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Tour de Georgia - 2.3

Georgia, USA, April 20-25, 2004

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Stage 2 - April 21: Thomaston - Columbus, 189.9 km

Complete live report

10:27 EDT   
Welcome to day two of the Tour de Georgia.
The race is underway for the 190km stage from Thomaston to Columbus.
Immediately there was an attack from the Navigators team. They are perhaps trying to get something back from yesterday after their sprinter Kirk O'Bee got caught behind a crash on the finishing circuit.

10:33 EDT   
This morning on the start line Lance Armstrong received an award from the Cancer Coalition for his ongoing effort to help cancer patients.

10:48 EDT    28km/161.9km to go
After some early attacks there is now a break of three riders up the road. In the break are Mark Walters (Navigators) and Scott Zwizanski (Ofoto). They had 30 seconds on the field and were later joined by Jakob Piil (CSC) and William Frischkorn (Colavita Olive Oil).
The gap to the field is 49 seconds

10:50 EDT   
The gap is now at 1'10" and Health Net have moved to the front getting ready to keep the race under control for the yellow jersey, Gord Fraser. Colnago/Landbouwkrediet are on the front with them helping out a little.

10:56 EDT   
Cyclingnews caught up with Gord Fraser this morning before the race. Health Net are of course looking happy and ready to keep the jersey today.

10:57 EDT   
Jens Voigt is also happy with his third place on GC now and looking forward to the time trial.

11:05 EDT    40km/149.9km to go
As the race enters Shiloh, Georgia the break of four has two minutes on the peloton. Health Net is setting steady tempo on the front.

11:09 EDT   
Up front, Frishkorn and Walters are powering the break. It seems that Piil is really there to mark the break as he is not putting all his effort into it.
Frischkorn is really motivated because it turns out that he is the Colvita GC man now that Nathan O'Neill is out with an injury. Frischkorn is a good climber, so if this break stays away, it could have an impact of the overall.

11:12 EDT   
The style of the race is much more Euro this year with the presence of Postal, CSC and Colnago. Things are steadier and the pace is a little slower early in the race.

11:27 EDT   
The race is approaching the KOM now at Hines Gap. The four in the break now have 2'30" and will take the KOM points leaving one place left to be fought out amongst the peloton.

11:28 EDT   
Colnago are still manning the front of the bunch with Health Net setting a steady pace.

11:45 EDT    57km/132.9km to go
The riders have just passed the first KOM at Hines Gap. We'll have results of the sprint shortly. The next sprint isn't until kilometer 106 at Pine Mountain followed by a KOM sprint at the 120km mark at FDR State Park.

11:50 EDT   
The KOM was taken by Scott Zwizanski (Ofoto), followed by Walters and Frischkorn. Piil didn't contest the sprint at all.
Frischkorn is the virtual Maillot Jaune as the break is sitting at 2'20".
Health Net are chasing steadily and adamant on defending their jersey.

11:52 EDT    70km/119.9km to go
The race now heads into Warm Springs. The weather is still fine at about 80 degrees (25 degrees Celsius).

11:55 EDT   
The gap is now at 2'45" so despite Health Net chasing, it is not coming down. It is still very early on though and plenty of time to bring it back so they are not panicking at the moment.

12:02 EDT   
The crowds watching the race are big again today. It started in a small town and just about the whole town came out to watch. Along the side of the road there are heaps of people sitting in the back of their pick-ups watching the race go by and the school kids from the local area are just arriving at the finish line getting ready to get a good look at Lance when the race finishes in another couple of hours.

12:03 EDT   
We have had a questions about why Cipollini didn't contest the sprint yesterday. It seems he wasn't caught behind the crash. He just pulled up and decided not to contest it. We'll get more on that later.

12:05 EDT   
The time gap to the break has increased. It is now 3'05" and the riders are looking strong as the race winds along the rolling road. The wind is relatively strong today and so far the riders have had about a 10km/h cross wind.

12:09 EDT    80km/109.9km to go
Riders have been racing now for two hours and have just gone through the feed zone, which is one likely reason for the break gaining a quick 30" on the field. Health Net is chasing solo at the moment.

12:13 EDT   
An update on why Cipo didn't contest the sprint yesterday from our reporter on course, Tim Maloney. The race bible stated there was three finishing circuits, but if you looked closely there was 3 and 7/8, so almost four finishing circuits. The Domina train was all set up in the penultimate lap but when Wohlberg attaked in the last lap he caused an upset in the team lead outs. His attack was looking so strong that Lance Armstrong and Jens Voigt both went after him. The hard bricked finishing circuits are also something that Cipo would not really be used to.

12:20 EDT   
An interesting tidbit. Jacky Durand just passed through Durand, GA.

12:22 EDT    88km/101.9km to go
The break now has 2'55" on the field.

12:27 EDT   
Cyclingnews caught up with Johan Bruyneel this morning before the race.
He said their plan for today is similar to yesterday. "Our plan is to stay in the same position and not lose any time -- get to the time trial in ideal conditions."

He added, "We have three guys that are in good shape and do well -- it's Lance, Ekimov and George. So the three of them have their options. We don't want to put everything on Lance because he won't have any freedom, so maybe we can play with Hincapie and Ekimov. Our main objective is to do well with the team -- we have three leaders, so everyone's job is to protect those leaders."

12:32 EDT    100km/89.9km to go
The gap between the break and the peloton is still at three minutes. Frischkorn still vurtual tour leader on the road and Health Net are still on the front of the bunch.

12:33 EDT   
The race is now following tree-lines roads through dense forest so the wind is not a factor at this point. There is 10km remaining before the next sprint which will be followed by the second KOM another 15km after that. It is likely that Health Net will wait until after the KOM to pick up the pace as there is 40km from the KOM to the entrance to the finishing circuits.

12:35 EDT   
More from Johan who commented that this is his first experience [racing] in the states. "It looks good," he said. A solid organization. And the base is there to have a great race in the future. It's already the biggest race in America, and I think there is potential to get it on the top level."

12:41 EDT   
We have been getting a lot of questions about how the postal team is doing. They are happy to be sitting in at this point in the race. It is early days with a lot of hard stages remaining, incliding a hilly time trial. You will see more of them in the following stages.

12:43 EDT   
Remembering also that Lance Armstrong is not really here to win the race. He is using it as good preparation for the upcoming months. Of course he is still a favourite, but as Johan stated this morning they also have "Hincapie and Ekimov to play with."

12:52 EDT    112km/77.9km to go
The riders have gone past the sprint at Pine Mountain and are now heading towards the KOM. There was no intermediate time bonus at the sprint line today. Time gap is still at 3 minutes.

12:59 EDT   
Will Frischkorn took the sprint at Pine Mountain. Riders are heading past Callaway Gardens resort, the oasis for Golf and horticulture, although I imagine the riders are not stopping to smell the roses.

13:01 EDT    120km/69.9km to go
The break has just gone over the KOM. It looks like Zwizanski (Ofoto) has taken it in front of Walters and Frischkorn. Piil didn't contest it again.

13:02 EDT   
The gap is 2'40", so it is coming down a bit as Health Net have picked up the chase a little. They really needed to do that as the longer the break stayed out there the more dangerous. Piil is very strong and has been working hard in the break. He has the ability to go solo and take control of the race if the gap isn't reduced fairly quickly now.

13:07 EDT   
Cyclingnews caught up with Nieko Biskner (Ofoto) this morning, who is wearing the young riders jersey.

"Having the best young rider jersey is a lot of motivation," he said. "The team is definitely supporting me on this one. I'd love to be able to take it to the finish but it's going to be tough (laughs)."

13:13 EDT    130km/59.9km to go
The time gap is coming down as Domina Vacanze have joined in the chase. The time gap is now 1'50" and falling.

13:17 EDT   
With about 50km remaining it is obvious that Domina are going to take two and try again. When riders reach the town of Columbus they will enter the finishing circuit and go through the finish line for three laps to go. Today the finishing circuit is a very flat L-shaped loop which might be more suited to Cipollini than yesterdays hilly red brick circuit. The final turn in the ciruit is a 90 degree left hand turn followed by a three block straight to the finish line.

13:23 EDT   
A correction to the second KOM results. It was a close sprint and in fact is was Walters who took the sprint over Zwizanski.

13:25 EDT    135km/54.9km to go
Frischkorn has flatted his rear wheel and Mavic neutral support is on it immediately.

13:25 EDT   
The crowds are huge at the finish line, all standing around watching the giant screen at the finish.

13:28 EDT    145km/44.9km to go
Frischkorn back in there again now.
Back in the bunch Sergio Marinangeli (Domina Vacanze) is helping Health Net chase. The gap is 1'55" with about 32km remaining before they hit the finishing circuits

13:29 EDT   
Piil looked to be eyeing off the other three breakaway riders before, perhaps trying to decide how they are looking and whether he should stay with them or go solo. Right now they are still riding well together. Frischkorn is looking strong.

13:38 EDT   
Frischkorn must really have good legs today as he chased back on after flatting up a 1km fairly steep climb and looked to do it with relative ease.

The gap is now at 1'50" and the four leaders are still working well together. The terrain between now and Columbus is rolling hills all the way in.

13:41 EDT   
The riders in the break are asking for water and the Colavita team car kindly gave a bottle to Jakob Piil. As the race is approaching the exciting end of the race, riders will be chatting with their director sportif's to plan what they are going to do in the next 40km.

13:44 EDT   
The gap is still at 1'50" and holding.

13:46 EDT   
Cipollini has been going back to his team car a lot today talking to his DS. He has his riders on the front with Health Net and it is very likely he will be aiming to win this race today.

13:48 EDT    150km/39.9km to go
The gap has suddenly dropped to 1'30" so the chase has picked up as the race gets closer to Columbus.

13:48 EDT   
And it has dropped even further. It is now only 1'10".

13:53 EDT    153km/36.9km to go
The race is nearing town as the riders get a time gap update from the moto. They still have 1'10" on the chase group and its all moving very fast now. The four leaders are working well together but Health Net and Domina are chasing hard.

13:56 EDT   
There are hundreds of people lining the course and more spectators are starting to move from the Carnivale/expo area to the finish area to watch the finish.

Break still has over a minute with Health Net and Domina chasing.

14:00 EDT    169km/20.9km to go
The race is entering the Columbus city limits right now and a lot of spectators are lining the road even here. There are a lot of "Go Lance" signs around.

With only 20km remaining the gap has just gone under 1 minute.

14:06 EDT   
The crowd is growing at the finish line as the riders get closer to the circuits. The gap is still just under a minute.

As we said before the finishing circuit is very different to yesterdays with the road a lot wider and very flat. It is an L-shaped loop so there are quite a few right angle turns on the circuit. When they hit the finish line for the first time, they will get three laps to go which is just over 10km.

14:09 EDT    169km/20.9km to go
The gap is down to 30" now. It looks like this break will be caught within the next five kilometers before the race hits the finishing circuits.

14:11 EDT   
One thing the rider will have to contend with on the finishing circuits is a narrowing road as soon as they hit the loop. They are now on Veterans Parkway which is very wide and open. The finishing ciruits are still pretty wide, but a lot narrower than the inbound road.

The other thing on the circuits are two sets of railway tracks. One set has been covered with mats.

14:16 EDT    171km/18.9km to go
The break has been caught.

14:18 EDT   
After a long day out in the wind Mark Walters (Navigators), Scott Zwizanski (Ofoto), Jakob Piil (CSC) and William Frischkorn (Colavita Olive Oil) have been caught and the race is not far from entering the finishing circuits.

14:22 EDT   
The race has just hit the finishing circuits. They have a long straight and lots of sharp turns, when they turn the final corner after three laps they have 350 meters to the finish.

The bunch is all together. Health Net are still on the front trying to control the race. Colnago are also up there for Yuri Metlushenko.

14:25 EDT   
Domina, Health Net and Navigators trains are fighting it out at the front. Health Net are confident now that they can go head to head with the big Euro teams and so far so good.

14:26 EDT   
It looks like its going to be a sprinters game. No counter attacks so far, the pace is too fast. Domina have three guys on the front at this point.

14:27 EDT    179km/10.9km to go
They are just rounding the last corner before the finish line and will get the call for three laps to go.

14:31 EDT   
Domina's train was so fast that they had a few guys off the front but it is all back together again now.

14:34 EDT    183.1km/6.8km to go
Two laps to go now and it is all still together. Health Net are on the front although they have lost one of their guys, Jason McCartney. He looks to have burnt out.

14:35 EDT   
Health Net have been on the front all day so it will be interesting if they still have that upper end for the last lap.

14:36 EDT   
The average speed inside these finishing circuits is 53km/h, so it's very fast and not much chance for a late break away. The sprinters teams don't want to let that happen today.

14:40 EDT   
Coming into the last lap Kirk Albers (Jelly Belly) was on the front.
It also looks like Saeco are up there helping Domina in the sprint.

14:41 EDT    188.9/1km to go
A big fight between Health Net and Domina on the front.

14:41 EDT   
Both teams have their trains going and its motoring. Its a wide open sprint and very exciting. Cipo is right up there.

14:42 EDT   
Its Cipollini, Dominguez, Fraser.

14:43 EDT   
Cipo has a great lead out around the final corner, he was sitting in third place. He jumped with 200m to go to take the win.

14:44 EDT   
The crowd was huge on the finish line and loud. Everyone got to see the 'Lion King' strut his stuff.

14:49 EDT   
Cyclingnews correspondent, Tim Maloney, caught up with 'Super Mario' immediately after the finish. He was delighted with the stage win.
"It's a lot of satisfaction to win here. My teammates were really pumped for this stage."

14:51 EDT   
The director of Domina also commented, "Now you know we didn't come here for nothing.

14:52 EDT   
Thanks for tuning in to the live coverage of Day Two. Full results and report to come.

Mail the commentary team    

Brief Results

1 Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze)
2 Ivan Dominguez (Colavita Olive Oil)
3 Gord Fraser (Health Net)