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Tour de Georgia - 2.HC

USA, April 21-27, 2008

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Stage 4 - April 24: Road Atlanta (TTT), 10mi/16.1km

Complete live report

Live coverage by Laura Weislo with reporting from Mark Zalewski and Kirsten Robbins in Braseltown, Georgia

15:22 EDT    Please join us on Thursday, April 24, for Stage 4 - the first ever Tour de Georgia team time trial in Braselton, Georgia. The stage starts at 1:00 pm EDT (local time) and will be conducted on the Road Atlanta race course.

12:45 EDT    Welcome back to Cyclingnews' live coverage of the 6th Tour de Georgia. We're at the Road Atlanta race course today and the 'Hindenberg IV' has a fabulous view of the 2.54 mile loop the riders will tackle today. Our photographer Jonathan Devich got to ride the course this morning on the motorcycle, and was like a kid on Christmas morning - this course is made for speed! It's a beautiful day here in Braselton, Georgia. The temperature is nearing 80F/26C and the skies are mostly sunny. Just a few puffy clouds lazing up overhead.

12:53 EDT    The organizers have made this a standard race bike only time trial. This means no aero bikes for the riders, but they aren't too worried about it because there is a nasty wall of a climb they must get up every lap. The Health Net team director Mike Tomayo seemed to think it will be easier to climb on a regular bike. The grade is estimated at 12% - not exactly the Mur de Huy but still quite a hard climb at approximately 500-600m in length. At any rate, the riders will all be on the same advantage/disadvantage when it comes to equipment, and the UCI officials are checking over our first starters' bikes to make sure of that.

12:54 EDT    The GE Marco Polo Trek team will be first off, followed by the Health Net-Maxxis squad. They'll be two minutes apart, and both teams will complete the four laps of the course before the next "heat" starts.

12:56 EDT    Despite the warm temperatures, the Health Net boys have chosen long-sleeved skinsuits for the race today. There isn't much wind to speak of today, and the high retaining walls that line the course plus the trees will shield the riders from any cross-winds. There might be a slight tailwind for the finish.

12:58 EDT    Heat two today will be the Bissell and Jittery Joe's teams, followed by Gerolsteiner and Team CSC at 1:42PM. Jelly Belly and Slipstream are next after that.

12:59 EDT    Health Net and Marco Polo are getting lined up now. They'll get their time on the fourth man across the line, so we might see some riders drop off the pace before the end. But really, the most efficient way is to keep as many riders together for as long as possible.

13:00 EDT    The stronger riders will take longer pulls, while the weaker or injured riders might take short pulls - just enough to give the rest of the guys a breather. But expect a couple riders to be dropped on the steep hill the last time up.

13:01 EDT    Marco Polo is off! And they're heading up the hill almost immediately. Health Net is on deck, sporting some fine looking Mavic Cosmic Carbones.

13:02 EDT    Health Net is now heading off for their time trial with Cyclingnews diarist Rory Sutherland leading the way in his most aggressive rider skinsuit.

13:04 EDT    Frank Pipp is up there in his King of the Mountains jersey, which is kind of a joke since he's known as a sprinter... but they get up and over the hill no problem and are on the twisty bit.

13:05 EDT    Health Net is choosing a rotating paceline of sorts - there aren't quite two lines, but riders are pulling through and then right off until they get to Rory, who takes a longer pull.

13:06 EDT    Marco Polo is keeping their men all together on the other side of the course, and go through lap one in 5'11.49. Their technique looks quite the same as Health Net's. Some are pulling through and peeling off immediately, while others stay up front longer. They're heading up the hill for the second time looking smooth.

13:07 EDT    This course is made for petit lemans auto racing and motorcycle races, so the turns are wide and sweeping - nothing too technical for a bike going about 1/5th as fast as the motorcycles might. But there is a fast descent to give the boys a bit of a break.

13:09 EDT    Health Net comes through in 5'09.01 - significantly faster than Marco Polo. They're heading up the hill now with Sutherland at the front. Pipp is in third wheel and we've got the banged up Correy Collier sitting on and not pulling through much.

13:10 EDT    Collier crashed along with Timmy Duggan, and had quite a deep gash on his leg. The cut went down to the bone (ouch ouch ouch!!) and he's very sore, according to his team director. He gets the brave soldier award for the day.

13:11 EDT    Macro Polo comes through in 10'21.16 - nearly an even split on the first lap. They're keeping a tight formation out on the course - all pulling through smoothly.

13:12 EDT    Fuyu Li is having a mechanical - bad luck for this Chinese rider who is one of the team's stronger climbers! He will lose time on GC!

13:13 EDT    He's back and chasing now, but the team is about 15 seconds up the road and pushing on. Health Net comes through in a 10'14.07.

13:15 EDT    Fuyu Li had a flat tire and now his Malaysian team-mate Loh Sea Keong is dropping back to help him. Li could lose quite a large chunk of time if left out there on his own.

13:16 EDT    Li rode last year for the Discovery Channel team, and if he's ProTour caliber, then he is a rider they will want to keep up on the GC. His team must be waiting for him.

13:17 EDT    15'45.55 for lap three for Marco Polo - that's a good 12 seconds slower than their last lap - but Li and Loh Sea aren't in sight of them. What a mess! Health Net on the other hand are still together looking smooth.

13:18 EDT    Collier is still at the back, struggling now, but his team is looking out for him - he's in an aero tuck on the descent and gets back on Sutherland's wheel, but he's yo-yo-ing.

13:19 EDT    15'21.23 for Health Net and Collier fought his way back to Pipp's wheel now. The Marco Polo team isn't going flat out - they are hoping for Li and Loh Sea to rejoin but it's not looking good. Bissell is getting lined up at the start line - the teams begin the time trial in pit row, and then finish on a separate chute.

13:20 EDT    The rest of the schedule is as follows:
3 13:20:00 Bissell Pro Cycling
4 13:22:00 The Jittery Joe:s Pro Cycling Team
5 13:40:00 Gerolsteiner
6 13:42:00 Team CSC
7 14:00:00 Jelly Belly Cycling Team
8 14:02:00 Slipstream Chipotle Presented by H30
9 14:20:00 Team Type 1
10 14:22:00 Rock Racing
11 14:40:00 Symmetrics Cycling Team
12 14:42:00 BMC Racing Team
13 15:00:00 Toyota - United Pro Cycling Team
14 15:02:00 Astana
15 15:20:00 Team High Road

13:21 EDT    Collier has given up contact now, and the other seven forge on ahead. Meanwhile another Marco Polo rider has been dropped, so they'll finish with five. They come in with a 20:59.41.

13:22 EDT    Heath Net is just 1km behind Marco Polo, quite a bit faster. Bissell has taken its start and are pushing up the hill for the first time.

Now Jittery Joe's is on course.

13:23 EDT    The Bissell team has quite a few good time trialists. Zirbel will be taking some massive pulls today, as will Ben Jacques-Maynes.

Health Net is in with a 20'17.72.

13:26 EDT    Bissell is through their first lap in 5'07.04 - looking very fast. They're keeping all their men together, while Jittery Joe's has already lost one on the first lap! Bissell is heading up the hill for the second time now and they're all big-ringing it.

13:27 EDT    Jittery Joe's got it back together after the hill - we're not sure which rider it was who had trouble, but they've settled in and are now organized into one line.

13:29 EDT    The 'bean team' is through the first lap in 5'11.44. This really demonstrates the importance of keeping a smooth pace - having one strong guy come to the front and hammer up a hill will not help the whole team - it might get one guy dropped and then they would have to ease up and wait. It's best to keep a fast, steady pace, and let the weaker guys sit on.

13:30 EDT    Gerolsteiner is now in the start area with CSC getting bikes checked by the UCI. Out on the course, Bissell is pushing up a smaller incline with Peltonen on the front out of the saddle and going hard.

13:31 EDT    10'06.84 for Bissell! That's the first lap under five minutes so far - these guys are flying! They have a very well balanced team and are setting a smooth pace, even up the hill.

13:31 EDT    Oh no! Tom Zirbel dropped his chain on the hill! Bad bad news for Bissell - he's their TT motor!

13:32 EDT    He isn't even trying to catch back on. Even though that was a 10-15 second mistake, it will cost him minutes by the end of the day. He should have stayed in the big ring and muscled up the grade.

13:34 EDT    10'26.89 for Jittery Joe's after two laps. Time for them to dip into that well caffeinated stash of coffee for a bit of a turbo boost. They've lost someone on the hill.

13:36 EDT    The Jittery Joe's team lost Cody Stevenson - another Cyclingnews diarist! We've got three diarists in the Tour de Georgia. Cody, Rory and Trent 'Willo' Wilson.

Bissell is still going strong, but Zirbel is well off the back. He has to keep riding hard to make it inside the 25% time limit, but he's not having any luck! He has another mechanical!

13:38 EDT    Bissell is through three laps in 15'19.32, still on the fastest time so far by about two seconds over Health Net. Now Jittery Joe's comes through in 15'42.99.

13:40 EDT    Aaron Olson is dropped from the Bissell train on the final trip up the hill - but he's only got one lap to go it alone. Jittery Joe's loses Evan Elkan now... Ben Jacques-Maynes is dropped from the Bissell team, that's surprising - he's done good time trials in Tour of California.

Gerolsteiner is on the line and they look far too chipper for the amount of pain they're about to encounter. They're all joking and laughing.

13:41 EDT    Gerolsteiner is now out on course. Bissell comes through in 20'18.06. Not a new fastest time - they lost it a bit without Zirbel.

13:43 EDT    CSC is now on course, and they've got some wickedly fast riders on the team. Brad McGee - a prologue winner and team pursuit Olympic gold medalist. Bobby Julich and his crazy oval chainrings... Jittery Joe's is in with 20'57.57.

13:47 EDT    Gerolsteiner put in a smashing first lap 5'05.43 - the fastest so far, but it's costing them. They've lost Thomas Fothen going up that nasty hill. CSC went through in 5'00.80! Massive!! Take into account the standing start and that has to put them on track for one of the best rides of the day.

13:49 EDT    D'oh! We've GOT to stop complimenting teams because it seems each time we say they're fast they lose someone. CSC lost someone to a jammed chain on the hill!

13:50 EDT    That was JJ Haedo, and the sprinter would have been the team's best bet for taking over the yellow jersey from High Road if they could have placed well in the TTT, but now they will focus on the overall GC and let him lose time.

13:51 EDT    10'04.39 for Gerolsteiner who are down to six riders now. They only started the Tour with seven and lost Fothen.

13:52 EDT    Brad McGee is leading the CSC train, putting in a big, long pull. He's up there for the better part of 30 seconds before pulling off. He's slaying himself for Julich, who takes over next and does an equally strong pull.

13:53 EDT    9'57.81! CSC is just flying!

13:54 EDT    Correction - Gerolsteiner started with eight and has seven now. Someone was hiding in there. JJ Haedo is way off the pace and he might be joined by Anders Lund, who is struggling to stay with the CSC train.

13:55 EDT    Team Slipstream is in the starthouse now getting their bikes checked. They've got those great argyle long sleeve skinsuits on. Jonathan Vaughters was bragging earlier this year about the special fabric on these kits, which is said to be the most aerodynamic fabric available.

13:56 EDT    15'05.07 for the Gerolsteiner team, and up ahead CSC is lapping Fothen. Ouch! They've now lost sprinter Robert Förster.

13:58 EDT    14'56.11 for Team CSC! A great effort with one lap to go. Now they've lost Lund, but he sat up at the line, his work done. Gerolsteiner has lost one more man, this time it's Sven Krauss. They only need to finish with four.

14:00 EDT    CSC is down to five men coming into the finale with Julich looking nice and comfortable. Jason McCartney does a big pull, and now it's Cuesta's turn. Gerolsteiner has just four men coming to the line. In the start house: Jelly Belly and Slipstream. Two very colourful teams!

14:00 EDT    Jelly Belly is the next to take off, while Gerolsteiner comes through with four with a 20'09.53. Fast time, but CSC will be much faster.

14:02 EDT    CSC smashes the fastest time - a 19'49.58! 20 seconds on Gerolsteiner. Poor JJ Haedo still has one lap to go.

14:05 EDT    Jelly Belly and Slipstream are the teams on course now, and enjoying the perfect racing conditions we have here in Braselton. JJ Haedo and Thomas Fothen finally finish, rolling across the line together.

14:07 EDT    Slipstream should be putting in a strong time today - between Dave Zabriskie, Vande Velde and Pate, they've got some great motors. Jelly Belly is through the first lap in 5'10.45, passing Haedo. It was Lund and Fothen coming in previously...

14:08 EDT    US TT Champ Dave Z pulls Slipstream through in a 4'54.59! Wow! That's better than CSC!

14:11 EDT    Health Net's Rory Sutherland told Kirsten Robbins that the course was much harder than they expected. They worked hard to keep them all together so they didn't have any riders time cut. They lost one, but it was within the cut.

On course, Jelly Belly's Bryce Mead is hanging on for dear life. It's possible that Haedo will get some time off to let his wrist heal since he was so far off the pace. But these guys are professionals, and know how much effort they must use to stay in the race.

14:11 EDT    Jelly Belly is in with a 10'24 - a solid time, and they're focusing on sticking together to keep all their riders in the race rather than contending for the stage .

14:13 EDT    Slipstream is simply flying - 9'47.63! Awesome. Danielson was spotted with a sort of brace across his chest this afternoon - under his skinsuit. It's likely supporting his injured back [actually, it was a ice vest - ed.]. Dave Z leads the team up the hill single file - they're all still together.

14:14 EDT    We thought Tyler Farrar was leading the Best Young rider classification, but Nic Sanderson is in there for Jelly Belly in the green oak leaf jersey.

14:17 EDT    Jelly Belly is still keeping it together, putting in a 15'33.43 third lap time - just doing enough. Slipstream on the other hand has the throttle wide open and are hammering this course into submission!

14:18 EDT    14'41.90! That's 15 seconds faster than CSC. They've lost Lucas Euser - he's done his job and is now struggling up that hill in the little ring.

14:19 EDT    Now Tyler Farrar lets up at the top of the hill and will ride that last lap easy with Euser. Farrar will be saving his legs for the stage on Sunday. It seems that Farrar doesn't fancy his chance at taking the leader's jersey - it is more important for the long term goal - putting Danielson on top in Atlanta.

14:20 EDT    The next two teams will be Rock Racing and Team Type 1. Kirsten Robbins spoke with Colombian Santiago Botero. He said the team time trials are tricky, especially on a course where it's twisty and hilly. It's hillier than he expected, but he's happy they're not allowed to use TT bikes because on the course it would be easy to drop riders or run into each other. He's not feeling his fittest, but he's one of the strongest TTers on the team and will be doing a lot of work. Glen Chadwick for Team Type 1 agreed. He said the teams from Europe who have done TTT's will have an advantage because it's tricky. It's something that takes a lot of practice to perfect.

14:21 EDT    Slipstream has now lost Pate and are down to four with Dave Z pulling on the front, his tongue hanging out. Jelly Belly is just in front of them with five and Sanderson on front - 20'52.38.

14:22 EDT    Slipstream is heading into the finishing chute now and sprinting up to the line...

14:22 EDT    19'40.43!

14:24 EDT    The strategy might have been dicey for Slipstream as they gained only nine seconds on CSC and dropped all but four. Team Type 1 and Rock Racing are out on course.

14:27 EDT    Correction - Slipstream was 19:36.86 and Jelly Belly 20:47.12. That's nearly 11 seconds for Slipstream then. They lost Timmy Duggan to that crash yesterday, and we haven't heard any more updates this morning. But we did hear he was conscious last night, but was under sedation. Head injuries can be so touch and go - just ask Saul Raisin. Let's hope and pray Duggan doesn't suffer any ill effects from this.

14:27 EDT    Rock Racing is through the first lap with Botero taking control of the pace. They put in a stellar 4'58.57!

14:28 EDT    The first Rock Racing rider has lost the plot. It's Kayle Leogrande, and his Tour de Georgia may be over.

14:30 EDT    Team Type 1 is in with 5'08.55. That's a good effort from the brand new squad. If the name sounds funny to you, it might make more sense if you knew their purpose is to raise awareness of Type 1 diabetes. They're out to prove that those with the disease still can lead an active, health lifestyle with the right medical care.

14:33 EDT    TT1 is through with a 10'13.71 second lap time. They've got several diabetics on the team, and one of them, Fabio Calabria, is in the Tour de Georgia.

14:33 EDT    Rock Racing has come through its second lap with a 10'06.01 - slowing down a bit on that lap. They lost one more up the hill going into the third lap, but they're not waiting.

14:35 EDT    Looks like Doug Ollerenshaw has been dropped. With every rider they lose on course, they stand a chance at losing a potential domestique for the mountains. These guys have to finish within 25% of the fastest overall time, and that means less than five minutes behind.

14:35 EDT    Team Type 1, on the other hand, are not worrying about the stage, but want to keep everyone on the course and in the race. Rock is down to five!

14:38 EDT    Team Type 1 completes the last lap in 15'24, while Rock hits the line with a 15'15.61. They're slowing down now and we've heard that Botero was dropped, but that just doesn't sound plausible unless he was slaying himself for Sevilla and Hamilton.

14:40 EDT    Sevilla takes a big pull on the front of the remaining Rock Racing five - taking quite a bit of time at the front. He's their GC man and looking to be the strongest. Pena slides through quickly, Creed takes a ten second pull.

14:41 EDT    Matt Wilson is losing contact with the TT1 squad now, his work is done. Symmetrics heads out and BMC is in the start house. Interestingly, Fred Rodriguez is the last Rock rider to be dropped - and the remaining quartet power off into the distance. Hamilton, Creed, Sevilla and Pena, it appears, are the last on course.

14:42 EDT    TT1 is in now with a good 20'32.42. That's enough for 5th right now.

14:43 EDT    BMC is now out on the Road Atlanta course, looking a bit disorganized on the hill. They get it back together over the top and are passing one of the Rock Racing riders - Leogrande.

14:44 EDT    Rock Racing came through in 20'29.21 - they detonated after a very fast start. Fred Rod rolled through a few minutes later, and Botero and Ollerenshaw still have 1km to go.

14:45 EDT    The situation as it stands with five more teams to go is as follows:

1 Slipstream Chipotle             19.38.86
2 Team CSC                        19.49.58
3 Gerolsteiner                    20.09.53
4 Health Net p/b Maxxis           20.17.72
5 Bissell                         20.18.06
6 Rock Racing                     20.29.21
7 Team Type 1                     20.32.42
8 Jelly Belly                     20.47.12
9 Jittery Joe's                   20.57.57
10 GE Macro Polo Trek             20.59.41

14:47 EDT    Symmetrics is cruising along, through the first lap at 5'14.63. BMC is also looking quite comfortable - both teams are taking a similar tactic being single file. The riders are taking pulls of about 20 seconds and then sliding to the back.

14:48 EDT    BMC's first lap was 5'05.98. The crowds at Road Atlanta are pretty big - all along the route we've got people enjoying the spectacle and the nice weather.

14:50 EDT    We're told there is a 140 foot elevation gain each lap, but we're sure it feels more like 140m. It's constantly up and down, and that makes it difficult to get into a rhythm. Symmetrics is coming through the 1km to go banner, past some large construction equipment and then up the hill toward the end of lap two.

14:52 EDT    Symmetrics comes through in 10'22.06, all eight together. Kirsten Robbins spoke with Slipstream manager Jonathan Vaughters, who was explaining the team's last minute strategy to jettison Tyler Farrar. The best young rider was second in the overall classification, and could have taken the yellow jersey. But he wasn't on a great day and would have slowed the team down. Every second counts, and the team decided to go for the stage win instead.

14:53 EDT    BMC is heading out for the third lap, coming through in 10'05.52.

14:56 EDT    The BMC team has now lost Mike Sayers - the rugged 38-year-old did his work and will now focus on staying inside the time limit.

14:57 EDT    Symmetrics still has all its riders, and have completed three laps in 15'29.98. They've clearly not hedged their bets on the stage today and will hope for glory later in the week. 2007 UCI Americas Tour winner Svein Tuft is a good candidate for a breakaway win. They'll want to do something in order to replace the sponsorship which runs out in June.

14:58 EDT    BMC is going better - they're in with 15'06.29. Now former race leader Ivan Dominguez and his Toyota United team are in the start house, while Astana is rolling around keeping warm.

15:02 EDT    The High Road team of race leader Greg Henderson will get the last heat all to themselves today. But first, Toyota heads out for their TTT. Symmetrics comes through with 20'29.67, while BMC has lost Scott Nydam in the last 2km. It's those last couple little leg breakers that are causing damage, and the remaining four BMC riders are looking rough heading into the final 500m.

15:02 EDT    Astana is off, and now BMC is sprinting to the line to a great time - 20'08'51.

15:05 EDT    Toyota is working well together with Ivan Stevic still in the B World CHampion's jersey. Behind them, Astana is motoring: Leipheimer dragged the team up the hill and is doing a lot of the work. They'll be giving Slipstream a run for their money.

15:06 EDT    Toyota puts in a very respectable 5'05.26 - we'll see if they can maintain this pace. Mike Sayers (BMC) finally comes through the line...

15:07 EDT    All eight Astana riders are blazing through the 1km to go mark, making the course look flat. They've dropped the first rider already! Michael Schär is gone, and they've set the fastest time!

15:07 EDT    4'49.98! Leipheimer is dragging the team up the hill again, and is setting such a hard pace that the riders have to sprint to stay on contact.

15:08 EDT    New fastest time for Astana, but they're not too smooth on the hill - there are gaps opening up already and it's just the second lap!

15:09 EDT    This is perhaps not the best strategy, and they've realized it. On the descent, they come back together, but Horner is hammering on the front up the false flat out of the saddle.

15:10 EDT    Toyota is still all together, and the seven Astana riders are still looking ragged - but that is what a flat-out effort looks like. It will be a rough 20 minutes behind Leipheimer. Toyota looks a bit more relaxed.

15:12 EDT    Toyota gets through two laps in 10'07.58 and are heading back up the hill for the third lap. Astana is through the second lap in 9'46.25 - they're settling in, but are dropping another rider.

15:12 EDT    It's Kireyev's time to be detonated, and now Astana has to do this with six.

15:13 EDT    Going up the hill, there is a gap behind Rubiera and Leipheimer- they've blown ANOTHER rider off the back.

15:14 EDT    Mizurov is gone! They're down to five and this will hurt them. They can only afford to lose one more guy - Horner, Leipheimer, Colom, Kemps and Rubiera are left. Bets on the next one to be dropped?

15:16 EDT    Astana is only a tiny bit under Slipstream after two laps - just 1.5 seconds after two laps. Toyota is still cruising with all the riders, 15'08.02 after three laps.

15:16 EDT    Henk Vogels lets go on the hill and nearly comes to a standstill on the hill. Toyota down to seven now. Astana still has five, and are looking a bit more controlled.

15:18 EDT    14'47.79 - now six seconds slower than Slipstream - they clearly went out too hard.

15:20 EDT    Hilton Clarke has let go of the Toyota train now... Ivan Dominguez is the next to go. High Road is in the house - one minute to start. Astana is definitely slowing down. This course is taking its toll.

15:21 EDT    Toyota sprints to the line with four just as High Road takes to the course. The team of former leader Ivan Dominguez comes through in 20'20.29 - a solid mid-pack finish.

15:22 EDT    Astana is now heading to the line, out of the saddle with five and sprinting. 19'40 - second fastest.

15:24 EDT    High Road is setting out at a less frantic pace than Astana showed. They're looking smooth - staying all together, and the rider going back doesn't have to do a full on sprint to get on the back of the line. Greg Henderson is in the yellow jersey, while Bert Grabsch is the German TT champion.

15:26 EDT    High Road is doing a very good time! 4'52.33 and looking strong after one lap. Grabsch is losing contact on the hill - first victim!

15:28 EDT    The High Road first lap is smack in the middle of Astana's fastest lap and Slipstreams 2nd fastest. They've got a good rhythm going. Henderson is at the back soft pedaling on a short descent, while up front Hincapie is putting in a long, long pull.

15:30 EDT    Michael Schär (Astana) actually abandoned the race. He was the one who crashed on stage two, and he must be in quite a bit of pain and climbing that hill must have hurt that shoulder. High Road is down to six now - no word yet on who was dropped. The first two laps completed in 9'45.04 - that's the best second lap we've seen!

15:32 EDT    The yellow jersey of Henderson is looking strong. The Kiwi is a former track world champion, so he can go hard for 20 minutes. They're motivated to keep the jersey for one more day.

15:34 EDT    They're a second faster than Slipstream, two faster than Astana was at this point and looking like a well-oiled machine. The High Road skinsuits add a nice little triple black stripe up the side that is reminiscent of the old T-Mobile kit.

15:35 EDT    But since this is the 'new cycling' they've mixed it up a bit, and the middle stripe is wider than the others... Six riders are still together at the end of three laps - 14'42.95!

15:36 EDT    They're behind Slipstream now - just a fraction of a second. They have an advantage, though, as they have six riders still. But there are gaps opening on the hill - uh-oh!

15:36 EDT    They get it back together on the descent - Hendy is still going strong, but Lewis is fighting the bike.

15:37 EDT    Hincapie pulls through and then slides back, and next it's Lövkvist. The Swede is the team's GC hopeful. Hendy comes through now, his arms draped over the bars. He has to fight to get on the back when he pulls off.

15:39 EDT    Grabsch is the only rider who was dropped - High Road had to start without John Devine, who fell ill before the race. So they're using smart team tactics here - using all their men as much as they can.

15:40 EDT    The yellow jersey is giving the team "wings" as the saying goes... Greipel pulls through and then has to sprint back onto the train - a descent helps him out. They're into the finish chute!

15:40 EDT    And Hendy leads them through, but they're not going to do it! 19'42.06

15:41 EDT    Third best time, but within seconds of the Slipstream and Astana teams. Hendy will keep the yellow jersey as there are no time bonuses on the stage today.

15:42 EDT    Let's not forget Mr. Grabsch, who will be the last rider to finish. He's got 1km to go and should be safe.

15:43 EDT    Hendy keeps the jersey, but Farrar will fall back down in the rankings after today's stage. But the effort paid off with a big team stage win for Slipstream.

15:45 EDT    Thanks for following the 6th Tour de Georgia here on Cyclingnews. Tomorrow's stage will be all up and down for the riders, and then on Saturday we've got the big uphill finish at Brasstown Bald. There's plenty more exciting racing to come, so check back in at 11:00 EDT tomorrow and Saturday, and then at 1PM on Sunday for the grand finale!

Provisional results

1 Slipstream Chipotle             19.38.86
2 Astana                          19.40.79
3 Team High Road                  19.42.06
4 Team CSC                        19.49.58
5 BMC                             20.08.51
6 Gerolsteiner                    20.09.53
7 Health Net p/b Maxxis           20.17.72
8 Bissell                         20.18.06
9 Toyota United                   20.20.29
10 Rock Racing                    20.29.21
11 Symmetrics                     20.29.67
12 Team Type 1                    20.32.42
13 Jelly Belly                    20.47.12
14 Jittery Joe's                  20.57.57
15 GE Macro Polo Trek             20.59.41

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