Tour de Georgia - 2.3
Georgia, USA, April 20-25, 2004
Main Page Results
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Stage 5 - April 23: Dalton - Dahlonega, 224.3 km
Complete live report
Commentary by Kristy Scrymgeour, with additional reporting from Tim Maloney
Welcome to stage five of the Dodge Tour of Georgia. After a jaw dropping day
yesterday where Lance won the downhill sprint in Rome and later in the day won
the challenging time trial to take the leaders jersey, we arrive at perhaps
the toughest day of the tour.
Today riders start in Dalton and head to Dahlonega for a 224.4km day in the
saddle and complete the famous three gap route.
The race has just started as the riders do a lap of the town and head out on
the road to Fort Mountain, the first KOM of the day.
The riders had a long transfer this morning and actually had to have a police
escort to the race so that they made the start. Sounds exactly the sort of thing
that happens in Europe. This race is becoming more European every day.
Today particularly will be reminiscent of the Tour de France as the riders climb
Wolfpen Gap, which climbs to 1019meters/3345 ft.
10:24 EDT 10km/214.3km to go
There has been an attack. Navigators are ready to race today. They have sent
Jeff Louder up the road and he has been joined by Jacky Durand (Landbouwkrediet
– Colnago) and an rider from Barloworld.
The trio were quickly reeled in and a counter has gone up with road with 10
guys in it. It looks like its going to be a very active day today. "It's not
going to cakewalk for Lance today," as Bobby Julich said this morning.
When Cyclingnews caught up with Bobby Julich (CSC) today, he was disappointed
with his time trial yesterday and said he blew his gear selection. He rode a
41/21 for his lowest gear and really needed something smaller.
Armstrong used a 39/23 and needed it as he was climbing out of the saddle.
10:33 EDT 12km/212.3km to go
Piil attacked but was brought back by Pavel Padrnos (USPS), the a larger group
attacked. In the group was Admamson (Barloworld), Louder (Navigators), Mike
Sayers (Health Net), Will Frischkorn (Colavita) and two Ofoto riders. The Ofoto
team have been very active in this race and continue to be so.
The break has been caught, and another counter comes immediately.
10:40 EDT 20km/204.3km to go
We are now only five kilometers from the sprint now and the riders in the group
are mainly sprinters. In the break are Jacky Durand (Colnago), Chris Wherry
(Health Net), Henk Vogels (Navigators), Alex Candelario (Jelly Belly), Enrico
Degano (Barloworld), Jason McCartney (Health Net).
Postal is on the front of the peloton setting tempo at this point.
Many people have been asking about Henk Vogels and how he is after his crash
last year. He is happy and feeling pretty good. He said it was a tough come
back especially as he also crashed in training as he was recovering. But he
has been racing in Europe and says that has been good for him.
Correction to the break. The Barloworld rider is Stefan Adamsson, not Degano.
Adamsson just won the intermediate sprint from McCartney and Durand.
As the race starts climbing Ford Mountain, the break has a one minute lead.
10:47 EDT 28km/196.3km to go
Postal is on the front with the Peach Jersey tucked in behind them. It's kind
of like a dress rehearsal for the Tour de France.
10:55 EDT 30km/194.3km to go
The gap is up to 2 minutes. The guys in the break are looking pretty good as
they head up the mountain. Candelario is hanging onto the back.
The break is about half way up the 13km climb right now. Back in the peloton,
Damon Kluck (USPS) is setting the pace on the front with Lance sitting in seventh
Chris Wherry (Health Net) is the highest in GC out of the group. If this break
stretches out further, he could become the leader on the road.
Jason McCartney had a great time trial yesterday, but he lost time on previous
stages so he is not up there on GC.
11:08 EDT 37km/187.3km to go
The break is 4km from the top of the climb now and Chris Wherry continues to
push the pace up the climb. Postal is still riding tempo on the front. It's
a steep climb and a tough way to start a 224km race!
We spoke with Health Net DS, Jeff Corbett, who said his plan was to send guys
up the road early so that his GC riders, John Lieswyn and Danny Pate, could
sit in comfortably in the bunch and save themselves for later in the race.
The gap sits at 2'10" as they approach the first of the four KOM's today.
An update of Craig Lewis, the young TIAA Cref rider (US National Team) who fell
in the time trial yesterday. He has a couple of broken ribs and a broken arm
and was unconscious for a bit yesterday. Last night he was in good spirits and
feeling ok. He will stay in hospital for a few days to recover. It is still
not known how the car that hit him got onto the course yesterday.
The sprint results for the Fort Mountain (not Ford like I called it before)
McCartney (Health Net), Adamsson (Barloworld), Durand (Colnago), Wherry (Health
Net) and Vogels (Navigators).
The descent is not as steep as the climb, but its still fairly twisty. When
they reach the bottom they go over a few foothills and then the road is rolling
until they reach the next sprint in Ellijay at 72km.
The crowd is already huge in Ellijay at the moment waiting for the race to come
The weather today is in the upper 60's and overcast. A perfect day for racing.
If the guys didn't have to concentrate on the race, it is also beautiful scenery
here in nothern Georgia.
11:31 EDT 48km/176.3km to go
At the bottom of the descent the break now has 3'05" on the peloton with Postal
still setting the pace behind.
11:42 EDT 60km/164.3km to go
The gap has increased to 4'00" now which makes Chris Wherry the new leader on
the road. The guys at the front actually have a lot of horse power and the Health
Net team are really pushing the pace.
A question was asked about how Health Net are saving their riders by sending
their domestiques up the road.
If they send their riders up the road, the race settles down a little in the
bunch. It is more of a steady ride and they are not obligated to be anywhere
near the front. The responsibility is on the leading team, in this case USPS
to do the work to bring the break back. The Health Net guys and the other teams
who have riders in the break can just sit in behind Postal and relax a little.
11:52 EDT 67km/157.3km to go
The race has just gone through the sprint at Elijay. Durand took the sprint
from McCartney and Wherry.
The gap to the peloton is now up to 5'10".
Alex Candelario for a rear flat and changed it just after the sprint. He is
now back in the break.
Back in the peloton, the Postal team is riding a steady tempo, looking at the
scenery and practicing their French!
Tomorrow, Lance is expecting a special visitor, Madame Sheryl Crow. They will
be helicoptered off the top of Brasstown Bald, the finishing mountain, after
The break is now 6'00" in front of the peloton and the gap continues to grow.
We talked with Ed Beamon, DS of Navigators, who says his plan is similar to
that of Health Net. He has Henk Vogels up the road to let his GC riders rest
back in the peloton. Coincidentally, this is the same road that Vogels lost
his yellow jersey to Saturn last year, so Beamon joked that Vogels is trying
to purge his memories of last year.
In the General classification, Chris Baldwin and Phil Zajicek sit 8th and 11th
at the moment and Beamon is hoping for them to have good rides today. He said
they rode well in the time trial yesterday, but it was their first ride on their
new Colnago time trial bikes and their positions weren't properly dialed in
Today, Beamon has Massimo Bartolini, importer of Colnago into the US, in his
team car. Bartolini is especially happy at the moment to have two Colnago's
in the break.
Chris Horner also said yesterday was only his second ride on his new Lemond
TT bike yesterday. That compared with the CSC team who were doing 120km training
rides on their TT bikes at training camp in January.
People are asking as to whether Postal can bring this back and if they look
worried at all.
Postal will just ride tempo at the moment and they wouldn't be too worried.
There are still a lot of mountains and a lot of time left in the race. At the
moment the gap is 5'30" and Postal has Tony Cruz sitting on the front. Also
up their doing to dutiful work on the domestique are Daniel Rincon, a very talented
young climber, and Mike Creed, who is really doing well in his first big race
12:17 EDT 80km/144.3km to go
They are riding through apple country and have just passed the feed zone. They
are heading up a long wide drag right now and the break is still working hard.
12:19 EDT 80km/144.3km to go
On the first climb today Cipollini was dropped and his team went back to pick
him up. He got back on as the climb flattened out at the top. This is great
training for Cipollini for the Giro. This year the Giro is quite hard at the
beginning and has a lot of climbing, so this is perfect preparation for him.
The race is coming up to the Fanin County line with still another 60 kilometers
or so until the first of the three gaps, Woody Gap.
Woody gap is a cat 3 climb and climbs to 975 meters/3200ft. It is the following
climb, Neel's Gap that will be the decider today. After the descent of Woody
Gap, there is a feed zone and from there Neel's gap begins. There is a very
Euro style hairpin on this climb after which the road gets narrow and steep.
This is probably the place that Horner will make his move today.
The race is getting a little hillier as the course heads further east. The gap
is back up to 6'00". The break is still working well up front, but with these
mountains coming up, six minutes can be reeled in pretty quickly, especially
as the guys up front have been doing all the hard work all day. They all know
they are pawns in the game, but are doing their job well setting up the stage
for their GC riders in the peloton.
There are hundreds of people on Woody Gap waiting for the race to come by. Cyclists
are riding up there trying to get to the top before the race does and spectators
are set up with their wine and their picnic lunch all the way up the climb.
The one thing with this race is that the roads are perfect. Many of the riders
have commented on how nice and smooth the roads are. When they pass into Union
county, just before the climbing starts, the roads get a little rougher, but
compared to roads elsewhere in the country, the roads are pristine.
There are signs on the side of the road saying "Allez y'all", which sets the
scene perfectly. The scenery through the climbs is just gorgeous. It is tree
covered valleys and forest all the way through. Along with the perfect weather,
it is a pleasant place to watch a bike race.
Previously I wrote that Neels Gap would be the hard climb, but I was in fact
talking about Wolfpen. I have also had emails from readers who train on these
roads who agree that Wolfpen is the hard one. It is particularly hard because
it climbs straight up out of the descent from Neels and it is much narrower
than the other two climbs. Wolfpen is the climb with the switch back that is
perhaps the point Horner will attack.
12:59 EDT 126km/98.3km to go
The gap is still at 5'30" as they head into Union County. They are very close
to starting Woody Gap. Postal still man the front of the peloton keeping a steady
A lot of people have been asking why Lance isn't wearing the World Championship
stripes on his jersey. We are not sure, but we will be sure to find out.
When the cyclists pass over woody gap, they are crossing the Appalachian Trail
where it bisects with the highway. At the bottom of the descnt, the feed zone
is in an area known locally as the 'Rock Pile'. They travel along the bottom
for a bit then head up Neel's Gap. At the crest of Neel's they pass over the
Appalchian Trail again, further north of their first crossing. There is a 'climbing
station' there where people who do the hike will reload supplies before they
finish the Trail. The descent is long and at the bottom they hit the 'hairpin'
which is an off camber turn that invariably can cause havoc if one does not
know what to expect. This is where the road narrows and has a few classic hairpins
in the climb. This comes up to Wolfpen Gap. Apparently several local motorcyclists
have lost their lives descending this climb by missing a corner. The backside
of Wolfpen is basic. They then turn to reclimb Woody Gap, and after descending,
there is actually a little bit of a climb after the Rock Pile before the run
To answer some reader questions. Lance Armstrong won the World Championships
in Oslo in 1993. He was one of the youngest World Champions ever. He is allowed
to wear the World champion stripes, not the jersey, on his sleeves if he chooses.
The race is on Woody Gap now, the first of the three Gaps.
We're having problems getting race radio through the mountains, so coverage
will be a bit sparse. We'll do the best we can.
After the three gaps, the riders go up the final part of Woody gap one more
time before the descent to the finsh. Coming into town the road is rolling,
they come in to the town square and the make an immediate (and somewhat narrow)
left turn, and then it's a little downhill to the finish.
To clear things up about Lance and his stripes, we have just heard from Lancearmstrong.com.
Here is their response:
"We all know that Barry Floor is the presenting sponsor for the USPS Pro Cycling
Team, they have an American subsidiary called ALLOC. The jerseys were a special
small run made just for racing in the US, they did not make special jerseys
for LA, and Eki with the WC stripes on them."
13:37 EDT 138km/86.3km to go
We have a time gap from the break to the peloton. They still hold 5'10" on the
chasing bunch as they climb Woody Gap.
Also to clear another question up. Lance Armstrong was one of the youngest world
champions, but not the youngest. Karel Kaers (Belgium) won it in 1934 at age
Timmy Duggan, the new leader in the young rider classification, has just had
a wheel change, but is back in the group.
13:50 EDT 143km/81.3km to go
The lead riders are now 1km from the top of Woody Gap. Postal is still controlling
the peloton and Chris Wherry is doing a lot of the work on the front of the
Apparently there is a ride is this area called the "Six Gap Century" held in
late September each year. The ride begins and ends in Dahlonega and includes
six mountains--Neels, Jacks, Unicoi, Hogpen (the steepest by far), Wolfpen and
Woody. Last year's ride drew more than 1,750 entrants.
The Jittery Joe's team, being from this area, rode the race last year and apparently
Cesar Grajales blew everyone away.
The Jittery Joe's are really hoping that Grajales can have a good ride here
and this is their home territory, especially tomorrow.
13:58 EDT 145km/79.3km to go
The race has just gone over Woody Gap. There is still a gap of 5'00" to the
peloton and the break are working really well together. McCartney, Durand, Wherry
and Adamsson seem to be the strongest in the group at the moment.
Postal is still on the front of the peloton. On the climb they had to slow down
a little to wait for Mike Creed when he got a flat.
Over the KOM, McCartney took the sprint, followed by Durand, Wherry and Adamsson.
The race will probably continue in the same vein until we hit Wolfpen Gap. This
is where the action will occur. Right now the time split from the break to the
peloton sits at around 5'00".
As many readers will know, Jacky Durand (Landbouwkrediet-Colnago) is a specialist
at long breakaways, often termed "suicide breaks" because they never succeed.
Well, almost never. Durand made a name for himself in 1992 when he won the Tour
of Flanders in a 200+ km breakaway with Thomas Wegmuller, the peloton never
catching sight of them. Since then, Durand has made it a trademark, and he's
always one of the first riders to attack in any race.
He's won stages in the Tour de France, the French championship (twice), Paris-Tours
and numerous other races. He's certainly no slouch on the bike.
Having a great race today and a great tour is Jason McCartney. His time trial
yesterday would have to be considered one of his best results. Last year he
won the Joe Martin Memorial stage race, Snake Alley Criterium and stages 1 &
4 at the Gateway Cup. He also came third in the elite National time trial championships.
He is still working hard up in the break for his Health Net team.
The race is on Neel's Gap now and its starting to split up. The time gap from
the break to the peloton is at 4'35" and the Postal Team have picked up the
pace in the chase.
The peloton is slowly losing riders. There has been no attacking in the peloton.
The slight increase in pace from Postal is enough to split up the group. Cipollini
has fallen off the pace and is sitting in the third group at the moment.
Unfortunately for US Postal-Berry Floor fans, this Tour de Georgia will be the
first and last time that Lance will be racing here (in Georgia!) in a USPS jersey.
A few months ago, there were rumours alluding to the US Postal Service pulling
out its sponsorship at the end of the year, and this was confirmed by USPS spokesman
Gerry McKiernan today. The Postal Service has decided to go "in another direction"
with its marketing plan according to McKeirnan, after eight years of sponsorship.
On the other hand, it's highly likely that a new sponsor will step in to fill
the breach, and presenting sponsor Berry Floor has already indicated that it
will increase its commitment. According to our sources in Berry Floor, the presence
of the best known cyclist in the world meant that Berry Floor more than doubled
its sales in 2003, the first year of sponsorship of the USPS team.
Timothy Duggan who wears the best young rider's jersey has had a run of bad
luck in today's stage. He flatted on the first climb, then his chain broke.
Finally he had to have a bike change. His teammate, Colby Pearce actually gave
him his bike.
15:02 EDT 175km/49.3km to go
Apparently there are about 60 riders still with the yellow jersey chasing the
breakaway. The gap is also coming down to the break and it will all be decided
now as they start up Wolfpen.
Wolpen climbs to 1019m/3139ft and is narrow and steep with switchbacks. Very
Euro style. From the top there is only 40km remaining in the race which is still
undulating terrain with the top of Woody Gap in between.
We spoke to the KOM leader Mark Walters this morning who is pleased with his
race so far.
"It's exciting for me," he said. "I've never had a climber's jersey in a race
before. I'm just going to try my best to get ahead of the game early and try
ot grab some points, while Lance's team and CSC patrol the race."
15:10 EDT 186km/38.3km to go
The race is coming down Wolfpen now. We can't tell what has happened on the
climb yet. The mountains are breaking everything up.
15:16 EDT 195km/29.3km to go
There are two riders off the front right now. One is Jason McCartney and another
rider. They broke away from the lead group on Wolfpen.
It is now McCartney solo 1'40" in front of Adamsson and 2"40" back to pack.
The rest of the break have been caught by the peloton.
This is an amazing ride by McCartney. After his effort in stage two and his
time trial yesterday, this is really a great race for him.
McCartney has a huge fan base of people writing in to show their support and
he is certainly putting on a show for all those people. He still leads and has
gained time on the descent as the peloton was still climbing. His lead is now
3'25". What a great ride.
15:26 EDT 205km/19.3km to go
McCartney has 3'25" to the field and 2'45" to to Adamsson at this point. Back
in the peloton a CSC rider just attacked as they have 1km remaning to the top
of Woody Gap but has been chased down by Postal.
Armstrongs group has split into two and are heading down the descent, McCartney
has a really good advantage here and could win this race.
Apparently back on the climb, Horner attacked at the bottom of Wolfpen and started
catching riders from the break. The break had split up by this stage because
McCartney attacked hard and blew it apart.
Horner was third on the road behind McCartney and Adamsson but before long Postal
picked it up and reeled in everyone except for Adamsson and McCartney.
It looks like Adamsson is going to get caught on the descent from Woody gap,
but McCartney is still looking strong.
It was Julich from CSC who attacked at the top of Woody. Armstrong countered
which split up the group and he led the remaining riders over the top and down
15:35 EDT 210km/14.3km to go
Adamsson has been caught by the peach jersey group.
McCartney has 2'20" now on the chasing peloton. On one of the small hills heading
into town Julich attacked and Armstrong went to the front himself and reeled
him in. Now three Postal guys are on the front chasing hard.
McCartney is 10'05" down on GC, so Postal doesn't need to catch him. They will
just be trying to keep the pace high so as to keep the gap down. There is a
very good chance that he can win this race.
15:48 EDT 219km/5.3km to go
The gap is now 2'30" and things have settled down back in the chase group. McCartney
is still riding hard and doesn't have far to go to victory, but seems to be
suffering in the cross wind.
Webcor is attacking from behind and so is Ofoto.
Chris Horner (Webcor) is attacking and things are unsettled back in the chase
group. They are not going to let McCartney take the victory without a fight.
The gap is falling between McCartney and the bunch. It is now 2'00".
15:52 EDT 222km/2.3km to go
They can still catch him as he is getting tired but it's going to be close.
15:53 EDT 223km/1.3km to go
McCartney is getting close to the finish line, and he is 30" in the lead.
15:54 EDT 224.5km/-0.2km to go
It so close now but it looks like he is going to do it! This is amazing.
15:55 EDT 224.3km/0km to go
McCartney has taken the win, what a fantastic ride!
The sprint is coming is for third place, its going to be close. There is only
a group of about 30 riders left.
The have crossed the line. It's Salvatore Commesso (saeco) in second place and
Charles Dionne (Webcor) in third.
We just caught up with McCartney who looks exhausted. "It was really tough out
there," he said.
1 Jason McCartney (Health Net)
2 Salvatore Commesso (Saeco) at 0'30"
3 Charles Dionne (Webcor)