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Tour de Georgia Cycling News for April 22, 2006

Edited by John Stevenson

Tour de Georgia stage 4: Finally Freddie

'Man of the match' to McCartney

Jason McCartney (Discovery)
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)
Fast Freddie Rodriguez
Photo ©: Trish Albert
(Click for larger image)

Coming up on

Cyclingnews will cover the 60th edition of the Dauphiné Libéré live as of stage 4 on Wednesday, June 10, at approximately 15:00 local Europe time (CEST)/ 23:00 Australian time (CDT)/ 9:00 (USA East).

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The fourth stage of the Tour de Georgia turned out to be a day for the sprinters, as Fred Rodriguez (Davitamon-Lotto) finally got the victory that has eluded him for the last few months. On paper it was a day for the climbers, though, or perhaps for an epic solo breakway. That's certainly how it looked for much of the stage as Discovery's Jason McCartney took off on a solo adventure after dispensing with the company of the other eight riders from the early break.

While Phonak rode tempo on the front of the bunch to limit the threat posed to general classification leader Floyd Landis, McCartney demonstrated that he is a rider to watch. In a show of strength that included dropping Dave Zabriskie (CSC), Francisco Ventoso (Saunier Duval-Prodir) and eventual KOM Lucas Euser (TIAA-CREF).

With 15km to go, though, the peloton caught McCartney. but the young American still had enough in the tank to respond to an attack by Leonardo Scarselli (Quick Step-Innergetic), and Rodriguez' Davitamon-Lotto team-mates soon reeled in the pair, to set things up for A Fast Freddie dash for the line.

Stage 5 preview: Race to the top

Stage five of Tour de Georgia is the second of the mountain days and what one would call the deciding day of the Tour. (See stage map & profile). With two major climbs leading up to an Hors Category mountain top finish, the pressure is on the GC riders to show their climbing legs.

Last year, after finishing a minute down on Floyd Landis (Phonak) in the time trial, Tom Danielson, backed by Discovery teammate Lance Armstrong outclimbed everyone, making it to the summit with just enough time on Landis the take the jersey in what was like a slow motion, suspense filled finish. This year Landis doesn't have a minute's buffer, but is on amazing form and it will be a battle till the end once again.

Tom Danielson (Discovery) climbs ahead of Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner) in 2005
Photo ©: Jonathan Devich
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Make sure you follow all the action, live on Cyclingnews, from 11:30 local time (EDT), 08:30 PDT (USA West) 15:30 CEST (Europe), 01:30 AEST (Australia East).

Click here for the full report from stage 4 and stage 5 preview.

Floyd Landis - A mother's perspective

Tour de Georgia race leader Floyd Landis entered the press conference in Dahlonega on Thursday surprised to find his biggest fans in the audience. Just behind the reporters sat six members of his family including his mother Arlene Landis. Cyclingnews' Kirsten Robbins had a chat with Floyd's proud mother.

"We usually come to watch Floyd at his races when he is in the U.S." said Arlene Landis. "The Tour de Georgia is our favorite race to watch because we can drive here as a family to watch the race."

Arlene Landis is from Lancaster, Pennsylvania where the family frequently supported Landis in Philadelphia's USPRO Championships. "We used to go and watch the race in Philadelphia every year but when Floyd out-grew that race we stopped going there."

The Landis family was sighted at the Tour of California this February where he won the yellow jersey. "We went to see Floyd in California and we were so happy to watch him there. But Georgia is still our favorite race in the U.S. because it is so close to home."

Floyd's mother arrived at the Tour de Georgia the morning of the time trial. "I have not been here for the entire race," said Arlene. "I just got here in time to see Floyd win the time trial. When Floyd does well we love to read about him in all of the magazines. Every time we see an article about him we keep it. Now we have a nice collection of stories about Floyd kept from over the years." "Floyd began cycling when he was a younger because we did a lot of cycling as a family especially on Sundays. But, he really liked to mountain bike more when he was younger," Arlene reminisced. " Now that Floyd has become really strong we have less opportunities to see him even when he is not racing. He comes home to visit for a few weeks each year especially for Thanksgiving and that is a special time of year for all of us."

Georgia goes green for Saul Raisin

By Kirsten Robbins

Thinking of Saul.
Photo ©: Beth Seliga
(Click for larger image)

Stage four of the Tour de Georgia started in the city of Dalton, the hometown of Credit Agricole's Saul Raisin. Raisin, who crashed at the Circuit De La Sarthe. "He will be arriving back to an Atlanta hospital within the next ten days," said venue director Kelly Greene. The fans and the riders of today's stage wore green ribbons and a piece of green bar tape on the bikes to show their support for Raisin's healthy recovery.

The twenty-three year-old cyclist suffered from a severe brain hemorrhage after his crash. He was medically induced into a coma to help speed up his recovery from his head injury.

"It was the city of Dalton and the local high school who came up with the idea to hand out green ribbons, the color of Credit Agricole, at the start of the race today," said Greene. "The riders wanted to support their fellow cyclist by wrapping a piece of green tape on their handle bars for today's stage. They also made a get well soon card for Saul and have been walking around collecting signatures from all of Saul to send to his parents after today's stage."

"We delivered pieces of green tape to the riders so that they could show their support for Saul by wrapping it around their handle bars today," said Green. "Of course all of us here at the Tour are constantly thinking about Saul and he is in our thoughts and prayers."

Saul Raisin grew up in the city of Dalton and many of his friends and family were at the start of stage four. "Saul is from Dalton and he has a lot of support here," said Kodak Sierra Nevada directeur sportif Robin Zellner. "When he had the best young rider jersey here last year had so many fans here to support him ­ the streets we full in Dalton because of Saul."

Saul was a member of Zellner's team, Ofoto-Lombardi Sports, in 2003. "He was always a very good time trialist and that is why we originally hired him for Ofoto because he was so strong," said Zellner. "He gained the best young rider's jersey in the time trial [here] and he held on to it, where he really proved his strength. He did very well here and he just continued progressing. That is what made the difference between Saul and the rest of the younger riders."

Raisin went on to race for the under 23 U.S. mational team in Europe where he was quickly noticed by Credit Agricole. "Not only is Saul an incredible athlete but he is also an incredible person," said Greene. "He has always been very humble and willing to work with the Tour and media. He is just a great kid ­ the salt of the earth. He has always been a pleasure to work with and we are all looking forward to his safe return home."

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