Tour de Geogia Stage 2 – JJ Haedo pips it on the line

Posted on 22. Apr, 2008 by in race

JJ Haedo Sprints to Victory - (c) Ken Conley CSC’s JJ Haedo pipped Greg Henderson and yellow jersey Ivan Dominguez to win the bunch sprint in the second stage in the Tour de Georgia.

Haedo is recovering from a broken wrist and riding with a taped up hand. He took it gingerly in yesterday’s stage, but felt good today and let’er rip.

Photo by Ken Conley

“I decided in the last 5 K (kilometers) that I would know if I wanted to be in the sprint. I just wanted to be safe, so I managed to stay in the front and I found Ivan’s (Dominguez) wheel; so I think it was the perfect lead out,” said Haedo,

The expected flurry attacks were off the front at the beginning of the 117 mile stage but none of the teams like the composition so all potential breaks were reeled in, until Toyota-United’s Justin England just rolled off the front and found himself, to his surprise, in a solo break.

The Toyota-United’s team strategy for the stage was to try and put a man in any move so that the team, as the yellow jersey owner, wouldn’t have to chase and could rest as much as possible before the expected bunch sprint. But a solo move was not in the cards.

“Our Directors told us at last nights meeting to make sure we are in all the early moves to protect Ivan’s yellow jersey. I was in a breakaway dangling off the front with Dominique Rollin and a few others and when I took my pull, I went a little harder than usual and the guy behind me let a gap open and the next thing I knew, I had 5 seconds, 10 seconds, a minute and I was gone” said Justin England.

And gone he was, for the next 20 miles until he was joined by Jelly Belly’s Brice Mead and Rhys Pollock (GE Trek – Marco Polo). The field was quite happy to let the trio dangle in front, given them a gap of over 7 minutes before catching them with about 11 miles to go. Last ditch attacks were tried but the peloton would have none of it as they streamed through the 2 finishing circuits in Augusta, Georgia.

Toyota-United set up their train perfectly, but the headwind was just a bit too much for Dominguez, and the fastest man that day, JJ Haedo won the sprint, with High Road’s Henderson coming into second.

At 150m to go I thought I was going to pull it off but I couldn’t get into the 11 cog,” Henderson explained. I don’t don’t really want to blame my gears thought. At least I proved I have good speed and I’ve got another opportunity to go for it tomorrow.”

No changes in the yellow jersey with Dominguez still the leader going into the third stage.

“It was still an excellent day for our team. Ivan on the podium for a second day in a row and keeping the yellow jersey, a job well done”, said Toyota-United’s Dominique Rollin.

The cheeky move of the day has to go to Health Net-Maxxis’s Frank Pipp, a sprinter who took the only KOM points on a cat 4 climb. With no KOM points for the next 2 stages, he and his team will get some publicity. All the teams knew and tried for the KOM points including BMC, but Pipp went early and had teammate (and big guy) Rory Sutherland sweeping his wheel. Nice.

The lame move of the day has to be the race organization that awarded the Most Aggressive jersey to Pollock instead of giving it to the obvious choice England. When cyclingnews asked Medalist Jim Birrell about it, he did admit that the fact that GE was a sponsor of the race might have impacted the decision. How can they expect the race to be taken seriously when calls like this – or remember the 9km neutralized finish in the Santa Rosa stage of Tour of California 2007 – lame.

A mass pile up with 700m to go caused some chaos, but no major injuries to any riders except some road rash. Jittery Joe’s Cody Stevenson gives an up close and personal view of the road rash in this youtube video.

Leipheimer and Nydam - (c) Ken Conley Training partners and friends Leipheimer and Nydam at the start
Photo by Ken Conley

“I think, you know coming especially from Boulder, just kind of knowing what the top pros do out there being in group ride and stuff, just Levi’s level of efficiency is just incredible, there’s not a moment that he’s not doing something intentional in his training ride. So it’s being productive and using your time wisely, it’s huge. There’s nobody in Boulder and as far as I know in cycling, training this hard. A year ago, I’d come back from most of the rides just completely shattered probably because I wouldn’t ride within my limit, which I didn’t even know what it was. But having more foresight, and taking a better approach at things, I’ve definitely been able to gauge my efforts a lot more wisely, not go too deep and go into a hole trying to say on Levi’s wheel during the climbs and stuff. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from him is his approach towards training and that if you get your shit together you can train that much more effectively.” said Nydam about what he learned from training with Leipheimer.

Dominguez also leads the Sprint Competition with 25 points over second place Greg Henderson who has 23 points. Toyota-United also leads the Team Classification category over Team High Road and thirteen other teams.

Tomorrow’s stage 3 is a rolling course totaling 108.2 miles from Washington to Gainesville. This is the last stage for the opportunistic attacks to try and get a win before the TTT and the climbing stages.

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