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Tour de Georgia - 2.HC

USA, April 18-23, 2006

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Stage 3 - April 20: Chickamauga, GA - Chattanooga, TN, 39.9km

Commentary by Kristy Scrymgeour with additional reporting from Mark Zalewski and Kirsten Robbins

Complete live report

11:32 EDT   
Welcome to Stage 3. The all important time trial and the one the big GC hitters have been looking forward to. Things are under way now and so far its a nice day. Again we have weather predictions that thunderstorms may be on the way which could affect the later riders.

11:33 EDT   
The course starts in Chikamuaga and climbs over Lookout Mountain before crossing the state line into Chattanooga, Tennessee.

11:39 EDT   
So far Pieter Mertens (Davitamon Lotto) has clocked the fastest time at the intermediate check point. His time was 26'18".
The course starts out pretty rolling and then kicks up pretty significantly about 15km into the race. It flattens out along the top of the hilly area and then the descent into Chattanooga is quite technical to finish.

11:49 EDT   
We caught up with a few riders before the start. Notably Jason McCartney with Discovery to see what their plan is going to be for today. The Discovery team feels that Yaroslav Popovych who currently wears the leaders jersey, has a good chance of keeping it. Popovych won a big time trial recently in Europe and they think that he can win today and keep the jersey. They also have a few cards to play when it comes to Brasstown Bald so it will be interesting to see what happens today.

11:51 EDT   
Christophe Rinero (Prodir) has just crossed the intermediate time check in 26'54".

11:58 EDT   
So far the top ten in the General Classification is as follows:
1 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel 9.33.15
2 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto 0.04
3 Juan José Haedo (Arg) Toyota-United Pro 0.07
4 Caleb Manion (Aus) Jelly Belly 0.12
5 Lars Michaelsen (Den) Team CSC 0.14
6 Karl Menzies (Aus) Health Net p/b Maxxis 0.16
7 Cesar Augusto Grajales (Col) Navigators Insurance 0.17
8 Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) KodakGallery.Com-Sierra Nevada
9 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems
10 Robert Hunter (RSA) Phonak Hearing Systems
11 Thomas Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel

These guys will be off last. You'll see that a few of the main GC contenders are in that group. Floyd Landis, who is probably the race favourite for the tour will go off ninth from the end. David Zabriskie sits in 19th overall right now and he is also one to watch today as he told Cyclingnews on day one that he would win the time trial and keep the jersey.

12:01 EDT   
We have a new best time at the midway split. Viktor Rapinski (Colavita Sutter Homes) just posted a 26'06"78.

12:05 EDT   
The first few riders have finished the race. The fastest time so far is Pieter Mertens (Davitamon-Lotto) with a time of 59'35.26.

12:07 EDT   
At the intermediate split Heath Blackgrove posted a new fastest time of 25'58".

12:08 EDT   
Our reporter Mark Zalewski is in the Targetraining car following Anthony Colby. He is currently on the climb and can see his minute man up ahead. The climb is pretty consistent with a few steep kicks. Colby is out of the saddle right now.

12:09 EDT   
Jakob Piil (CSC) has just posted a 59'44.69

12:30 EDT   
The fourth fastest time at this point is Christophe Rinero (Prodir). He posted a time of 1 hour 0'54.21
Meanwhile Colby is on the second climb. On the first climb he caught his minute man and he looks pretty good. His midway split was 26'02" which is right up there. The second climb is fairly gradual and lasts for about 5km before he starts the technical descent.

12:32 EDT   
Viktor Rapinksi has posted a new best time of 59'14". He's obviously feeling pretty good here this week.

12:34 EDT   
Colby has just crested the climb and come around the corner for the descent. It's a pretty amazing sight. You turn the corner and its just a guard rail and a few rocks between you and a thousand foot drop off. The descent and twisty and tricky. Being a good technical descender could win you the race today.

12:38 EDT   
We have a new best time at the finish from Heath Blackgrove. He posted a 59'07" which gives him seven seconds on Rapinski.

12:44 EDT   
José Enrique Gutierrez Cataluna (Phonak) just posted a 24'27" at the intermediate split surpassing a previously best time set by Remmert Wielinga (Quick.Step) of 25'15".

12:46 EDT   
Anthony Colby is almost finished his ride. Mark Zalewski reports that the descent twists and turns all the way. Colby took the descent quite nicely. Stay tuned for his time. The Targetraining team are really have a good race so far.

12:49 EDT   
Our reporter Kirsten Robbins also caught up with time trial specialist Nathan O'Neill this morning before the start. He said that he actually practised this time trial at race pace a couple of weeks ago and he likes it. He said its a perfect course for him and if everything goes well he thinks he can win it.

12:51 EDT   
We do have a lot of confident guys here for this time trial today so we'll see which one of them can put their money where their mouth is. Tom Danielson told us yesterday that he doesn't think he can win the time trial but that he has been working on it and thinks he has improved dramatically. Last year he finished a minute behind Floyd Landis and had to make up his time on Brasstown Bald. Lets see what he does today.

12:56 EDT   
Black at the start Floyd has started his ride.

12:57 EDT   
Jason McCartney (Discovery) has just posted a time of 24'53 at the midway time split, with Justin England (Toyota United) posting a 25'06" moving into second and third at the midway point.

13:03 EDT   
We have two new best times and a new fastest split. Inigo Cuesta Lopez De Castro (CSC) has set the fastest time so far with a 58'16.25 followed by Todd Herriott (Colavita) in 59'06.02.
Meanwhile Nathan O'Neill has posted a 24'14" at the midway mark

13:09 EDT   
Phil Zajicek (Navigators) and Craig Lewis (TIAA CREF) have both posted excellent finish times of 59'16" putting them right up there so far.

13:14 EDT   
We have a really fast new time of 55'37.14 set by José Enrique Gutierrez Cataluna (Phonak)! Out on the course Floyd Landis has set the fastest split time so far of 24'01"

13:17 EDT   
Jeff Louder also posted a great time to finish in 58'04", putting him in second place so far.

13:20 EDT   
Danny Pate (TIAA CREF) has finished in a time of 58'15"

13:23 EDT   
Justin England (Toyota-United Pro) just posted a 57'00" and Jason McCartney a 55'52.23 which moved him into second place.

13:28 EDT   
And another new best time. This time it is Nathan O'Neill with a 55'09.49!

13:32 EDT   
Dave Zabriskie (CSC) has just finished the time trial in the new fastest time of 54'38".

13:36 EDT   
Our reporter Kirsten Robbins was in the CSC car following Zabriskie. She said he looked very smooth all the way and taking a lot of risks on the decent. After he caught his minute man Chris Baldwin, they played cat and mouse for a little while but eventually Zabriskie broke that and powered away. Baldwin is also a very good time trial rider with multiple National Time Trial titles under his belt.

13:38 EDT   
Danielson just came in with a faster time that Zabriskie. He said he'd improved his time trialling but that is amazing. His time is 54'18.24.

13:40 EDT   
Landis is coming in right now. He's got it. The fastest time so far. 54'14.49.

13:41 EDT   
Popovych is still out on the course remember. He's already made up two minutes and caught the guy in front of him. He's on a flat section right now and looking very smooth.

13:44 EDT   
Popovych just passed another rider on the course. He's flying and could well do what Discovery said he could do before the start and win this time trial.

13:46 EDT   
Also still to come in is Cesar Grejales (Navigators) who did so well a few years ago on Brasstown Bald. This is his stomping ground and he'll be aiming to do well again in the days to come.

13:49 EDT   
Popovych is flying down a small descent right now. He's entering the main descent now. He's flying along at 45m/h. He's also taking some risks. Pedalling fast and really hugging the inside line of the turns taking the fastest line possible.

13:50 EDT   
It straightens out a little bit here before it gets to the more technical part further down. He has 10km to go.

13:52 EDT   
Popovych is just about to catch yet another rider out on the course. Its JJ Haedo. At the finish Brian Vandborg (CSC) has just finished in 56'13.13 which puts him in tenth place so far.

13:53 EDT   
Popovych is off the mountain and on to the city streets. The weather has held out. Its getting darker in Chattanooga but the rain is yet to come.

13:56 EDT   
Popovych is moving around a bit in his seat trying to find that extra power. He has just seen 5km to go. At the finish line suspense is in the air.

13:59 EDT   
Caleb Manion (Jelly Belly) has just finished and Popovych is under 3km to go now. He is coming to the riverfront section now and making a hard left turn. He has a little bit of a rise to negotiate. He has his head down and he's on the rivet.

14:00 EDT   
Popovych has just hit 54'14" but he's still out on course so Floyd is the winner of the time trial for the second year running. He's about to see the 1km. He is 55 seconds down at the 1km mark.

14:02 EDT   
Popovych is at 500m to go and outside McCartney's time. He finished with a time of 56'07.33 which puts him in 7th place in the time trial.

14:05 EDT   
Floyd Landis (Phonak) is the time trial winner and will wear the leaders jersey going into stage 4.

Tomorrow is Dalton to Dahlonega. You might remember the day from last year when riders has to race in that torrential rain. This year the course is slightly different. They only go over Wolfpen Gap once but a few new climbs have been included and its going to be a tough one.


1 Floyd Landis (Phonak) 54'14.49
2 Tom Danielson (Discovery) 54'18.24
3 Dave Zabriskie (CSC) in 54'38.40
4 Nathan O'Neill (Health Net) in 55'09.49
5 José Enrique Gutierrez Cataluna (Phonak) in 55'37.14
6 Jason McCartney (Discovery) in 55'52.23
7 Yaroslav Popovych (Discovery) in 56'07.33
8 Marco Pinotti (Prodir) in 56'10"

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