– Reported by Chris Gutowsky of VeloSport Vacations. Chris is calling the ‘official’ action as it happens for the race organizers – and shares his adventures of the day as a special feature for PEZ .
Due to the twenty-nine minute time loss suffered on Stage 3 by the two Discovery stars, the real battle for GC took place over a minute behind, where CSC rider Christian Vandevelde battled AT&T yellow-jersey wearer Janez Brajkovic (Discovery Channel).
Despite numerous efforts by the older American rider, the young Slovenian gamely hung on and the two finished together, 1:38 behind the winner in 9th and 10th place. With two flat-profile stages remaining, there is little opportunity for 2nd-place overall Vandevelde to make up the unchanged twelve second gap Brajkovic gained in Thursday’s time trial.
The action began shortly after the neutral lap around downtown Dalton, with a flurry of attacks that kept the field in a strung out line through the 1st intermediate sprint line in Chatsworth and onto the Category 2 Fort Mountain climb just beyond. With continual pressure on the climb from Slipstream’s Danny Pate, Navigator’s Phil Zajicek and Gilberto Simoni (Prodir-Saunier Duval), a front group began to form, eventually containing eighteen riders.
Anthony Colby had a true break-out ride today to finish 3rd – the highest placed rider out of the original break.
Near the summit, Ryder Hesjedal (Health Net-Maxxis), attacked for the mountain points and the group splintered. The subsequent re-grouping after the descent saw eight riders come together, including Pate, Hesjedal, Zajicek, Alesandre Moos (BMC), Ben Day (Navigators), Chris Baldwin (Toyota-United), Michael Blaudzun (CSC), and Anthony Colby (Colavita-Sutter Home). They worked smoothly together to build a gap that reached the 5:30 range.
Nathan O’Neill had by far his best ride ever up Brasstown Bald today to finish just over a minute behind Grand Tour contenders Leipheimer and Danielson. HUGE Ride from the Georgia ‘native.’
At this point, most of the Jittery Joe’s squad went to the front and, with some help from Prodir team, they succeeded in slowly bringing down the gap. As the front group neared the top of Category 3 climb Wolfpen Gap, the gap was fluctuating around 2:30. The chase for the mountain points split the group, as Baldwin, Zajicek and Day all lost contact, either on the climb or after a subsequent solo attack by Moos approaching the base of Brasstown.
With the front of the main group less than two minutes behind, it was just a matter of time before the surging front-runners caught and passed the break members on the final climb. Colby had an amazing ride to hang on for 3rd, while Moos and Hesjedal took 6th and 7th, with the latter also taking over the United Community Bank KOM jersey. Another noteworthy finish was the 8th place snagged by John Devine, a great showing for the USA Development Squad.
Sprinting should be the focus on tomorrow’s stage, a lightly rolling 117 mile jaunt from Lake Lanier Islands to Stone Mountain Park.
Tom Danielson was once again sterling on the gnarly slopes of Brasstown Bald.
Notes & Nonsense
– Corrections Dept 1: We noted after Stage 3 that several of the USA Development riders sprinted for the fun of it at the front of the main field, arriving at the finish twenty-nine minutes behind the leaders. Evidently this was not the case, as Team Manager Noel DeJonckheere reminded them over the radio there were still places (and money!) at stake. If you arrive a day late, why be a dollar short too?
– Corrections Dept 2: The Dalton community provided a very nice welcome for the stage start and the local news media has provided great support for the event. But we did note in the local paper that today’s front page story printed the altitude for Brasstown Bald as 14,000 feet (actually 4784 feet). But it WAS hard….
The view from the top…
– In-Deep-S–t Dept: Race photogs are known for finding interesting viewpoints in their never-ending search for an original shot and it’s always fun in the race caravan to note truly creative efforts. One non-American shooter was seen today off-roading with his driver on their moto, headed back towards the course through a large cow-field. Waiting for them at roadside was the pissed-off farmer himself — we’re still waiting for the final word on the outcome.
Stage 5 Results
1 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 4.33.33
2 Thomas Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 0.38
3 Anthony Colby (USA) Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light 1.00
4 Nathan O’neill (Aus) Health Net presented by Maxxis 1.06
5 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval – Prodir 1.19
6 Alexandre Moos (Swi) BMC Racing Team 1.25
7 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Health Net presented by Maxxis 1.29
8 John Devine (USA) USA National Development Team 1.30
9 Christian Vandevelde (USA) Team CSC 1.38
10 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
1 Janez Brajkovic (Slo) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 18.57.03
2 Christian Vandevelde (USA) Team CSC 0.12
3 David Canada Gracia (Spa) Saunier Duval – Prodir 3.04
4 Rubens Bertogliati (Swi) Saunier Duval – Prodir 3.06
5 Kevin Seeldrayers (Bel) Quick Step – Innergetic 4.22
6 Scott Nydam (USA) BMC Racing Team 5.35
7 Jeffry Louder (USA) Health Net presented by Maxxis 6.00
8 Timothy Johnson (USA) Health Net presented by Maxxis 6.59
9 Lucas Euser (USA) Team Slipstream 10.08
10 Ivan Santaromita (Swi) Quick Step – Innergetic 12.15
11 Tyler Wren (USA) Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light 12.26
12 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 24.48
13 Thomas Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 26.57
14 Nathan O’neill (Aus) Health Net presented by Maxxis 27.15
15 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC 28.21
16 Anthony Colby (USA) Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light 28.55
17 Ryder Hesjedal (Can) Health Net presented by Maxxis 29.09
18 Danny Pate (USA) Team Slipstream 29.55
19 Gilberto Simoni (Ita) Saunier Duval – Prodir 30.00
20 George Hincapie (USA) Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 30.17
Today’s race report provided by Chris Gutowsky of VeloSport Vacations. Check em out for some great ideas for your next cycling trip. For more information, contact VeloSport Vacations at P.O. Box 1235, Bloomington, IN 47402, 800-988-9833, www.VeloVacations.com