Photos by Jaime Nichols
Fred Rodriguez of Vini Calderola-Sidermec took first place in Stage 4 of the Tour de Georgia today, followed by Chris Horner of Saturn in second and Alan Iacuone of Flanders-iteamNova in third.
The three came in with a group of eight that included Nathan O'Neill, Michael Barry, Roland Green, Tom Danielson and David Zabriskie.
Henk Vogels lost around five minutes today, so Chris Horner will take over the leader's jersey.
In a report by Richard Fries to AdventureSports Radio earlier from Woody Gap, the Flanders rider in the break was David Mackenzie, but in fact the rider was Iacuone.
At the 6 mile mark was a breakaway under cool and cloudy skies that lasted until the 75 mile mark, which was on the approach of the second KOM. By this second climb the skies had cleared and the weather was downright hot.
On the climb Saturn's Danielson, O'Neill and Horner, as well as Rodriguez, Barry, a bearded Green and Zabriskie from Postal, and Flanders' Iacuone took off. As they began the descent they had a minute on the gruppo, though the entire peloton was chasing like mad, the entire race at tremendous speed. Fries said that Vogels was whipping his horses like Moses, but the escapees continued to gain time...
Team Saturn Report by Giana Roberge
Today was the day many teams were waiting for at the Dodge Tour of Georgia as early reports on the stage deemed Stage four likely to be the deciding stage of the Tour. The Saturn Team in particular was keen to get to this fifth day of racing and be able to finally utilize their team's climbing strength. The first challenge of the day was the 13 kilometer climb of Fort Mountain which had an elevation gain of 640 meters after 44 kilometers of racing. From there the course took the riders over tough terrain, rolling up through Ellijay and across the Chattahoochee National Forest for 70 kilometers. From there, another climb, this time 10 kilometers up to Woody Gap, provided one more opportunity for the climbers to loose themselves of the sprinters, and for the Saturn Team to attack Henk Vogels and his Navigator Team.
The race got hold on to your seats exciting when with 187 kilometers to go a break of six launched away from the field. In it were Saturn's Phil Zajicek, Floyd Landis (US Postal-Berry Floor), Dominique Perras (Flanders-Iteamnova), Peter Knudsen (Schroeder Iron), Aaron Olson (Schroeder Iron), Svein Tuft (Prime Alliance), and Dave Wyandt (Webcor). Rabbobank did have representation, however, he dropped back to the main group, and the six worked well together, opening a gap of over three minutes. The gap held steady at 3:30 with Navigators setting tempo behind the break for race leader Vogels. Up front, Landis was pushing the pace, rocketing up the climb, thru the narrow and heavily tree lined roads.
Coming into the second main climb, the gap to the six steadily decreased. By the base of the climb, the break of six was absorbed having been brought to a close by Saturn's efforts. The counterattacks were immediate, forming a new break which quickly gained one minute on the descent. This group consisted of three Saturn riders, Tom Danielson, Chris Horner, and second placed Nathan O'Neill. Joining the three Saturnites was three from US Postal: Michael Barry, Rolland Green and David Zabriskie. Yesterday's winner, Fred Rodriguez (Vini Caldirola-Sidermec), and Australian Allan Iacuone (Flanders-Iteamnova) brought the total count of the group to eight. The eight worked fastidiously to push the pace, sensing this was the opportunity all had been looking for. Behind, Vogels was over two minutes in a second chase group, trying desperately to come to terms with what was definitely the race winning move.
With five kilometers to go the gap rounded off to over three minutes, and Vogels' group was out of the game entirely, 6:15 behind the lead group. With nearly three kilometers to go, Barry had a clever attack and managed to slip away with Rodriguez. Although they had an initial gap, the three Saturn riders were quick to close it down. Once the group came back together, Green countered with O'Neill covering it. The US Postal team was relentless in their attacks, sending one after another of their riders, taunting the Saturn Team to keep it together. Despite the excellent and aggressive racing by Postal, the three Saturn men were adamant to keep it together, and in the end it was a sprint for the top honors.
Saturn used what they had left in terms of horsepower to lead out Horner, but with 500 meters to go, it was Rodriguez slipping by Horner for his second win in as many days. Iacuone was third. Horner moved into the lead, with his teammate O'Neill sitting in second.
With only a final day to go in the Dodge Tour of Georgia, and now plenty of experience defending a Yellow Leader's Jersey, the Saturn Team is once again sitting in what looks to be a sturdy position for yet another overall victory. However, proving unwilling to give in easily today, it is certain that Rodriguez and the Postal Team will be in the hunt for any opportunity to shake Horner of the Yellow Fleece in tomorrow's stage. If Saturn does manage to finish in Yellow tomorrow eve, it will not have been an easy victory to come by. The US Postal Team has had one of their strongest showings on American soil, and along with the Navigator Team and Rodriguez all have all challenged the Saturn Team with their aggressive racing and relentless attacks. In an ironic note, Rodriguez now sits unofficially 24 seconds behind the Saturn duo. He was accessed an unfortunate time penalty of 20 seconds early in the race for drafting off his team vehicle after a crash, making the time penalty a stinging reality as the day comes to a close in Georgia.
It was a tough day today for the Navigators squad at the 2003 Tour of Georgia. After 3 stages of protecting the Yellow Jersey of race leader Henk Vogels, today's tough 124-mile (200Km) stage through the hills of Northern Georgia took its toll on the Navigators men in blue. Undoubtedly the most difficult stage of the event, the riders faced very unforgiving terrain, as well as 2 KOM summits. The first climb featured 8.25-miles of 6%-17% gradient and came at the 27-mile mark, while the second KOM came at the 87-mile mark and featured a gradient of 7%-12% for 6.1-miles.
After several parade laps through Dalton, the hometown of the race's "Best Young Rider" leader Saul Raisen (Ofoto), the riders headed out on the road. Barely 10-miles into the racing action an opportunistic group of 7 were able to gain an advantage. Floyd Landis (US Postal Service), Dominique Perras (Flanders-iTeamNova), Phil Zajicek (Saturn), Pete Knudson and Aaron Olsen (both Schroeder Iron), Svein Tuft (Prime Alliance) and Addy Engels (Rabobank) were driving hard and working well.
After averaging 26 MPH for the first hour of racing, the race then hit the first KOM climb. Although long, and steep in sections, the field only split into 3, but then re-grouped on the fast descent following the climb. The breakaway continued to maintain a lead of 3:30 on the Navigators-led peloton. Over the next 50-miles of continuously hilly terrain, the squad protected the Yellow Jersey with a steady pace while controlling the front.
At the 72-mile mark an attack by U.S. Professional National Road Champion Chann McRae (Schroeder Iron) and Thorwald Veneberg (Rabobank) gained about 30-seconds on the peloton. With the final KOM only 15-miles away, the Jelly Belly team assisted in the effort and began to help reel in the 2 attackers as well as the group of now 6 that were still up the road. Once they reached the climb, the peloton quickly disintegrated into several groups as the last of the breakaways were caught and the key climb commenced. Race leader Henk Vogels continued to have the support of his teammates, but couldn't match the pace of the strongest climbers as they neared the top.
The first group of 8 crested the hill with a :50 gap over the next group of about 25 that contained Navigators' Jeff Louder. Henk and teammate Chris Baldwin were another :45 in arrears with 6 others. Chris and Henk drove hard down the descent and through the large crowds that welcomed the race in Dahlonega, but were slowly losing time to the leaders. The 8 leaders; Roland Green, Michael Barry and David Zabriskie (all US Postal), Chris Horner, Tom Danielson and Nathan O'Neill (all Saturn), Fred Rodriguez (Vini Calderola-Sidermec) and Alan Iacuone (Flanders-iTeamNova) worked to stay clear of the chasers. With their gap remaining steady at 1:00 over the final 25-miles, it was evident that the stage winner would be coming from this group.
In the final rush to the line in the city of Gainesville, it was Fred Rodriguez taking his second stage consecutive stage win. As expected, the overall G.C. was rearranged as the strongest and freshest riders in the field made their mark on the race. The action finishes up tomorrow with the final 88-mile (142Km) circuit race in downtown Atlanta.
Stage 4 Results (Official)
1. Fred Rodriguez (Usa-Vini Calderola-Sidermec) 4:49:22
2. Chris Horner (Usa - Saturn) s.t.
3. Alan Iacuone (Aus - Flanders-iteamNova) s.t.
4. Roland Green (Can - US Postal) s.t.
5. Michael Barry (Usa - US Postal) s.t.
6. David Zabriskie (Usa - US Postal) at 5 seconds
7. Nathan O'Neill (Aus - Saturn) s.t.
8. Tom Danielson (Usa - Saturn) s.t.
9. Scott Guyton (Nzl - Flanders-iteamNova) at 1:18
10. David Clinger (Usa - Prime Alliance) at 1:23
General Classification after Stage 4
1. Chris Horner 19.57'57"
2. Nathan O'Neill 12"
3. Roland Green 18"
4. Fred Rodriguez 18"
5. Michael Barry 21"
6. David Zabriskie 24"
7. Tom Danielson 25"
8. Alan Iacuone 27"
9. John Lieswyn 1'37"
10. Scott Guyton 1'37"
Leader's Jersey: Chris Horner
Sprint Jersey: Fred Rodriguez
1. Chris Horner
2. Fred Rodriguez
3. Nathan O'Neill
Best Young Rider Jersey: Saul Raisin
Tomorrow, Horner will wear the Leader's Jersey, Rodriguez will wear the
Sprinter's Jersey and O'Neill will the King of the Mountain Jersey.