Tour de Georgia - 2.HC
USA, April 16-22, 2007
Results & report
Stage 3 - April 18: Rome to Chattanooga, TN , 190.2km
Complete live report
By Sue George & Mark Zalewski
Greetings, everyone. We are here at the start in Rome, Georgia, preparing for
today's 118.2 mile (190.2 km) stage which finishes in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Skies are overcast at the moment, but temperatures are still reasonable. Some
racers are wearing armwarmers, but they will probably shed them at the start
of the race.
Before the start of the race today,
we asked George Hincapie how his wrist was doing. He said it bothered him a
little on first day, but it's been getting better ever since and racing here
is definitely not as hard on it as riding the cobbles in Belgium. Now, he's
working to build back his wrist's strength. Hincapie broke his wrist in the
Tour of California in February and has had to skip the Spring Classics in Europe
The race will start in about 3 minutes.
Today, they have a 1 mile (1.6 km) neutral section before the official start.
Hopefully, there won't be any crashes during today's neutral. Yesterday, a few
riders tangled up during neutral.
It's noon, and they are starting!
Today, we'll be generally heading north toward the finish.
We have officially started after the
1 km neutral. We take a quick turn and the race kicks off here in front of Floyd
The racers are going at 30 mph (48.2
kph), so we're not starting slow today. The first KOM today is at 19 miles (30.6
km) into the race. It's the first of four KOMs.
12:11 EDT 4km/186.2km to go
As we wind through
farm country headed toward bigger roads, we are joined by a special guest in
our car, Beth Seliga, CFO of Team Slipstream. Of course, we also still have
Grover as our mascot out in front, so give us a wave as you see us pass. Grover
got a bath this morning at the car wash - we had to get the bugs out of his
fur after all.
10 or 11 riders are off the front
12:15 EDT 9.6km/180.6km to go
It's actually nine
riders with a ten second gap. They are Kurt-Asle Arvesen (Team CSC), Kevin Seeldrayers
(Quick Step), Mauro Facci (Quick Step), Pavel Brutt (Tinkoff Credit Systems),
Danny Pate (Team Slipstream), Trent Wilson (Jittery Joe's), Gianni Meersman
(Discovery Channel), Christophe Brandt (Predictor-Lotto), and Kevin Seeldrayers
12:19 EDT 12.2km/178km to go
The pack is all
together again. With the first KOM coming up so soon, we'll probably see the
action continue. It's single file. We're on winding roads with sharp turns,
so it's a good place to get away. We've seen Quick Step on the front and now
BMC is up there, too.
Tinkoff is at the front of the field.
The wind is really calm today. The flags are just barely moving, and if anything
we've got a tailwind. Two Slipstream riders have moved to the front and a small
group of riders has a slight 50 m gap, but they aren't making much progress
to get away.
12:24 EDT 16km/174.2km to go
David McCann (Colavita/Sutter
Home) is solo slightly off the front. McCann is the Irish National Champion.
Two riders are trying to bridge: Michael Lange (Team Slipstream) and Kevin Seeldrayers
12:26 EDT 18.7km/171.5km to go
We've turned onto
a wide, 5-lane highway and it's coming back together. McCann looks over his
shoulder. Lang is not pulling through. They are caught. Many riders are counterattacking,
but no one is able to make anything stick.
12:29 EDT 20.6km/169.6km to go
Karl Menzies (Health
Net) and Valery Kobzarenko (Navigators Insurance) are attacking together. But
another rider is trying to bridge and it comes all back together again as the
pack heads down Huffaker Road.
12:35 EDT 25.6km/164.6km to go
We have 5 km to
go before the KOM. Two riders are away with a six second gap: Jeffry Louder
(Health Net) and Scott Zwizanski (Priority Health). 20 racers are chasing and
then the peloton is behind them.
12:42 EDT 29.5km/160.7km to go
We have a group
with a one minute advantage going into the KOM. The KOM climb kicks up early
on, then it flattens out until near the top, when it kicks up again. The climb
is winding and roughly 2.5km long. We've got about 20 spectators at the top
of the KOM.
12:43 EDT 30km/160.2km to go
Our group off the
front, as best we can tell at the moment, is Gianni Meersman (Discovery Channel),
Scott Zwizanski (Priority Health), Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval - Prodir),
Tyler Wren (Colavita/Sutter Home), Christian Vandevelde (Team CSC), Timothy
Johnson (Health Net), Evan Elken (Jittery Joe's), Janez Brajkovic (Discovery
Channel), Scott Nydam (BMC), Ciaran Power (Navigators Insurance), Ivan Santaromita
(Quick Step), David Canada Gracia (Saunier Duval - Prodir), Kevin Seeldrayers
(Quick Step), Jeffry Louder (Health Net), Lucas Euser (Team Slipstream), Cody
Stevenson (Jittery Joe's), Christian Vandevelde (Team CSC)
Preben Van Hecke
12:47 EDT 30.6km/159.6km to go
We had 13 riders
cresting together over the KOM. The top four were Jeffry Louder (Health Net),
Janez Brajkovic (Discovery Channel), Kevin Seeldrayers (Quick Step), and Lucas
Euser (Team Slipstream).
They are headed down a tricky descent, with
several switchback corners.
12:52 EDT 36km/154.2km to go
Our lead group has
55 seconds and includes Janez Brajkovic (Discovery Channel) , Gianni Meersman
(Discovery Channel), Christian Vandevelde (Team CSC), Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier
Duval - Prodir), David Canada Gracia (Saunier Duval - Prodir), Ivan Santaromita
(Quick Step), Kevin Seeldrayers (Quick Step), Timothy Johnson (Health Net),
Jeffry Louder (Health Net), Ciaran Power (Navigators Insurance), Lucas Euser
(Team Slipstream), Tyler Wren (Colavita/Sutter Home), Scott Nydam (BMC).
Next up is a sprint in Summerville, Georgia, at mile 49.9 (km 80.3). There is
only one sprint today, but four total KOMs.
12:56 EDT 43.5km/146.7km to go
The gap is now
50 seconds. Our lead group is a double rotating paceline. Everyone is taking
quick, short five to ten second pulls.
13:06 EDT 46.7km/143.5km to go
CSC and Navigators
are driving the break on what is relatively flat terrain on Big Texas Valley
Road running through farmland and past sheep.
Back in the peloton,
it's all Predictor - Lotto on the front with six riders leading the chase. We're
not quite sure why they're working so hard - it's early to work for a field
sprint. Six riders from Lotto.
It seems like the ProTour riders will
be looking to shed some excess from the peloton today. The four KOMs may help
them with that.
The gap is at 30 seconds and falling.
13:12 EDT 50km/140.2km to go
Quick Step is helping
Predictor Lotto chase the break. We're going through James Floyd State Park.
The gap is at 35 seconds.
Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins spoke
to Navigators' Sergey Lagutin this morning. Lagutin is the strongest rider on
the Navigators team, and he predicted that today's stage will come down to a
group of 20 after the climbing weeds out some weaker riders and non-climbers.
He believes he is the strongest sprinter out of the climbers that are at the
race. He's not a pure climber, but the climbing won't be selective enough today
to get rid of him, so he's aiming for a stage win.
13:24 EDT 61.5km/128.7km to go
The gap dropped
to 30 seconds, but it's increasing again. Now our lead group has worked their
advantage back up to two minutes.
One of the two Quick Step riders in
the break had a mechanical. It was either Ivan Santaromita and Kevin Seeldrayers.
We don't know which, but both dropped back to address the problem and then worked
their way together back up to the break.
Saunier Duval - Prodir team director
Matteo Alegri spoke with Kirsten Robbins this morning. He said the team is working
for two riders this week: Gilberto Simoni and David Millar. Millar is a favorite
to win the time trial, but Alegri said he's also climbing "better than ever
before," so it wouldn't surprise him if Millar could win the overall. With two
good cards to play, look for action from Saunier Duval in both the time trial
tomorrow and the on Brasstown Bald on Friday.
13:40 EDT 72km/118.2km to go
We're on Lick Skillet
Road. Predictor - Lotto must have stopped chasing because the gap has risen
to 4 minutes. The break riders are taking a slight break to eat. Christian Vandevelde
was having some fun with a photographer - giving him a view of what's for lunch.
Some team cars are coming up to the break for the first time today to support
The gap has grown again to 6:20. Tinkoff
is at the front of the peloton now.
We'll be spending some time on
Sloppy Floyd Lake Road and we can't help but notice how many times the word
"Floyd" has appeared in local place names today. Maybe that's why Floyd Landis
did so well last year when he won the overall? He'd have felt right at home.
13:53 EDT 80.3km/109.9km to go
The group just
went for the first sprint. Results are 1. Timothy Johnson (Health Net), 2. Kevin
Seeldrayers (Quick Step), 3. Ivan Santaromita (Quick Step). Some of them sprinted.
Ciaran Power (Navigators Insurance) went for the sprint first, but didn't get
it. Not all the racers in the break contested it - some chose instead to save
The gap is back down to 5:00. Health Net and Tinkoff
are on the front, but the pack isn't chasing too hard. Some are eating.
Tyler Hamilton is not among the three
Tinkoffs at the front of the peloton. The racers and fans today are enjoying
wind-less conditions. We passed by a nice crowd when we went through that last
sprint in Summerville. Next up on the docket is a KOM as we enter Walker County.
14:01 EDT 83.7km/106.5km to go
finishes in Chattanooga in Tennessee, one state to the north of Georgia. Chattanooga
is in the midst of undertaking an ambitious project to increase the amount of
mountain bike trails to 100 miles of singletrack within a 10 mile radius of
Chattanooga by 2010. The effort is being spearheaded by Chattanooga Area Singletrack
Our gap is holding fairly steady - it's at 4:10.
14:11 EDT 93.5km/96.7km to go
The gap is up to
9:50 with 5km to go until the KOM. The racers are going several minutes faster
than the fastest predicted schedule.
All the major teams are represented
in the break including Discovery. While it's not one of their team leaders Levi
Leiphimer or Thomas Danielson, it is Janez Brajkovic, so they won't chase to
bring him back. Brajkovic was good here last year, and has a good shot at winning,
so this could very well be the race-winning move.
In addition, teams
like CSC have Christian Vandevelde in the break, so they, too, have no reason
The major teams that aren't represented - the ones who
might help chase - are Toyota United, Priority Health, Tinkoff, and Jittery
Tim Johnson (Health Net) is leading
up the KOM. Lucas Euser is following (Slipstream). Then a Saunier Duval Rider
is coming in third. It's a gradual pitch - 6 to 10% at the most.
14:15 EDT 107.6km/82.6km to go
We're 1.5 km from
the top, and all 13 break riders are climbing together. The climb is smooth,
wide, and straight. Gap is up to 11 minutes.
14:21 EDT 109.3km/80.9km to go
They are going
for the KOM. Lucas Euser (Team Slipstream) is eating up the climb, Jeffry Louder
(Health Net) is behind him. Then Louder comes around in the last 50 meters to
take the KOM points.
Results are: 1. Jeffry Louder (Health Net),
2. Lucas Euser (Team Slipstream), 3. Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval - Prodir),
4. Scott Nydam (BMC)
A crowd of about 50 people greeted
racers at the KOM line. Racers were also serenaded by a community band. Louder
will pocket a bonus US$1500 for taking that KOM.
We're moving through big rolling hills
now in Cloudland, Georgia. Gilberto Simoni reported to us this morning that
he's feeling really good right now. He said he's here to race for a win in the
GC, and while yes, it is training for the Giro, it's not just training. He wants
to do well, too. Simoni predicted that today's climbs won't be selective enough
to completely shatter the peloton, but will whittle it down to maybe 40 people
riding together. Simoni also said he is time trialing well right now. He'll
get a chance to show us tomorrow.
14:38 EDT 106.2km/84km to go
The gap is still
growing. Now it's at an amazing 13:50. The break riders are taking turns leading
with Scott Nydam (BMC) at the front for now.
Tyler Wren's friends
from Philadelphia and New Jersey have emailed us to tell us they are rooting
for him and hoping today will be his breakout race. We'll be watching to see
how the Colavita/Sutter Home rider does today.
This morning, Scott Moninger (BMC)
told Cyclingnews' Mark Zalewsi that he's a little tired today. Moniger came
directly from Redlands Stage Race and didn't have much rest in between. He said
the first stage of this race on Monday was a blow-out-the-legs kind of a day,
but he's been feeling better every day. Moninger is not in our break, but his
teammate Scott Nydam is.
Italian Daniele Contrini Tinkoff Credit
Systems is in the leader's jersey today. Unlike many teams here who have eight
riders, Tinkoff only has six members here.
14:55 EDT 120km/70.2km to go
The break's lead
is now up to 17:20. We've got about 70 km to go. It seems as if the peloton
has given the race away today and that someone in this break will walk away
with the leader's jersey at the end of the stage.
15:04 EDT 120.7km/69.5km to go
The peloton has just finished a challenging descent with six hairpin curves.
The 180 degree turns were lined with hay bales for extra padding, but fortunately,
no one needed it.
Though strung out at the bottom of the descent, they are bunching
back up, now 18:25 behind the leaders. Judging by their relatively leisurely
pace, no one in the pack seems concered about the huge gap.
Looking at our GC results yesterday,
the highest placed rider in the break going into today's stage is Saunier Duval's
David Canada Gracia,and therefore he is the virtual leader on the road. Gracia
was sitting at 1:19 back after Stage 2. Six other break riders came just behind
him on the GC at 1:22 back, and all but one of the break riders were within
1:51 of the lead after yesterday.
Given the size of the gap, we can
only conclude that Tinkoff gave up defending their leader's jersey. Before the
stage, we asked Chris Wherry (Toyota United) about the extra work each Tinkoff
guys had to do to defend their leader.
"I think Tinkoff realizes
they only have six guys so they're doing all they can," said Wherry. The other
teams generally have eight riders. He added that his Toyota United team has
been working for field sprints that might yield stage wins while teams like
Discovery have been targeting the overall.
Wherry had predicted
that today's stage would not be a field sprint even though it's a new stage
course this year and few riders had scouted it. The last climb of the day (Burkhalter
Gap) is pretty brutal - it's a category three climb with KOM part-way up.
In the meantime, we'll have another KOM coming up fairly soon at km 144.9.
We're on the third of four KOMs today.
Johnson is setting pace followed by Nydam. Louder is near the front, being set
up by teammate Johnson. Brajekovic is up there, too. It's similar to second
KOM. Nice wide road and even grading (8%), but it's much longer, maybe 4 or
15:32 EDT 144.9km/45.3km to go
Tim Johnson won
the KOM. We're working on the other places - they were all sprinting for it.
15:37 EDT 148km/42.2km to go
Results from the
third KOM are as follows: 1. Timothy Johnson (Health Net), 2. Lucas Euser (Team
Slipstream), 3. Jeffry Louder (Health Net), 4. Scott Nydam (BMC)
Nydam's brother Trevor wrote in to tell us the Scott recently moved to Santa
Rosa, California, to the train with Levi Leipheimer. We'll see if it has paid
The time gap is so big that 6 or 7
miles (9.6 to 11.2 km) now separate the leaders and the peloton.
There is a tailwind, just a light breeze right now.
he's picking Janez Brajkovic (Discovery Channel) to win the overall, but we
think he's biased because they're both wearing blue.
15:44 EDT 150.8km/39.4km to go
The gap is up
The breakaway is coming up to a descent which is marked
with a "dangerous" sign. It's pretty smooth and wide road. It's beautiful all
After the descent, we'll have a little way to go before
we get to the final KOM of the day. #4 at Burkhalter Gap.
end of today's race, there will be no ciruits. The finish is similar to last
year's time trial finish on Riverfront Parkway.
15:48 EDT 157.7km/32.5km to go
Now we're getting
big switchbacks on the descent. The difference between these and the ones earlier
is that there is a longer distance between each of these, so they pick up more
speed and go faster into each one, making them more dangerous in general.
They are going at least 50 mph (80.4 kph) down them. Probably even more than
that at some points.
The break has made it down safely.
15:52 EDT 170km/20.2km to go
We are at the bottom
now between the two KOMs. We're soon to start the last KOM, which is 5km long.
The gap is holding at 23:10.
The break seems a little disorganized
at the moment. It looks like they are getting some last minute food and taking
some nature breaks.
Both Discovery riders are at the front of the
Tim Johnson just took over the pace
making and he's radioing back to the team car. They are climing an 8 to 10 %
grade. It's really straight and steady.
One of the Saunier Duval
riders is on Johnson's wheel.
No one is getting dropped yet, but
a few riders look like they are starting to struggling.
The group is still all together. Johnson
is on the front, followed by Louder. Discovery follows, then Saunier Duval.
It's kicking up again to about 10% and almost everyone is out of the saddle.
Vandevelde is coming up to Johnson.
Both Discovery riders are side by
side. There's one lone fan in this 2 km stretch running alongside the riders
waving a clapper.
One Colavita guy is near the back, struggling a
bit. It must be Tyler Wren. Both the Quick Step riders are near the back, too,
looking a little rough.
After the KOM, the racers will descend
almost to the end. The final, flat 3 km will be the same as the finish of the
time trial last year, right next to the river.
Tim Johnson is still setting the pace.
He spent some time in the ProTour for Saunier Duval a few years back, so he's
got a lot of experience among his domestic team members. He's been setting the
pace up the climbs all day today.
Vandevelde is tight on Johnson's
23 minutes is the gap. It's come down slightly.
One of the Saunier Duval guys has
attacked. He's being marked by another rider.
Looks like they are
are Kevin Seeldrayers (Quick Step) and Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval - Prodir).
They are 800 m from the KOM.
There are about 500 spectators. Many
are cyclists who rode up here.
The KOM is the top of a road with
a turn, but the course keeps rolling and generally going up afterward. It's
not like the cross the line and drop straight down.
The front of
the break is coming back together.
16:08 EDT 176.1km/14.1km to go
Tim Johnson, Jeff
Louder, Tyler Wren are off the back. Rubens Bertogliati and (Saunier Duval -
Prodir) and Kevin Seeldrayers (Quick Step) have a twelve second advantage over
the rest of the break.
KOM #4 Results: 1. Kevin Seeldrayers (Quick
Step), 2. Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval - Prodir), 3. Christian Vandevelde
(Team CSC), 4. Janez Brajkovic (Discovery Channel), 5. David Canada Gracia (Saunier
Duval - Prodir)
16:14 EDT 170.2km/20km to go
We still have our
two leaders at 12 seconds: Kevin Seeldrayers (Quick Step), Rubens Bertogliati
(Saunier Duval - Prodir). Then a group of 7 remaining breakaway riders follows.
We still have a bit more of descent to go down into Chattanooga.
Gianni Meersman (Discovery Channel)
is trying to bridge up.
16:16 EDT 172.2km/18km to go
Our leaders have
15 seconds. We're on some rolling hills before a big descent.
16:20 EDT 175.2km/15km to go
Our duo has 18 seconds
over six chasers after the seventh rider Scott Nydam (BMC) has dropped off the
16:21 EDT 176.2km/14km to go
The gap is 25 seconds
to the lead duo. Nydam has caught back up to our chasers.
has plenty of blind curves, off-camber descents. They just entered Walker County
and are entering Lookout Mountain.
16:25 EDT 180.2km/10km to go
Halfway down the
descent, we will pick up last year's time trial course, and the going gets a
Our lead duo of Kevin Seeldrayers (Quick Step) and
Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval - Prodir) had a 9 second gap. It's starting
to come back together.
When we get to the bottom, we have
5km of flat road. The break is at 8 seconds. They will not be able to hold it.
Expect the counterattacks to start soon.
A rider is down on the descent.
Ciaran Power (Navigators) has crashed.
He is up and rolling now.
It's all together again now, excepting
Powers. We have eight leaders now.
16:30 EDT 185.2km/5km to go
One rider has gotten
16:32 EDT 186.2km/4km to go
Jeffry Louder (Health
Net) is off the front at 12 seconds
16:33 EDT 187.2km/3km to go
Louder is going for
it solo off the front. This is his chance.
Louder is on his brakehoods and he's
driving it. He's not looking back. The gap is at 8 seconds. IT's coming down.
Vandevelde is chasing.
No, it's Scott Nydam who's chasing
Discovery passes Nydam.
Its Janez Brajkovic (Discovery Channel).
He passes Louder.
They are five seconds ahead of the chasers. Nyder
is back with the chasers.
The chasers have caught the leaders.
16:35 EDT 189.2km/1km to go
They're turning right.
There's another attack, it's single file. They are all across the road.
Discovery is on the front looking around. He's flanked by both Prodir riders
on the right and left.
Louder attacks with 700m to go
Prodir is tring to catch up. 400m
16:36 EDT 189.9km/0.3km to go
Louder has gap...
Gianni Meersman (Discovery Channel)
Gianni Meersman (Discovery Channel)
takes the win.
Everyone is now congratulating Meersman
on his win.
Meersman was at 7:51 after yesterday's
stage 2 in the GC, so we're not expecting him to add a yellow jersey to his
stage win today.
Cieran Powers did finish the race
after his crash. He just walked into medical after the finish under his own
We heard that he flipped up and over
Second and Third places today are
David Canada Gracia (Spa) Saunier Duval and Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Discovery.
The new overall leader is David Canada Gracia.
Health Net's Jeffry Louder (USA) takes
the KOM jersey after today, and teammate Timothy Johnson (USA) gets the most
aggressive rider award after steadily driving the break up most of today's climbs.
As a summary, our today's Stage 3
1 Gianni Meersman (Bel) Discovery Channel
2 David Canada Gracia (Spa) Saunier Duval
3 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Discovery.
General Classification after Stage 3
1 David Canada Gracia.
1 Jeffry Louder (USA) Health Net
1 Timothy Johnson (USA) Health Net
That wraps up our live coverage for
today. Grover said he has to go do some interviews. Please stay tuned to www.cyclingnews.com
for full results, a full report, and photos coming soon.
live coverage tomorrow for Stage 4's time trial at 11:00 AM. Racers will do
an individual time trial of 18.9 miles (30.4 km).
Thanks for joining
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