Stage Six: Blairsville/Union County - Alpharetta, 125.2 miles/201.5 km
Teammates Fraser and Henderson cross one and two on today's final stage. Photo (c) Celia Cole.
In front of massive crowds, Discovery Channel Pro Cycling's Tom Danielson, 27, of Durango, Colorado, a former collegiate mountain bike champion, captured the yellow Dodge Race Leader jersey, winning the 2005 Dodge Tour de Georgia with a final time of 26.53.44. Stage 6 ended in the Metro Atlanta
suburb of Alpharetta with Gord Fraser of Health Net p/b Maxxis winning the bunch sprint for the stage victory with a time of 4.59. Following close behind was teammate Greg Henderson (NZL) for second and Aurélien Clerc (SUI) of the Swiss team Phonak for third with the same time.
The final stage began in Blairsville, Ga., deep in the North Georgia Mountains and headed south toward Atlanta. A four man break was away at 68 miles, while Team LPR and Navigators applied the pressure to lead the peloton into Alpharetta. At mile 82, with the break holding a 3 min 20 sec. gap
while Discovery did most of the work. 91 miles into the race, with an average speed 24 miles per hour, the chase began closing in on the break, finally swallowing it on the finishing circuits. After six tough circuits, Fraser claimed victory.
Levi Leipheimer (USA) on the German Gerolsteiner squad finished second overall with a final time of 26.53.48., and Phonak's Floyd Landis ended third in the General Classification nine seconds back. In the jersey competition, Henderson held onto the Maxxis Sprint jersey for the entire race, and
after spending two days in the Georgia Power King of the Mountains jersey, José Luis Rubiera (ESP) walked away the best climber. Trent Lowe, a youngster on the Jittery Joe's-Kalahari team out of Athens, Georgia, was the best placed rider under 23 years of age and won the GE Best Young Rider jersey.
Dodge Tour de Georgia--The Dodge Tour de Georgia is America’s premier, professional cycling event and a rolling festival of community activities. The 2005 world-class event is scheduled for April 19-24. In 2004, nearly 750,000 spectators watched along the roadways as 15 international teams
competed across 653 miles of the state of Georgia, having an estimated economic impact of $35-70 million. Won by Lance Armstrong, the 2004 race featured world-class cyclists and Tour de France veterans such as American Bobby Julich (a 2004 Olympic Games medalist), Italian Mario Cipollini and German
Jens Voigt. The Tour is sanctioned by the UCI (2.1 America Tour-Continental Calendar), the international governing body of cycling, and USA Cycling (2.1) as a premier event for elite athletes around the world. The Tour’s official beneficiary is the Georgia Cancer Coalition (GCC), and the race
proactively promotes a healthy lifestyle at its Healthy Georgia Expo. The Dodge Tour de Georgia, which started in 2003, is owned and operated by the Georgia Partnership for Economic Development. For more information, visit www.dodgetourdegeorgia.com.
The jersey winners...
...got a little crazy. Photos by Doug Arnold.
The Health Net Presented by Maxxis Report
Fraser, Henderson go one-two in finale. Henderson wraps up points jersey.
The Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis will leave the Dodge Tour de Georgia with exactly what it came for: a stage win and a leader’s jersey.
Canadian national champion Gord Fraser came across the line, arms raised to take the final stage. Glued to his wheel in second place came Kiwi Greg Henderson, wearing the orange Maxxis Points Jersey, which he would wear onto the final podium as well. “Hendy was pretty tired coming into the
stage,” said Jeff Corbett, directeur sportif of the Oakland, California-based Health Net Presented by Maxxis team. “But Gord was getting stronger after starting out the first couple days of the tour still feeling the effects of the flu he had at Redlands. When it came down to the end of the stage, we
switched our plan around from trying to set up Hendy to seeing if we couldn’t get him glued to Gord’s wheel coming into the finish and at least get him a top-ten placing so he could get enough points to keep the Maxxis sprint jersey. It was great to see him stick to Gord’s wheel all the way to the
Greg Henderson. Photo by Doug Arnold.
Health Net Presented by Maxxis gets a break
Before the stage, Fraser noted that one of two things needed to happen for Henderson to keep his jersey. Either things had to stay together and they got him points in both intermediate sprints, or more ideally, a break composed of non-contenders for the sprint jersey went up the road and took out
all the points in the intermediates.
When Andrea Tafi (Prodir-Saunier Duval) once again had a go at a break in an effort to get that elusive final win of his career, he did Health Net Presented by Maxxis, as well as Discovery, a huge favor. Tafi attacked just after the feed zone mid-way through the race, with still more than 20 Km
until the first intermediate sprint.
Tafi was quickly joined by Danny Pate (Jelly Belly-Pool Gel), Dominique Perras (Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada) and Sven Krauss (Gerolsteiner). With none of the four a threat to either the overall lead held by Tom Danielson (Discovery) or Henderson’s points jersey, both teams were content to let the
four attackers roll off the front and establish a lead that for a time topped three minutes. Discovery patrolled the front of the bunch and made sure the break didn’t get out of hand, but with Pate the highest placed on GC at more than nine minutes back, they weren’t too concerned.
With 55 Km to go, the Italian Continental pro team LPR took over pace-making and began to reel in the break in an effort to set up their young sprinter, Danilo Napolitano. Despite good work from the four attackers, LPR steadily cut into their lead. Their work gave Health Net Presented by Maxxis a
break, but with 38 Km to go, a couple of the guys went to the front to help out LPR.
By the time the break had hit the first of six finishing circuits with about 35 Km to go, their gap had been reduced to just 1:15, and it became apparent that Tafi would again be disappointed on this day. Once on the finishing circuits, Discovery went to the front to look after Danielson and to
help out LPR. With those two teams on the front, Fraser and Henderson could sit in right behind and conserve much energy before the finish.
With 22 Km to go, Corbett ordered the rest of the troops to the front to start gaining more control over the race and to ensure that the break, which was hovering 30 seconds ahead, didn’t stay away, despite the best efforts of the eternally strong, 39-year-old Tafi.
With three laps to go, Pate attacked and shattered the small break. Only Krauss could stay with the former Health Net Presented by Maxxis rider. Soon, Tafi was back in the peloton. Even with Pate’s attack, the break was down to under 15 seconds. Finally, with just 10 Km to go, it was groupo
compacto, with LPR and Discovery back on the front setting tempo, with Health Net Presented by Maxxis well represented right behind them.
Coming into the final 5.9 Km circuit, LPR kept the pace high, with the peloton strung out in a line behind them. Napolitano was protected, but Health Net was right behind them waiting to challenge the young sprinter who already has five victories in Europe this season. Even so, Tafi had one more
go at it coming across the finish line at the beginning of the final circuit, but the gap of 50 meters he opened was short-lived. On the final lap, the pace stayed high to discourage further attacks. With 3 Km to go, it was Chris Wherry of Health Net Presented by Maxxis on the front driving the
peloton, with the help of Floyd Landis, who might have been looking for one last chance to make up the nine seconds separating him from Danielson.
The last couple kilometers saw a succession of riders from different teams on the front of the group. Coming into the final kilometer, no single team had taken control of the sprint, and riders were all across the road in what was quickly becoming a chaotic finish, with almost every team having a
go at an elusive stage win.
Somehow, Fraser found his way through the pack with Henderson, adorned in the bright orange Maxxis points jersey, in tow. By the time they both hit the line, arms raised, they had a full bike length on Credit Agricole’s Aurelien Clerc. In those final few seconds, the team had achieved its two
main goals for the Dodge Tour de Georgia.
The 15 points Fraser earned for the win jumped him up to third in the points competition, but the 12 for Henderson gave him a convincing 40-24 in over second place Lance Armstrong. Justin England finished with the pack and held onto his 14th place overall. Scott Moninger also stayed in 20th.
Their high finishes helped Health Net Presented by Maxxis to 5th place in the overall team competition behind ProTour teams Discovery, CSC, Prodir-Saunier Duval and Gerolsteiner. Of the 121 riders who started the Dodge Tour de Georgia, only 81 finished.
Post Race Press Conference Comments
Andrea Tafi (ITA) - Prodir-Saunier Duval - Most Aggressive Rider
"I decided for coming because it's a very good race for me, but I see it's too very hard. But I'm very happy. Today I tried for winner."
"This morning when I pulled my jersey I look in front of mirror and I think of all season and as a professional."
(Andrea donated his last jersey to the Georgia Cancer Coalition. It will be auctioned off on the Internet. All proceeds benefit the Georgia Cncer Coalition.)
Andrea Tafi got a little misty today - he received a huge ovation when the crowd learned this would be his final professional appearance in the US. Photo by Doug Arnold.
Gord Fraser (USA) - Health Net presented by Maxxis - Stage 6 Winner
"Anytime you can win a race of this caliber it's a great honor. I just seem to have incredible success in Georgia whether it be here at the Dodge Tour or the Athens Twilight or..."
"We were very interested in having a bunch sprint not only to chance to win the stage, but to also wrap up the Maxxis Sprint jersey."
"To win here two years in a row, it's overwhelming. It's a great momentum builder for the team. We've done very well this year. To prove yourself against top level competition that they have here at the Dodge Tour is very rewarding for Healthnet Maxxis."
"The race was one of the best races I've been to for many reasons. One of them being that it's in America. It probably won't take a whole lot of convincing to get us to come back. We had a great time. We all hope that it goes on for a long time."
Trent Lowe (AUS) - Jittery Joe's-Kalahari - GE Best Young Rider
"It's pretty crazy. We really are the local team. So many fans out there. I'm not used to being mobbed by people who want autographs. It's new to me. It's been a fun week. I've really enjoyed myself. I can really appreciate a race with such great riders here."
Forget the autographs - this is what it's all about... A very happy Trent Lowe. Photo by Doug Arnold.
Floyd Landis (USA) - Phonak - Third Overall
"It was outstanding (the team's finish). The goal was to win the race. I didn't come here planning to win the time trial. After that, clearly the objective was to try to hold on to the lead, but it doesn.t always work out."
Tom Danielson (USA) - Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team - Overall Winner
"This one ranks quite a bit above that one (his win in Malaysia in 2003)."
"I'm very proud to get this result for the team. Everyone was incredible."
"I've found a home, and I'm looking forward to spending many years here with Discovery Channel."
"The tactics of the day were pretty simple. Put the team on the front and keep us out of trouble. They (the team) were amazing. I knew I was in good hands from the beginning of the day. The end was rather stressful for me."
"To have them (the team) looking after you is another incredible experience. It just wrapped up an incredible week."
"The strongest team won this race. We used our whole team for this victory. This is a team victory. It's a great course. It's very, very difficult. There are very good teams. It's exciting to be here."
Tom Danielson. Photo by Doug Arnold.
Lance Armstrong (USA) - Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team
"No trouble today. It was fairly controlled like last year. Very windy, gusty, a little chilly."
"For me, I'm just as happy to see the team win as I am to get an individual win. The object remains the Tour (de France), and I think I'm
"Tom (Danielson) is riding great. I think he'll do a good Giro."
"The first thing I do now is soak up as much time with my kids and continue to train, continue to gain fitness."
"I didn't think I was good enough to win, but I felt better toward the end of the race than I did at the beginning so that's
a good sign."
Stage Six Brief Results
1 Gord Fraser (Can) Health Net/Maxxis
2 Greg Henderson (NZl) Health Net/Maxxis
3 Aurelien Clerc (Swi) Phonak
4 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) LPR
5 Rene Haselbacher (Aut) Gerolsteiner
6 Christian Muller (Ger) CSC
7 David O'Loughlin (Irl) Navigators
8 Christian Vandevelde (USA) CSC
9 Portal Sebastien (Fra) Credit Agricole
10 Vassili Davidenko (Rus) Navigators
The final podium. Photo by Doug Arnold.
Final General Classification
1 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 26.53.44
2 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner 0.04
3 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems 0.09
4 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC 1.10
5 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 1.41
6 David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC 3.04
7 Marco Pinotti (Ita) Prodir - Saunier Duval 3.11
8 Nathan O'Neill (Aus) Navigators Insurance 3.14
9 Michael Blaudzun (Den) Team CSC 3.51
10 José Azevedo (Por) Discovery Channel 3.58
Final Sprint Classification
1 Gregory Henderson (NZl) Health Net pb Maxxis 40pts
2 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 24
3 Gordon Fraser (Can) Health Net pb Maxxis 21
4 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC 21
5 Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 19
The Discovery Channel Team. Photo by Doug Arnold.
Final Team General Classification
1 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team 80.46.15
2 Team CSC 1.11
3 Prodir - Saunier Duval 18.38
4 Gerolsteiner 26.09
5 Health Net Presented by Maxxis 34.27