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Tour de Georgia: Traveling Marshal Day 2/3
By Staff
Date: 4/23/2003
Tour de Georgia: Traveling Marshal Day 2/3

By Chris Hurt

April 23, 2003: Prologue

So weíve been instructed to be on time everywhere we go, but at the prologue yesterday John and I were late to the first meeting because there were no coffee shops open at 7 am in downtown Savannah, so we had to make due with the greasy food and lethargic wait staff at the Days Inn restaurant.† Five minutes late and already a search party of our teammates is on the prowl looking for us.† Soon after we are located we are on a Sprinter (our official vehicle for the tour) to the Start/Finish line to begin the day's toil.

The sky is clear blue at 7:30 when we arrived, team cars, official Tour de Georgia vehicles and sponsors were all about.† A huge video screen was setup as well, but we never got to see it in action.† Instead we quickly set off to another ďinspirationalĒ meeting and thereafter sweeping the start/finish area, not the most romantic of tasks, but we did it as well as we could.† After that more meetings and then to posts around the course.† Using a bit of strategy I found post in the shade and set up camp there to keep folks off the course.† In my case this didnít end up being difficult since the lane I was guarding was of little interest to motor traffic.† So instead I only had to herd a couple of bikes and pedestrians along the way.

Pete Knudsen - Schroeder Iron. Photo by Michael Pugh.

This meant I got to watch the riders most of the time.† Some interesting things I noticed were that a lot of the smaller teams didnít have time trial bikes and in some instances didnít even have time trial bars.† The most noticeable of these being the Rabobank team and the Dutch national team which was somewhat confusingly also wearing Rabobank jerseys, albeit with different shorts.† It was also difficult to make out who was who along the course as I didnít have a list of the numbers and I was far enough from the announcer that I couldnít hear the names.† It was fun nonetheless to watch the guys go bombing around the corner just down the way from me.† It was also interesting to watch the moto-camera go blasting around the corner.† I spoke one of the moto guys after the race and he told me that a camera bike will have a driver/cameraman pair that will only work together, after watching them I can see why.† One last interesting thing was that some of the teams also didnít employ follow cars due to budgetary constraints, so some guys were zipping about with only a leading moto as escort.

All in all an excellent race to watch/work, people were for the most part very receptive to the race even if they didnít understand what was going on.† One thing the race organizers have done a good job of is letting us know that we should engage the local folks and try and explain what is happening in the race in order to create interest and a positive atmosphere.

After the race was more drudgework, although we did get to sneak into the VIP lounge for lunch and our libation of choice, I had a glass of wine, which made the rest of the day go a little quicker.

April 24th: Stage 1 Augusta-Macon

The 1st road stage today from Augusta to Macon, weíre informed the night before that we roll out at 6:30 AM for a long day.† So at 6:30 our team meets only to find out the we donít have to be anywhere for several hours, and of course we had already checked out.† Suck that did, but we made the best of it by heading to Dunkin Donuts for coffee and such.† The we went and scouted the route and cleared debris. Finally, around 9:30 I was let off at my post where I stood for an hour waiting for the first of the race caravan.

Photo by Michael Pugh.

It was cool to watch after the first car came, two deputies from the local sheriff showed up almost magically to assist (okay, to take over for the most part) in blocking the road.† Then came a large parade of motos ensuring the course was safe and free of cars.† A few minutes later the peloton cruises by at a relaxed pace.† Only a few stragglers behind and lots of chatting going on in the pack.† After the peloton the broom wagon came by indicating the official end of the race caravan.† Soon after the Sprinter showed up to get me and the rest of the team as we shuttled off to our next site.

I arrive at Sam Hill an hour or so later.† It is a stop sign out in the middle of nowhere, but itís beautiful and there is some nice shade.† A little while later some sheriffs deputies arrive to assist with the traffic followed later by a pair of Georgia State Troopers.† I have to say the police have all been helpful and organized which makes everything much easier for us marshals and the race in general.

Soon a lone breakaway arrives, someone from Sierra Nevada (a mechanic from the team later gives his name as Nico).† Six or seven minutes later the Saturn-led peloton cruises by with a couple of Posties keeping guard.† All appeared content to let the break suffer alone (later I learn that he was swallowed up after the next sprint point).

Saturn on the front. Photo by Michael Pugh.

There are no stragglers at this point, so Iím soon back to the shade of the tree waiting to go to the next drop and writing this account.

The day is done.† We raced (and I mean raced) from the second checkpoint to the third, but try as we might, we didnít make it there until just as the peloton went by.† We did call ahead and made sure some other folks were there.† This turned out to be a blessing, because we slipped into the caravan behind the broom wagon and followed the peloton into Macon.† It was really wild to see because the road was lined with people for much of the last bit into the city and there were a lot of kids.† As we passed by everyone waved at us and we waved back, enjoying the smiles on their faces.

As the peloton went to do its circuits of the town, we proceeded to the finish to be of any assistance we could.† For the most part we werenít needed so we got to watch as the Vogels-led peloton came streaming across the line.† There was some confusion afterwards about who won the sprint, but in the end it was the affable Vogels over Miguel Meza.

Tonight we ate dinner with all of the teams and got a chance to talk to some of the riders.† John and I spoke to Floyd Landis briefly, and he told us he felt pretty good today, hopefully heíll be in the mix for GC when we hit the mountains.†† We also had Frankie Andreu drop by our table for a few minutes.† A good finish to a long day.

Tomorrow we get to sleep in and then we are off, to where Iím not exactly sure.

Photo by Michael Pugh.

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Tour de Georgia Preview
Tour de Georgia: Traveling Marshal
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