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Tour de Georgia - 2.3

Georgia, USA, April 20-25, 2004

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Stage 3 - April 22: Carrollton - Rome, 126.2 km

Commentary by Kristy Scrymgeour, with additional reporting from Tim Maloney

Start time: 09:30 EDST
Estimated finish time: 12:30 EDST

Complete live report

09:40 EDT    3km/123.2km to go
Welcome to stage three of tour de Georgia where the race is just about to start in Carrollton. Today riders will contest two stages. The morning stage is a relatively short and flat stage which heads North to the town of Rome. Again, the stage finishes with three finishing circuits. This time the circuits are 4.1km in length and include a steep hill called the Second St climb.

After yesterday's exciting finish where Mario Cipollini gave the spectators what they came to see, it is still Day One winner Gord Fraser in the peach leader's jersey.

The race has just started and it's aggressive from the gun. CSC and Postal are attacking but everything is getting reeled in very quickly right now. Being such a short stage, it will be full of action.

09:46 EDT   
The first attacks of the day came from Benjamin Haldeman (Webcor), Nieko Biskner (Ofoto) and Jacky Durand (Landbouwkrediet – Colnago). It's just continual attacking right now with nothing sticking. They are riding down a very wide dual carraigeway past hundreds of elementary school kids. The school band of the Carrollton Trojans are playing.

09:49 EDT   
Yesterday's winner Mario Cipollini was fined yesterday 100 Swiss Francs for the use of wrong equipment and 30 Swiss Francs for sheltering behind a vehicle. Five members of the Postal team were also fined for momentarily sheltering behind a vehicle when they went back to their team car for Lance Armstrong to have his seat adjusted.

09:51 EDT   
Sierra Navada are being aggressive right now. Russell Hamby attacked, but was caught and immediately his teammate Sterling Magnell countered and is off the front by seven seconds with Peter Lopinto (Ofoto).

09:54 EDT   
A lot of readers were asking yesterday why the USPRO Stars and Stripes wearer Mark McCormack is not at the race. He had every intention of being here, but his wife was rushed to hospital last week, eight months pregnant, to have their second child. He wanted to be with her.

09:56 EDT   
The pair have been caught and Matt Dubberley, also from Sierra Nevada has countered and has a ten second lead.

09:57 EDT   
There are a lot of people on the side of the road all the way a long. The weather is clear skies and warm, as it has been the last couple of days.

09:58 EDT   
Maximilian Sciandri (CSC) has just rejoined the peloton after going back to his team car for a double shoe change.

09:59 EDT   
Matt Dubberly did the same thing last year in this race and was out there solo for almost and entire stage before getting caught.

10:00 EDT   
The US Postal team have been bringing back most of the breaks so far today.

10:04 EDT   
Tim Larkin (Ofoto) and Thad Dulin (Colavita) bridged up to Dubberly and the gap to the peloton got out to 13 seconds, but now it is all back together.

10:09 EDT    27km/99.2km to go
Russell Hamby has attacked again and it looks like John Lieswyn has covered his move. The pair are just off the front.

10:13 EDT   
It looks like Health Net are out for another stage win today. Fraser is in the leaders jersey and with the hard finishing circuit today he will be out to win.

Hamby and Lieswyn have been caught and another Ofoto guy, Jackson Stewart, has attacked. Ofoto and Sierra Nevada are very active this morning and Health Net are doing a lot of chasing.

10:15 EDT   
There is almost no wind today, so it won't be a factor at all.

We also had a question as to what wrong equipment Cipo was using. We believe it is his cycling shorts that are not the correct shorts specified by his team to the UCI. He gets fined in almost every race for the same reason, but its his image that he is protecting.

10:17 EDT    34km/92.2km to go
Stewart now has 25 seconds on the field and is looking strong.

10:23 EDT   
A lot of people are putting their money on the "Cuban Missile", Ivan Dominguez for today's stage. He is a talent and yesterday his sprint with Cipollini was very close. Some say that if he didn't mistake another line for the finish, it may have been even closer!

10:24 EDT   
Stewart now has 40" on the field and there is a chasing rider 21" behind him. The chaser is Stuart Gillespie from the US National Team.

10:25 EDT   
Cyclingnews caught up with Dominguez this morning who was very excited about his second place yesterday. He mentioned that his goal is to get to Europe to race in the next couple of years. He now wears the points jersey in the Tour de Georgia after have placed second in stage One and Second yesterday.

10:29 EDT   
Stewart's lead has increased slightly to 45" to the field and 25" to Gillespie.
CSC, Postal and Domina are sitting at the front of the peloton.

10:32 EDT   
Stewart has really gained some time now. He sits 1'20" in front of the peloton and Gillespie is 40" behind him. The average speed of the race at this point is 41km'hr (26miles/hr).

10:34 EDT   
Cyclingnews also caught up with George Hincapie (USPS) this morning who feels pretty good but is also a bit tired from the Spring Classics campaign. He says its great racing back in the US as the roads are much nicer. After Paris Roubaix that sounds pretty true!

10:41 EDT    50km/76.2km to go
The lead has increased again. Stewart now has 2'00" on the field and Gillespie is at 56".

Apparently Gillespie is having trouble with his radio as he has called the team car up to help him.

There is now a tailwind as the riders head along the Veterans Memorial Hwy on the road to Rome.

10:45 EDT   
It was actually Stewart that had the problem with his radio. All seems fine now.
The chase is being led by Domina Vacanze. Colavita are also up there as they are trying to keep it together so that Dominguez has every chance of keeping the points jersey. Health Net also want to keep it together.

10:54 EDT    55km/71.2km to go
Gillespie is just about the be caught by the peloton but Stewart is still out there and sitting at 2 minutes. The race is now heading through Polk County and the countryside is beautiful with rolling hills and oak trees. At the cross roads there are people out watching the race go by and apparently the crowd is building up again at the finish line.

11:02 EDT    70km/56.2km to go
Stewart now has a 2'30" lead on the bunch and is looking strong. The same guys are riding tempo at the front of the peloton - Domina, Health Net and Colavita.

11:11 EDT    75km/51.2km to go
A correction to a previous statement. Gord Fraser has the points jersey but Dominguez is wearing it because Gord is in the leaders jersey.

Stewart has just taken the sprint points as he crosses the sprint line in Cedartown. It also looks like Health Net are setting it up for Fraser to take second place.

11:14 EDT   
Cyclingnews caught up with Tony Cruz (USPS) this morning who says he is feeling better every day. "I like this race -- it's nice to race at home," he said.

About his spring campaign:

"I'm pretty happy. I would have like to have gotten a few more top ten results, but overall I was a lot more fit than years past. I get a little break now, I get to spend some time at home with my family. My wife hasn't been to happy lately (laughs). Tour of Belgium is tentative for my next race. I'll do Philly and the Olympic Trials too."

11:17 EDT   
Fraser took second place in the sprint over Juan Jose Haedo from Colavita.

11:18 EDT   
Stewart's lead is now falling a bit. He now sits 1'50" in front of the peloton.

11:21 EDT    86km/40.2km to go
The race is on smaller two lane country roads now which are rolling and winding. This is where Adham Sbeih made a move last year.

11:23 EDT    86km/40.2km to go
The gap between Stewart and the field is now at 1'45". It looks like they are upping the tempo now as they head towards Rome.

11:25 EDT   
Once the race hits the city limits of Rome, there is another 1okm before the finishing cicuits begin.

The gap is falling more quickly now. Stewart's lead is 1'30" on the chasing peloton.

11:29 EDT   
When we talked to Hincapie this morning he said he stayed at the front during the finishing circuits yesterday.
"I was just trying to stay out of trouble,"he said. "The circuits are pretty dangerous. I heard [about the sharp turn today] -- finishing in circuits always adds a bit of danger to the race."

Today there is a turn in the finishing circuit that is very tight. It is about 110 degrees.

11:33 EDT    93km/33.2km to go
The gap is now at 1'35" and falling. It has been a strong ride from Stewart. He is actually riding six minutes ahead of the fasted projected schedule.

11:36 EDT    94km/32.2km to go
There are a lot of school childeren gathering at the intersection in anitcipation.

Domina, CSC and Colavita are present at the front and despite the fact that Stewart is still riding very well on the twisty roads leading to Rome, the tempo behind is picking up.

11:38 EDT    99km/27.2km to go
The gap is still dropping. It is now at 1'05".

11:39 EDT    99km/27.2km to go
Only 48" now. They have really picked it up.

11:40 EDT   
Colavita are up there helping. Dominguez only sits 3" behind Fraser in the GC, so they will be hoping to have a good finish and perhaps take the jersey. Fraser is riding well though and this finishing circuit is good for him, especially with the steep 400m power climb each lap. Something would have to go wrong for Fraser for him not to be up there.

11:42 EDT   
When the riders hit the Second St climb for the first time it is for KOM points. The final two laps however, there are no KOM points on the hill.

Fraser he getting service from his team car at the moment. The race has nearly hit Rome.

11:43 EDT   
The gap is now 35" from Stewart to the bunch and they are closing in.

11:47 EDT    103km/23.2km to go
Stewart is hanging out there at 35". The chase has slowed a bit. It looks like they know he is close there and are not panicking. Health Net have moved to the front to make sure they are in good position going into the finishing circuits. They will want to control the race once they are on the cicuits.

11:53 EDT    110km/16.2km to go
The break has been caught and there was an immediate attack by Sergey Lagutin (Colnago). It was reeled in quickly by Health Net and now Health Net are at the front in control of the race.

11:56 EDT   
The riders are just approaching the finishing circuits on their way to the only KOM of the day. It is steep 400m climb.

11:57 EDT    115km/11.2km to go
They have just gone up the climb for the first time. Jackson Stewart is off the back after a long hard day on his own.

12:02 EDT   
Cesar Grajales (Jittery Joe's) got shelled at the beginning of the circuits so Jittery Joe's went back to bring him back. The sprint at the end is a fast downhill sprint.

There is a battle at the front between Domina and Health Net. Cipollini is looking good in there so he may well be victorious in Rome!

12:03 EDT    118km/8.2km to go
Chris Horner has attacked to try to make it split, but Domina brought him back. Domina are on the front. Lance is right up there at the front in fifth position, no doubt trying to stay out of trouble as the course is a bit of an acrobatics course.

12:04 EDT   
Hincapie is also up near the front staying out of trouble too. Domina are really taking control of the race with two laps to go.

12:05 EDT   
It is a very fast downhil sprint so it's going to be interesting.

12:07 EDT   
Many are wondering if Cipollini will pull it off for the second day in a row. It will no doubt give him a new title as "The Emporor of Rome."

12:09 EDT    121.2km/4.1km to go
The Domina Vacanze team have relented as it is obviously not a circuit for Cipo.
Colnago are right up there setting things up for Yuri Metlushenko.

Jakob Piil attacked. This attack came back and Sierra Nevada countered.

12:10 EDT   
The attacks keep coming. CSC is really trying to shake things up on the hill.

12:10 EDT    123km/3.2km to go
The bunch is still all together right now with only a lap to go

12:12 EDT   
Still lots of attacking, but the field has exploded into two main groups. They are flying down the back on the course at over 40miles/h.

12:12 EDT   
The downhill sprint is very fast. Lance is right up there as is Dominguez.

12:13 EDT   
Its very fast and it looks like Armstrong can win this. There is no real lead out.

12:13 EDT   
And it's Lance Armstrong who crosses the line first ahead of Dominguez.

12:15 EDT   
Unbelievable, nobody would have predicted this. Armstrong was up there keeping himself out of trouble and he took the win. Another good day for Dominguez. It depends on where Fraser finished, but Dominguez could have the jersey.

12:19 EDT   
Third place was Australian Ben Brooks (Jelly Belly). Officials are still trying to figure out who has the overall lead now.

12:20 EDT   
From my calculations it should be Dominguez, but that is unofficial.

12:27 EDT   
One thing this finish will do for Armstrong is bump him up in the GC a little enabling him to start later in the time trial.

12:29 EDT   
Dominguez is now officially in the points jersey. He was second to Gord Fraser before the stage. Still no official work on the leaders jersey.

12:35 EDT   
It sounds like Dominguez has taken the Peach Jersey going into the Time Trial. Mark Walters has taken over the KOM jersey. Nieko Biskner keeps the Young rideres jersey.


1 Lance Armstrong (US Postal presented by Berry Floor)
2 Ivan Dominguez (Colavita Olive Oil)
3 Ben Brooks (Jelly Belly)