passes by the Lake Juliette resevoir.

15:47 EDT    123km/30km to go
With just 30km remaining, the gap is not coming down very much, and all of Doug Ollerenshaw's friends and fans in Portland have to be on the edge of their seats, cheering for the Health Net rider in this break.

15:50 EDT    125km/28km to go
The Discovery Channel boys are starting to string out the peloton now, and (sorry Portland) the gap is starting to fall more quickly now. It's down to 4'50...

15:51 EDT   
There's still no sight of the Predictor-Lotto or Toyota-United teams at the front. It's still Discovery, Slipstream and Saunier Duval - basically all the teams with GC hopes. The sprinters teams will take over as they near the finishing circuits.

15:55 EDT    125km/28km to go
The gap is holding steady at 4'50 - can the group of five stay away??? It will be a nail-biting chase to be sure.

And with that, it's time for 'Guess the Catch'! Send in your guesses to commentator@cyclingnews.com telling which kilometre (to go) the peloton catches this breakaway.

15:58 EDT    128km/25km to go
The riders will do three finishing circuits of 4.1km each, and the loop has a hill, followed by a tricky descent, and a hard 90-degree right turn followed by a hard left with just 250m to go. It's basically a two-block sprint.

With 25km to go, the gap has come down slightly to 4'23.

16:00 EDT    130km/23km to go
We have lots of guesses for 4km to go for the catch. It really does appear that it could go that late. The gap has come down to 3'55 now with 23km to go.

16:03 EDT    133km/20km to go
It appears that all the cyclists in Portland have taken a long lunch to follow the exploits of their boy Douggie. His break's gap is still 3'55 with 20km to go, and the Navigators pair doing a good deal of work to make this stick.

16:05 EDT    134km/19km to go
The peloton is in full flight now, as they head nearly due South towards Macon. They'll enter the town in a few more kilometres, and then hit the circuits with that hill, but right now it's pretty much flat to downhill as the gap descends to 3'20.

16:07 EDT    136km/17km to go
The gap is falling falling falling now, just 3'05!

16:09 EDT   
As the lead break enters Macon, poor Rapinski gets dropped on the cobbled climb, and the rest of the break forges on ahead without him...

16:09 EDT   
Contrini is driving the break, and there's a crash in the peloton!

16:11 EDT    139km/14km to go
No word on who was involved in that crash, but Rapinski is 25 seconds behind the break as Contrini continues to drive the break. No word on the gap to the peloton, but the crash surely has disrupted the chase.

16:12 EDT    141km/12km to go
The leaders are approaching the finish line with three laps to go, Rapinski is losing ground now...

16:14 EDT    143km/10km to go
Just over two minutes to the peloton for the four, and 1'10 for Rapinski to the field.

16:15 EDT    144km/9km to go
Correction - 2'50 seconds for the group of four to the peloton!

16:16 EDT   
The peloton has come through the finish line with three to go and 2'40 down on the leaders.

16:17 EDT   
Toyota United has taken over the chase, and the sprinters teams are taking over! The chase is on, and the leaders are coming into two to go! This is going to be a close one!

16:19 EDT    144.8km/8.2km to go
Contrini has attacked the break - the Italian from Tinkoff comes through with two laps to go with a small lead over his breakaway companions.

16:20 EDT   
Behind the leaders, Chris Wherry is driving the chase for his sprinter Ivan Dominguez.

16:21 EDT   
The peloton comes through with two to go, and Toyota is still on the front, along with a Slipstream rider. Toyota has four up there, and they've caught Rapinski...

16:22 EDT   
The trio of Sayers, Day and Ollerenshaw are keeping Contrini in sight, but the seasoned Italian is digging deep on the climb...

16:23 EDT    148.9km/4.1km to go
With one to go, Contrini is holding his gap, and Day and Ollerenshaw are working together - but where is Mike Sayers?

16:25 EDT    149.5km/3.5km to go
25 seconds to the Day/Ollerenshaw chase, and Contrini has his head down, driving it in these final kilometres... with nearly a minute to the peloton, he could stay clear.

16:26 EDT    150km/3km to go
The gap to the peloton is 1'20! This group could very well stay away, and Contrini is concentrated on the five feet of pavement in front of him, in the drops - powering it as hard as he can... he's coming up to the lower part of the final climb now.

16:27 EDT   
Contrini is out of the saddle driving it up this climb as Sayers comes through 1'35 behind with one to go, just 20 seconds ahead of the peloton led by Cesar Grajales.

16:28 EDT    150.5km/2.5km to go
Contrini seems to have this one wrapped up - he's got a big gap on Ollerenshaw and Day, and Sayers is being caught by the bunch.

16:29 EDT    151km/2km to go
Contrini is over the top and now on the descent, as the chasing duo are over the hill behind, but not making any progress...

16:30 EDT    151.5km/1.5km to go
Contrini can see the 1km to go sign in the distance - and the peloton behind is in pieces - riders strung out all over the circuit because of that crash.

16:31 EDT    152km/1km to go
Saunier Duval is attacking out of the peloton, but is covered by the Navigators... the chasers are more than 30 seconds behind, and Contrini is starting to relax.

16:31 EDT    152.4km/0.6km to go
Contrini has it in the bag - he's got it and takes the right turn...

16:31 EDT   
Contrini has plenty of time to celebrate - he waves back to his team car, and then puts both hands up as he crosses the line to win the first stage!

16:32 EDT   
Day and Ollerenshaw are sprinting right behind...

16:32 EDT   
And the boy from Portland takes second! Day is about 5 seconds behind.

16:35 EDT   
For once, the early break succeeds, and the peloton is left to fight for scraps.

16:40 EDT   
In the sprint from the field, it was Ryder Hesjedal (Health Net) coming in ahead of Ivan Dominguez (Toyota-United), Karl Menzies (Health Net), Sergey Lagutin (Navigators Insurance), Ciaran Power (Navigators Insurance), Juan José Haedo (Team CSC) and Alessandro Proni (Quick Step)...

Thanks everyone for reading! Be sure to check back for full results, report and photos later this evening.

Provisional Results

1 Daniele Contrini (Ita) Tinkoff Credit Systems
2 Doug Ollerenshaw (USA) Health Net presented by Maxxis
3 Ben Day (Aus) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team
4 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Health Net presented by Maxxis
5 Ivan Dominguez (Cub) Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team
6 Karl Menzies (Aus) Health Net presented by Maxxis
7 Sergey Lagutin (Uzb) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team
8 Ciaran Power (Irl) Navigators Insurance Cycling Team
9 Juan José Haedo (Arg) Team CSC
10 Alessandro Proni (Ita) Quick Step - Innergetic

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