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Tour de Georgia - 2.HC
USA, April 21-27, 2008
Stage 5 - April 25: Suwanee - Dahlonega, 133.4mi/214.7km
Complete live report
Live commentary by Laura Weislo with reporting from Mark Zalewski and Kirsten Robbins in Dahlonega, Georgia
16:39 EDT Join us Friday for the fifth stage of the Tour de Georgia presented by AT&T. The race will hit the hills on its way from Suwanee to Dahlonega - three category three climbs to be exact. With just one sprint on the 133.4 mile journey, it will be a day for the skinny climbers and breakaway artists to strut their stuff.
10:09 EDT Good morning and welcome back to another gorgeous Georgia day. The skies in Suwanee are blue now, but might start to cloud up before the riders hit the three category three climbs they face along the way to Dahlonega today.
10:14 EDT We've got through the neutral circuit and now there is an immediate attack - Bissell and Marco Polo are off the front.
10:19 EDT Mark Zalewski spoke with our yellow jersey Greg Henderson this morning, and he thinks he can stay in the overall lead today, but it will depend on the final climb. It's so close to the finish that he said it will be fast and hard, but if he makes it over the top with the bunch he has a good chance at the win.
10:20 EDT 3mi/130.4mi to go The attack was from Leon van Bon (GE Marco Polo Trek) and Teddy King (Bissell). They've got Matthew Shriver (Jittery Joe's) chasing after them and have opened a nice gap on the field.
10:22 EDT Shriver sat up as they passed by the John's Creek Elementary school, and is now absorbed by the field. Van Bon and King are opening up the gap to 40 seconds now...
Matthew Crane (Health Net p/b Maxxis), Dominique Rollin (Toyota - United) and Jared Barrilleaux (Jittery Joe's) are now trying to go across to the front, but the gap is coming down - just 30 seconds now.
10:27 EDT It doesn't look like this move is going to last. Our intrepid reporter Mark Zalewski walked into the Symmetrics camp this morning wearing his "I love Canadians" shirt and got some info out of Eric Wohlberg - it's nice to butter up the riders if you want good quotes. Wohlberg explained that the breaks that have gone were only because of crashes or nature breaks - that the ProTour teams are working to keep the race together and it's really difficult to get a break established.
The move has come back and now a new one has countered. Rhys Pollock (GE Trek - Marco Polo), Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner) and Michael Creed (Rock Racing) attack, then Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell) and Kari Menzies (Health Net p/b Maxxis) try to join them.
10:29 EDT 8mi/125.4mi to go There is a sprint coming up at mile 16.4 - it is our only intermediate sprint of the day, so the teams interested in the points jersey will likely bring back this move quickly.
10:32 EDT 9mi/124.4mi to go Ivan Stevic (Toyota - United) has a dig to try to get across to the five men up front, who are holding a 20 second gap, but the field isn't having any of that. He's quickly brought back.
10:33 EDT The reaction to Stevic from the field reduced the gap to our five out front - now it's just 15 seconds and dropping...
10:34 EDT 10mi/123.4mi to go The field is strung out single file, and the break is just in front - as they are caught, Krauss counters his own move and gets a little gap.
10:36 EDT 11mi/122.4mi to go Krauss doesn't have the legs to withstand the pace of this peloton by himself, and is brought back to the field. But we have yet another counter-attack - this is some very aggressive racing for the longest stage!
10:38 EDT This is a good move: Jeremy Powers (Jelly Belly), Tom Zirbel (Bissell) and Andrey Mizurov (Astana). Two of these men were dropped from the TTT early on and did not ride as hard as the rest of the team, so it could be promising. Zirbel had a mechanical and Mizurov couldn't keep up with Leipheimer's rabid pace on the hill yesterday. They open up a ten second gap as they speed along the Ronald Reagan Highway (this is a red state, folks!).
10:40 EDT Interesting! We have a Team High Road rider bridging across - this could be the move of the day or just Greipel going for the points at the sprint which comes in 5km.
10:42 EDT Greipel moved up into second overall with the team's performance yesterday, and is 15 seconds behind Henderson. The former ProTour leader had an excellent Tour Down Under and is feeling fit again after a short illness.
10:44 EDT 16mi/117.4mi to go Greipel won't quite make it to the leaders before the sprint - it's a very fast dash to the line downhill...
10:46 EDT 17mi/116.4mi to go
There's a nice crowd in the town of Cumming just after the line, where the sprint results are as follows:
10:48 EDT 18mi/115.4mi to go
Greipel gave up on trying to bridge when he knew he couldn't make it in time for the sprint, and has gone back to the field. Our KOM leader Frank Pipp (Health Net p/b Maxxis) has a flat tire.
10:50 EDT The three up front are riding like they have motors, which is more than we can say for one of the television camera bikes. It's broken down and won't be following the race any more today... Rollin and Pinfold have also broken down, perhaps in spirit, as they did not make the bridge and are back in the field.
10:52 EDT 19mi/114.4mi to go It's apparent that we're heading for some hills today - three cat. 3 climbs to be precise. The roads are already rolling up and down, and it's a refreshing change from the dead flat highways of the first three stages.
10:55 EDT 21mi/112.4mi to go
The break is fading now, their gap dropping steadily. It would be a long, long day for the break if they succeeded - more than 100 miles to go still - but it's not looking good.
10:58 EDT Last night the teams stayed at a new resort on Lake Lanier, which is near the start town of Suwanee. According to our diarist, Rory Sutherland, the internet was cut to the island as well as the phone lines yesterday. Disaster of disasters, this meant our photos and report were delayed somewhat, and all the riders were really, really bored without the internet!
11:04 EDT 25mi/108.4mi to go The break is fading now as we head through some lovely winding and tree-lined roads. Down to just ten seconds and dropping. However, the three men got a nice prize with the sprint - especially for Jelly Belly who has had a very good Tour de Georgia so far.
11:08 EDT 27mi/106.4mi to go Taylor Tolleson (BMC Racing Team) has some bad luck - he has a mechanical. The California team hasn't had as much luck getting into the breakaways as they had at Tour of California, but not for lack of trying. They like to race aggressively, so we'll probably be seeing a bit of them today. It's a nice day for a breakaway - the many twists and turns allow riders to get out of sight quickly.
11:12 EDT 30mi/103.4mi to go The gap is holding steady now at 15 seconds for our three leaders. The chase isn't too urgent just yet. We've got the feed zone coming up in 15 miles, and then the first KOM is at mile 62 - or 100km in for those who aren't in the USA and actually use the metric system.
We've now got a reaction coming from the peloton - three riders have escaped and are trying to bridge: Andrew Randell (Symmetrics) and Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly) took off and sprinter Emile Abraham (Team Type 1) joined them.
11:15 EDT We're not sure what's going on with BMC today. David Galvin is also having a mechanical. Not only that, but the Health Net team car is broken down! Technology is not cooperating with the racers today.
11:16 EDT The fact that the Health Net car is dead on the side of the road is very bad news for the riders - apparently the Health Net car rear-ended the BMC team car and that's why it's dead. Ooops! But that also means the Health Net boys are without support because that was the only car they had in the caravan!
The break is getting caught, and now Randell tries again - counters the move and is followed by Mike Sayers (BMC Racing Team) with Kirk O'Bee (Health Net p/b Maxxis) trying to get across.
11:21 EDT 34mi/99.4mi to go
Looks like Galvin (BMC) is having a bio-mechanical... he's been dropped by the peloton and is nearly at the broom wagon.
11:23 EDT That move with Sayers was caught, and immediately another group went clear. Cameron Evans (Symmetrics), Edward King (Bissell), Tim Johnson (Health Net p/b Maxxis) and Valery Kobzarenko (Team Type 1) continue the trend of domestic teams trying to ride for stage glory. Teddy King is up there for the second time today.
11:26 EDT This break could be The One. They opened up 40 seconds quickly and are now at 1'05!
11:30 EDT 38mi/95.4mi to go The gap is up to 1'45 now. Looks like the field decided that this is an acceptable composition for the break. Tim Johnson won't have a team car to hand him bottles, but it's likely that there will be neutral support, and as long as he does his share of work, we're quite sure that the other teams in the break will help him out with a bottle. He'll also get a bag at the feed zone, so it shouldn't be a big problem.
Yep, this is the move of the day, and Cam Evans, Ted King, Tim Johnson and Valery Kobzarenko are your four stars of the stage who will try to outwit the calculations of the peloton. Oh, they may get seven or eight minutes, but the ProTour teams won't let them get so much time that they can't easily take it back. But you can always expect the unexpected, so who knows? They might get lucky today.
11:35 EDT There is some rain on the horizon today, and the riders could get a refreshing sprinkle or two on the first climb of the day at km 100 or more likely at Woody Gap at km 174. At the moment, the showers are light and scattered, but the chance for rain increases as the day goes along.
11:42 EDT 43mi/90.4mi to go
A little bit about our men up front. Cam Evans (Symmetrics) is the current Canadian Road champion. Tim Johnson is the US Cyclocross champion. They've now got 4'20 on the field. Johnson has a lot of experience, having once raced in Europe with Saunier Duval, and he's the one cracking the whip on these guys and getting them organized. It's working!
11:48 EDT At the feed zone, the break has gained over seven minutes (!!) on the peloton. That's quite a nice chunk of time, so we're guessing we'll have a lot to say about these four guys before the day is over.
11:50 EDT The least known to the US audiences in the break is probably Team Type 1's Valeriy Kobzarenko. He's "a three-time Olympian for his native country of Ukraine, ... a past national road race champion (1997). He also has a silver medal from his spot on the Ukrainian team pursuit squad at the 1998 World Championships." according to the team's web site. He's 31 years old.
We got a bit more information on the Ukrainian in the break from his director Ed Beamon. Kirsten Robbins found out that Kobzarenko targeted this stage for a breakaway - he came and rode the course a couple times earlier this month, and made it his plan to get away.
The lanky rider from Bissell, Edward "Ted" King, did the Tour of California in February, and it was the plan to get him into a breakaway today. Kirsten Robbins spoke with his team-mate Aaron Olson, who predicted Ted King will go up the road - he's been riding strong and is the team's best bet for the break. Ted famously snapped pictures from inside the ToC peloton with his cell phone.
12:00 EDT 52mi/81.4mi to go The break is now over ten minutes! Tim Johnson is really enjoying his time off the front, and gave a wink as he passed by on the climb. His Health Net car went by with the steering wheel all duct-taped up to hold the air bag out of the way. The car itself didn't look too bad, but with the air bags out we're sure it's a challenge to drive.
12:04 EDT By all accounts, the four guys in this break are all "really nice guys". During Tour of California, Ted King was battling with George Hincapie for "most loved rider". Tim Johnson is truly one of the most personable riders we've met, while our commentator box is filling up with compliments about Kobzarenko. No word on Evans, but he's Canadian - and aren't all Canadians nice guys?
12:10 EDT 55mi/78.4mi to go
So far the weather is holding, and the skies are still about half blue, half big puffy clouds. The temperatures are perfect for bike racing - 73F/22C. And now that the break is way, way up the road - 11'05 now - High Road has assumed the position at the front of the peloton. They're getting some help from Astana.
12:14 EDT So we must mention that Cameron Evans was the rider who beat one Oscar Sevilla in the San Dimas Stage Race in California last month. It was a fantastic performance by the Canadian, who escaped in the final stage criterium and got just enough time to finish one second ahead of Sevilla on GC.
12:16 EDT Next to Cam Evans on the podium in San Dimas was Ted King - he won the mountains jersey in that race.
Astana has taken over the chase in the peloton now, trying to keep this break at a reasonable distance so that Leipheimer can strut his stuff on Brasstown Bald and take home the overall GC.
12:25 EDT 59mi/74.4mi to go The leaders are now 5km from the KOM, and at category three there are points for all four of the riders in the break plus one from the field. Whoever takes first will strip Health Net's Frank Pipp of that mountains jersey. We're betting Tim Johnson tries to keep it in the family.
12:28 EDT On a completely different note, the 20 Australian riders might be interested in the Kangaroo Conservation Center which is located east of the first KOM just about ten miles away. It's "America's Aussie Adventure"!
12:30 EDT We're waiting for word on the KOM order of the breakaway, but back in the field Victor Hugo Pena (Rock Racing) has attacked for the final point available. Up until this point, Slipstream had been at the front setting pace.
12:33 EDT Pena is continuing to ride, and is holding about ten seconds on the field which is now single file and slithering like a snake back and forth across the road. That's peloton body language for "I'm not going to chase, you chase!" or "pull through you #$*&(@)(#*!!!"
12:35 EDT 63.5mi/69.9mi to go The field is now 5km to go to the KOM with Pena maintaining his gap. The peloton is 12 minutes behind our four leaders, who are now past the KOM. The first climb was "Burnt Mountain" and now the next one, Woody Gap, comes at mile 108.4.
12:39 EDT 64mi/69.4mi to go
Before we get a flood of emails, we had a miscommunication there. The leaders are over the first KOM. Looked like Kobzarenko was sprinting for the maximum points but we will have to wait for the results.
12:42 EDT While we wait for the results of the KOM at Burnt Mountain, we'll give another acknowledgment to the many Australians and our Kiwi leader here at Tour de Georgia. Anzac day has just wrapped up down under. That's a major national day of commemoration for the 60,000 Australians and 18,000 New Zealanders who died during the first world war. Watch the movie Gallipoli to find out why this is such an important day.
12:49 EDT Henk Vogels (Toyota - United) has abandoned the race, so that's one Aussie down. The results of the KOM are unofficially Kobzarenko, King, Evans, then Johnson. No word on who picked up the last point from the field.
12:52 EDT To our knowledge, this is the biggest gap a breakaway has had in this stage of the Tour de Georgia. Not counting the nearly 30 minutes taken by the break in last year's stage three, this is a novel scenario for the Dahlonega stage. However, the field is quite strong this year, and even with 12 minutes there is plenty of time for the chase.
Official results of KOM#1:
12:59 EDT 70mi/63.4mi to go The gap is down to ten minutes now, thanks in part to the descent the peloton was on while the break was on flatter roads. Now that we've passed the halfway point of the stage, it's time to break out the bored... errr... board games. Anyone want to play "guess the catch"? Email email@example.com with your guesses as to when the break will be caught, if at all. Give miles and tenths and we'll put your name in the live commentary if you're right!
13:02 EDT We're expecting the gap to be very small at the line if this break doesn't get caught. Not to ruin any fun for our readers, but there are no ProTour teams represented at the front. Last year, Discovery, Quick Step, CSC and Saunier Duval were all represented. Slipstream had its rider in there, as did BMC and Health Net, so there wasn't much impetus behind a chase even though the big GC names weren't up front. This year is quite different.
13:06 EDT 74mi/59.4mi to go
We've had an interesting situation develop between the break and the field. A truck hauling manure (not sure if it's cow or horse manure, sorry) pulled onto the course in the gap between the two parts of the race. So the field was experiencing quite an odor as the manure wafted its scent over the riders.
13:11 EDT 77mi/56.4mi to go
The pace is picking up in the bunch, and the gap fell quite a bit in the last few miles. It just went under nine minutes - 8'55 at the moment. The terrain has taken its toll on Kirk O'Bee (Health Net p/b Maxxis), who abandoned the race. The next victim will likely be sprinter Serguei Koudentsov (GE Trek - Marco Polo) who is hovering just in front of the broom wagon.
13:17 EDT 80mi/53.4mi to go We've heard reports of some sprinkles on Woody Gap, our next KOM of the day. The riders still have a long, long way to go to get there as it's not until mile 108. The last climb of the day could prove to be a launching pad for a strong rider from this break to slip away and sneak in a stage win. We're remembering the 2004 stage when Jason McCartney rode away to victory from the break and gave one of the best victory salutes we've ever seen.
The break is encountering a steep, nasty little uncategorized climb. There's a party of about 50 people Cartecay River Bicycle Club is out with some international flags and a nice picnic.
13:22 EDT Just to recap for those following on cell phones, our break is as follows: Cameron Evans (Symmetrics), Edward King (Bissell), Tim Johnson (Health Net p/b Maxxis) and Valery Kobzarenko (Team Type 1) have a gap of 8'20 on the field 80 miles into the race. In 28 miles, they'll hit the second KOM, Woody Gap, where it might be raining.
13:25 EDT The leaders are now 8'05 in front of the field and are enjoying some lovely scenery. Off in the woods are some trees in bloom, and give a nice contrast to the lush green mat of grass below the tall, slender trees. Up in the distance, the upcoming hills are visible against an increasingly cloudy sky.
13:27 EDT Tim Johnson is back at the mangled Health Net team car getting some food and bottles. He's sporting what appears to be three or four days worth of facial hair growth. Perhaps inspired by Dave Zabriskie's dashing moustache? Or did he just forget to pack a razor? We'll have to ask our diarist Rory Sutherland.
13:29 EDT 84mi/49.4mi to go
Back in the field that little leg breaker of a climb is causing some damage. Cody Stevenson (Jittery Joe's) and Emile Abraham (Team Type 1) have lost contact with the bunch. The chase is picking up steam, and the gap is down to 7'40 with just under 50 miles to go.
13:31 EDT Correction to the abandons, apparently O'Bee is still in the race. We'll try to get the right numbers for the two who dropped out. Word is the broom wagon is filling up, though. With two more climbs to go and several nasty little bumps before Woody Gap, we may see a couple more guys hit the showers, so to speak.
13:33 EDT The breakaway riders are out of the saddle powering up one of the many little rolling climbs on the way to Woody Gap. Tim Johnson has stowed his glasses in the vents of his helmet as the skies begin to darken up a tad. There are still pockets of blue sky ahead. Behind TJ, Ted King is looming large - much taller than the rest of the guys in the move.
13:36 EDT Off to the riders' left as they head toward the second KOM is the Chattahoochee National Forest, which tomorrow's stage will pass straight through. It's quite pastoral here - not even a power line in sight.
13:41 EDT 90mi/43.4mi to go The break still has 18 miles to Woody Gap, and are working steadily together. Back in the peloton, Astana, High Road and Slipstream have taken responsibility for the chasing, but the gap has leveled off just a bit - hovering around seven and a half minutes which is more manageable than the maximum 12'00 they had earlier.
13:43 EDT The break has reached a bit of a clearing now and can see mountains off in the distance. Somewhere in those mountains is the devilishly steep finishing climb of tomorrow's stage: Brasstown Bald.
13:46 EDT Tim Johnson really looks like he's enjoying himself in this breakaway. He's chewing on an energy bar, rocking and rolling in a relaxed way on the bike. Maybe he has a good song stuck in his head. King takes his bottle and dumps some of it on his head - they're generating quite a bit of heat with all the watts they're putting out.
13:49 EDT 94mi/39.4mi to go The sun has come back out for our breakaway and it looks like the bad weather will miss them at least for now. The field is now three miles behind the breakaway, seven minutes back.
13:53 EDT The boys in the break are having fun, it seems. They're sharing a joke - having a laugh or two. But all the while they're riding seriously. It is very important for a rider to separate what's going on in his legs from what's going on in his head. Otherwise the brain tends to try to stop the pain.
13:58 EDT We completely neglected to say that Tim Johnson is our virtual race leader at the moment. He began the day 56 seconds behind Greg Henderson. He's one second ahead of Ted King on GC, and 12 seconds ahead of Evans. Kobzarenko is 15 seconds in arrears. There are time bonuses on the finish line of 10, 6 and 4 seconds, so if all four stay together to the line, the new leader could be Johnson or King - depending on the gap to Henderson, of course.
14:00 EDT 97mi/36.4mi to go The break is in Union County now, just 11 miles from the KOM. They're encountering increasing undulations in the road - going up and down constantly on the way to Woody Gap.
14:03 EDT The road is running parallel to a mountain stream here, and its cool waters probably look quite tantalizing to the riders who have been working hard for 100km. King is dousing himself with water again, so despite the temperatures being mild, it feels hot when you're riding this hard.
14:04 EDT The KOM situation as it stands sees Ted King in the lead. He took 3 points in the first KOM behind Pipp, and then 5 points for second at today's first KOM. That gives him 8, Kobzarenko 6, then Pipp with 4.
14:10 EDT 102mi/31.4mi to go
We've passed the "century" mark, 100 miles into the race and the gap is now at 5'30 for our four men up front. The climb should be starting for our break soon - first there's a little warm up climb, a short descent, then the rise to Woody Gap begins.
14:15 EDT 103.5mi/29.9mi to go The break heads down the short descent before the climb, and then begin the climbing in earnest. Behind them, High Road has begun helping Astana, so we're anticipating the gap to continue to fall.
14:16 EDT 5'00 for the break and Kobzarenko is trying to encourage the break to keep going. King takes over, followed by Evans and Johnson. Did we mention we did receive confirmation that Evans is a Nice Guy? So we have Four Nice Guys up front who are hoping to hold off the Mean Peloton.
14:19 EDT There are several riders who were dropped from the peloton ages ago, and who are now 17 minutes behind the main bunch. Since it's pretty clear they won't make the time cut, the organizers are considering stopping them at the feed zone to let the roads re-open sooner.
14:19 EDT The leaders are approaching the KOM, and King and Kobzarenko will be watching each other - there are another 6 points at the top for first.
14:22 EDT It's 6,5,4,3,1 in points for the category three climb. The gap is five minutes, and the leaders are still looking strong. Tim Johnson is leading, and Kobzarenko is lurking at the back, waiting to make his move.
14:23 EDT Evans is on the front out of the saddle, and now Kobzarenko comes though and opens a little gap. Evans gets on his wheel and King and Johnson are struggling to maintain the pace.
14:24 EDT Johnson closed down the gap, but was he trying to force King to do more work? Or is he beginning to fade? His wife, Lyne Bessette, wrote in to explain that his facial hair is growing just for her... Canadians love rugged looking manly men!
14:26 EDT 105.5mi/27.9mi to go The leaders are on a slight easing in the grade - a little flat part before they head back up. The gap is down to 3'50!
14:29 EDT We have news that Loh Sea Keong (GE Trek - Marco Polo), the rider who was dropped in the TTT yesterday, has abandoned. Our former yellow jersey Ivan Dominguez (Toyota United) is reportedly one of the riders in danger of being pulled.
14:29 EDT The leaders are still heading up, Evans at the front with 1km to the top.
14:30 EDT The gap was 3'50, and is now 3'30 - falling rapidly as High Road and Astana start flexing their muscles.
14:31 EDT King takes the lead with Kobzarenko on his wheel - we can tell the Ukrainian is getting ready to go - and now he does. Evans is on his wheel.
14:31 EDT King begins to sprint and now Johnson goes!
14:32 EDT King waits and then counters it - Johnson drops off and now it's a full on sprint.
14:32 EDT Evans goes ahead of King and Kobzarenko, with Johnson trailing behind!
14:33 EDT 109mi/24.4mi to go They'll have a technical descent now and the three are waiting for Johnson on the way down. Tim is a very talented bike handler, and he easily bombs his way back to his three new best friends.
14:36 EDT 110mi/23.4mi to go
Evans is leading on the descent, and now he pulls off and is waving for the team car. King takes over at the front now. The gap is continuing to fall - 2'50 now as the peloton makes its way up to the KOM.
14:38 EDT The Tour de Georgia has been fast and quite hard for an April race for many of the domestic riders. There have been plenty of riders struggling with the pace today, especially after the wickedly fast start. The officials have warned the teams that there will be no more 'turbo bottles' - where riders hang on a bit too long to the team car's water bottle hand up as the driver accelerates. They're facing disqualification now if they are caught.
14:40 EDT It's time for cat and mouse: the general trend of the profile is now downhill, but there are a few tiny climbs to break up the descending along the way before the last KOM at Crown Mtn just before the finish.
14:41 EDT 112mi/21.4mi to go And the yellow jersey is suffering! Greg Henderson has been dropped! Will High Road wait up? Or will they continue helping Astana chase?
14:42 EDT The break is going through some really tricky sections - the route takes a near 180 turn into a subdivision, then has two more hairpins before heading back to straighter roads. King takes the lead here, and opens up a gap on his breakaway companions, but they rejoin as the road straightens out.
14:44 EDT 114mi/19.4mi to go
The Team Type 1 car comes alongside to help Kobzarenko with a bottle. They're passing by some nice ranch land here with a caravan of golf carts having delivered the handful of fans to the road to watch the race go by.
14:46 EDT Dark clouds are gathering in the distance ahead of our breakaway, setting a foreboding mood. But the moto comes along with a ray of sunshine - the gap has gone back out to 4'00!
14:47 EDT It appears that the peloton is respecting the yellow jersey, former scratch race World Champion Greg Henderson. The trackie/sprinter suffered on Woody Gap, and is now working his way back up into the peloton.
14:51 EDT 117mi/16.4mi to go
The break has new motivation now, and despite some wind picking up they're back in the drops and powering along. It's 3'50 now and beginning to get quite dark. We saw some wet spots on the road a few miles back, so the riders will likely get wet before the day is out.
14:52 EDT 118mi/15.4mi to go
Evans gets some last minute bottles - feeding ends at the 20km to go point, we believe. Tim Johnson is on the front now setting a steady pace. His glasses are back in the helmet vents.
The group of riders who were dropped has some familiar names in it. Loh Sea Keong and Yan Dong Xing (GE Trek - Marco Polo), David Galvin (BMC Racing Team), Ivan Dominguez (Toyota - United), and Bryce Mead and Matt Rice (Jelly Belly) have been dropped and are in danger of being time cut.
14:57 EDT 120mi/13.4mi to go The leaders still have 2'55 as the rain begins to fall - it's a light sprinkle and will feel kind of nice for the leaders. They're still working together, but they've lost 35 seconds in one mile. That's not good - we're guessing Henderson is back in the peloton and High Road has started to help the chase, but that's just a guess.
14:59 EDT 120.9mi/12.5mi to go The leaders have 20km to go now and are starting to feel the pressure - they're hammering on the descents and then getting out of the saddle on the uphills as the rain begins to fall harder.
15:02 EDT 122mi/11.4mi to go The rain is already letting up and it's almost sunny at the finish. 2'20 for the leaders. They've got some tight little bends and turns in the final 10km - and this might give an advantage to someone who can, like Jason McCartney did in 2004, drop the rest of the riders and solo to victory. From the looks of it, King and Kobzarenko are still looking fresh enough for antics like that.
15:03 EDT Happy Birthday to Ian McCurdy, who is following our live coverage from LA. His friend Alyssa wishes him many happy returns.
15:05 EDT 124mi/9.4mi to go
Henderson is still off the back of the main group, so our guess was off. The gap is holding steady at 2'20 at the moment as the leaders get within the final 10 miles. Farrar is off the back with Hendy.
15:07 EDT The rain is falling again - it's on and off, but roads are quite wet under the breakaway riders' tires. We hope that it dries out on the other side of the final climb, because the run-in has a very tight turn in the final kilometer.
15:09 EDT The leaders pass a group of avid fans as they traverse some little hills. They're still a ways out from the final KOM, and the gap is now 1'55.
15:11 EDT 127.4mi/6mi to go Behind the leaders is the official's car, the four team cars for each rider in the break and then the Mavic neutral support along with some support with TV and photographers. They're coming into the 10km go point with 1'50!
15:13 EDT The leaders have gone through the rain and out into dry roads now, and Cam Evans leads the group. He has his poker face on - he's got elbows bent and his body is steady. There's no rocking and rolling of an exhausted rider going on with this Canadian. The Ukrainian Kobzarenko is still riding smoothly, but King is pulling faces now.
15:14 EDT King uses his size to open a gap on a tight right bend. 1'35 is the gap with 5km to the KOM.
15:15 EDT That wasn't an attack by King - they were being warned of the tight turn, but King wasn't worried and flew through the wide, sweeping bend. They re-form as a tight-knit foursome and continue working together.
15:15 EDT 1'20 now and they're hitting some steep grades here. The field is at the 5km to the KOM mark now and closing.
15:16 EDT The gap is falling quickly now - and we'll expect some fireworks from the field on the Crown Mountain climb!
15:17 EDT 130.4mi/3mi to go The leaders are on the base of the climb now with 1'10. 5km to go!
15:17 EDT Tyler Farrar (Slipstream) has fallen off the pace, and is now behind Henderson even.
15:18 EDT The last part of this climb kicks up to 15% - ouch! This is going to hurt our quartet who have been off the front for nearly 100 miles.
15:19 EDT The rain is gone, the roads are dry and now the follow cars are pulling off - that means the field is within a minute - here it comes!
15:20 EDT King leads as the gap falls to 1'00 even. 4 km to go to the finish, but one big wall to get over before they reach it.
15:21 EDT The leaders are sticking together - that's loyalty. Only 40" to the field and the commissaire passes the leader and moves on ahead. The motos in front of the field are visible behind!
15:21 EDT Evans is leading now, but we can see a group coming across as they hit the steeper part of the climb.
15:22 EDT 131.4mi/2mi to go 1km to the KOM and King takes over. They've got a switchback now, then a gradual climb.... Johnson goes!!!
15:23 EDT The rest have sat up! They're getting caught now..
15:23 EDT Johnson is giving this his all - he knows how to suffer, he races Cyclo-cross!!
15:24 EDT Oh dear, he's on the 15% and here's the field... we see some red jerseys up here, but now a TT1 rider goes!
15:24 EDT It's the KOM here - and the TT1 rider gets it.
15:24 EDT The field is broken into bits, with Astana well represented in the front and a few Slipstream riders, too.
15:25 EDT The descent is quite technical and then has a sharp turn inside the 1km to go.
15:25 EDT A Rock Racing rider has escaped!
15:25 EDT Wait, he might be dropped... ouch.
15:26 EDT Richard England (Bissell) is leading!
15:26 EDT England is pushing hard with 200m to go!
15:27 EDT And he's going to get it! Bissell gets the stage!
15:28 EDT England jumped before the final turn and took a huge victory for this domestic team. The field has blown apart on that run-in, but all the favourites were near the front, or so it seemed.
15:29 EDT That was one tough finale, with Aldape taking the KOM ahead of some big names - Julich, Hincapie, Leipheimer, Sevilla...
15:32 EDT Rory Sutherland took second, making it two Aussies on the podium on Anzac day, with Hincapie rounding out things in third. One of our readers had picked Andrew Pinfold of Symmetrics for the win, and we've got to give credit for that! He was 4th.
15:35 EDT We're guessing that Hincapie will take over the GC lead from his team-mate Henderson, but it's going to be very close. The Slipstream team was four seconds ahead of Hincapie, but he got four seconds at the finish.
15:36 EDT André Greipel was tied on time with the four Slipstream riders, while Hincapie pulled himself onto nearly the same time with that four second bonus.
15:36 EDT Wait - correction. He was 7 seconds behind Greipel.. Instead, it will be Trent Lowe (Slipstream) who will don yellow after crossing the line first in the team's winning time trial yesterday.
We'll conclude with our "guess the catch" winner. Anthony D. Orizotti of Alaska correctly chose the point just before the KOM for the catch. Great job!
Provisional 1 Richard England (Aus) Bissell Pro Cycling 2 Rory Sutherland (Aus) Health Net p/b Maxxis 3 George Hincapie (USA) Team High Road 4 Andrew Pinfold (Can) Symmetrics Cycling Team 5 Oscar Sevilla (Spa) Rock Racing 6 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Astana 7 Moises Aldape Chavez (Mex) Team Type 1 8 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC