– Reported by Chris Gutowsky of VйloSport Vacations
Despite the dicey spring weather, race fans and the caravan followers seem to be enjoying the race’s first edition since the retirement of superstar Lance Armstrong.
The town of Augusta kicked off yesterday’s stage one with an appearance by local legend James Brown, which made for a tough encore today for the stage 2 start in Fayetteville. A rumoured appearance by Armstrong did turn out to be true, though the contrast with soul-man Brown and his polished crowd-working technique was marked. The low-key arrival of the former-cyclist was easily upstaged by the jump-roping local grade-schoolers, who put on a stirring performance of fine footwork to, you guessed it, The ‘Devil Came Down To Georgia’.
If the crowd was moved by this morning’s pre-race performances, this was hardly true for the peleton, which rolled off at training ride pace that changed little for the first 80 miles. A solo attack by Alejandro Acton of Toyota-United Pro at mile ten did little to spice things up, though he did gradually build a 10-minute lead, staying well clear of the group through both intermediate bonus sprints. As the day wore on, the predicted spring thunderstorms arrived, dumping an hour’s worth of heavy rain and small hail on both stage leader Acton and the still lethargic peleton, a few miles behind.
With 25 miles to go, the Davitamon-Lotto and Phonak teams finally began to ride tempo at the front and the gap dropped rapidly. Other teams joined in with the approach of the first mountain point sprint of the race, situated on the entry to Rome and the finishing circuits. The fading Acton was caught just a few hundred meters from the hill top line, where Health Net’s Kirk O’Bee made a nifty move for the KOM points and the 1st mountain jersey.
The slower pace of the stage ensured that most riders hung on through the 3 rapid finishing circuits that followed, but Discovery’s pre-attack effort was hard enough to spring Popovych clear on the final hill and he held a final six-second gap at the line. He was trailed in by Toyota-United Pro’s Juan Jose Haedo and rival sprint specialist Fred Rodriguez/Davitamon-Lotto. After the various time-bonuses where calculated in, it was the Discovery rider in the race lead by 4 seconds over Fast Freddie, though the on-form American took over the overall sprint lead. He’s sure to hand onto the jersey for another day at least, though tomorrow’s time-trial will shake up the GC and give the first real look at the contenders for the overall.
Results: Tour de Georgia Stage 2
1. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel 4.47.39
2. Juan Josй Haedo (Arg) Toyota-United Pro 0.06
3. Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto
4. Karl Menzies (Aus) Health Net p/b Maxxis
5. Caleb Manion (Aus) Jelly Belly
6. Cesar Augusto Grajales (Col) Navigators Insurance 0.07
7. Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems
8. Robert Hunter (RSA) Phonak Hearing Systems
9. Florian Stalder (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems
10. Francisco Ventoso (Spa) Prodir-Saunier Duval
GC After Stage 2
1. Yaroslav Popovych (Ukr) Discovery Channel 9.33.15
2. Fred Rodriguez (USA) Davitamon-Lotto 0.04
3. Juan Josй 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
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