– Reported by Chris Gutowsky of VйloSport Vacations
Tom Danielson’s Discovery team put team player Jason McCartney in a day-long break, keeping race leader Floyd Landis and the Phonak team on the defensive from start to finish. Though Landis and company comfortably defended his slim 4-second lead, the on-the-road chess-match between the Phonak and Discovery teams was a perfect opening act for the battle royale sure to come tomorrow on the road from Blairsville up to the mountain-top finish at Brasstown Bald.
No Sleep Till Brooklyn
The peloton did a parade lap and calmly rolled out from the start in Dalton. This seemed to suit certain members of the race support entourage just fine, as a raft of bleary eyes paid evidence to the rumors of late night partying. Evidently, someone volunteered a team bus with designated driver, allowing those so inclined to participate in an extended Chattanooga pub crawl. This unplanned rolling event wrapped up around 3am, at last call for the only club still open. This morning’s pre-start chatter in Dalton seemed to confirm the existence of a full-on clandestine evening endurance competition, though no participants were willing or able to speak on record.
In any case, both riders and support personnel quickly found focus, with an eleven-rider attack springing clear inside of mile four. This group, which included GC contender Dave Zabriskie (intriguing move), was holding a 1:30 lead by mile 24, where McCartney started a successful bridge effort to join teammate Egoi Martinez in the pace-setting group. After a five mile effort, he made the connection just after the descent from the second-category KOM at Fort Mountain, which was taken by TIAA-CREF’s Lucas Euser.
McCartney Apparently Likes Dahlonega
With no organized effort in the field, the lead rose over three minutes at the fifty mile mark, where McCartney attacked the front group, quickly joined by Euser and Saunier-Duval’s Francisco Ventoso. Euser took the second KOM from the other two at the top of Hicks Gap, seventy-eight miles into the race. Twelve miles later, the not to be denied McCartney went again, this time solo.
McCartney must have had a notion to try and duplicate his incredible effort which landed him the stage victory in Dahlonega two years ago over nearly the exact same course.
Is It Possible? Same Scenario…Twice?
His lead mounted rapidly, reaching a peak of almost three minutes on the field before a Phonak-lead peleton slowly cut into the time gap. Euser took second-place KOM points at Wolf Pen Gap (mile 95) around a minute behind McCartney, only to be caught by the chasers within a few miles. McCartney hung on over the top of the final climb at Woody Gap but was reeled in easily on the screaming thirteen-mile winding descent to the finish.
McCartney was not done though! No no no, he was apparently up for more, as he followed the counter-attack when he was brought back with 20k to go, he went off for almost another 15k with Leonardo Scarselli, only to be brought back in the closing moments of the race.
Fast Freddie Foils McCartney
Fifty-two riders howled through the rapid run-in to Dahlonega, where sprinter Rodriguez got a perfect lead-out from Stage Two winner Yaraslav Popovych, coming around easily at the 100-meter line. Euser trailed in at 45 seconds, but scored a huge success for TIAA-CREF by taking the United Community Bank KOM lead by two points over McCartney. The Discovery rider is probably almost as happy with his consolation prize, the Most Aggressive Rider award as well as the satisfaction of a team job well done.
Stage 4 Results
1 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto 4.49.29
2 Matteo Tosatto (Ita) Quick Step-Innergetic
3 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel
4 Caleb Manion (Aus) Jelly Belly
5 Josй Enrique Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems
6 Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA) KodakGallery.Com-Sierra Nevada
7 Peter Mazur (Pol) Prodir-Saunier Duval
8 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Discovery Channel
9 Jeffry Louder (USA) Health Net p/b Maxxis
10 Anthony Colby (USA) Targetraining
11 Cesar Augusto Grajales (Col) Navigators Insurance
12 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems
13 Jesse Anthony (USA) KodakGallery.Com-Sierra Nevada
14 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Prodir-Saunier Duval
15 Matthew Rice (Aus) Jelly Belly
General Classification With The BIG Day To Come
1 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 15.17.14
2 Thomas Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 0.04
3 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC 0.24
4 Nathan O’Neill (Aus) Health Net p/b Maxxis 0.55
5 Josй Enrique Gutierrez Cataluna (Spa) Phonak Hearing Systems 1.22
6 Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel 1.37
7 Christopher Baldwin (USA) Toyota-United Pro 1.41
8 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Discovery Channel 1.52
9 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Prodir-Saunier Duval 1.56
10 Brian Vandborg (Den) Team CSC 1.58
11 Jason McCartney (USA) Discovery Channel 2.12
12 Justin England (USA) Toyota-United Pro 2.46
13 Peter Mazur (Pol) Prodir-Saunier Duval 3.15
14 Viatcheslav Ekimov (Rus) Discovery Channel 3.17
15 Egoi Martinez De Esteban (Spa) Discovery Channel 3.30
Today’s race report provided by Chris Gutowsky of VйloSport Vacations. Check ‘em out for some great ideas for your next cycling trip. For more information, contact VйloSport Vacations at P.O. Box 1235, Bloomington, IN 47402, 800-988-9833, www.VeloVacations.com