After his teammate Teddy King sucked up enough points to win the KOM jersey for the day… okay that was lame. But what wasn’t lame was the Bissell team in today’s longest stage in Georgia, a 214.7 kilometers stage with three Cat 3 climbs including a last tough kicker at the end with only 2 km to go followed by a fast downhill to the finish.
A group of 4 riders escaped the peloton and stayed away for the almost the next 160 kilometres opening up a gap of over 11 minutes before the field started to get interested in chasing. The break was finally caught in the climb of the final KOM by a decimated field, and Richard England attacked, and raced down to the finish line to win the stage.
|“I knew that if I was in first around the corner, even though there were guys with good legs behind me, I knew I was still going to have a chance on the podium,” said England.
“I went around the corner and gave it everything I had to the finish line and ended up coming out on front.”
|Photo by Ken Conley|
After a flurry of attacks, the right composition was found and a break stuck after about one hour of racing. The GC contenders’ teams were happy to let the four men as they basically decided to let tomorrow’s stage, Brasstown Bald dictate the final winner of the Tour of Georgia.
|Let’s take a closer look at the four men in the break.
Teddy King (Bissell), Tim Johnson (Health Net-Maxxis), Valeriy Kobzarenko (Team Type 1) and Cam Evans (Symmetrics) all got tremendous airtime on the live streaming as only one camera motorcycle was working and stayed with the break.
|Photo by Ken Conley|
Canadian road Champion Cam Evans is coming off a win in the San Dimas stage race where he won by one second over Rock Racing’s Oscar Sevilla. According to the Symmetrics’ website, the 24-year old Evans is studying Human Kinetics and plans to pursue a career in sports medicine.
“I think all the guys are riding really well, so that’s the good part. The downside is that a lot of the races we’ve had to fund out of our pockets. The morale on the team is still pretty good, it’s helped that everyone is riding well. I rode well in San Dimas,” said Evans about the financial hurdles the team is facing. “I would definitely like to do a good ride in Georgia, then we’ll kind of reevaluate a bit after that and then we’ll hopefully go into Philly Week and Beauce with a good strong team.”
Three time Olympian and former Ukrainian road champion Valeriy Kobzarenko, known as Kobza, raced for the Navigators team starting in 2006, and hen the team folded at the end of last year, DS Ed Beamon brought him over to Team Type 1.
“We made a big effort to make sure that we brought some of the Navigators guys back, (Glen Chadwick) Chaddy, Kobza and (Ben) Brooks were three guys that have traditionally been that been, for the last 3 years, kind of the backbone guys for the Navigators program, it was good to be able to bring those guys across.” said Beamon about bringing Navigators’ riders over to Team Type 1, including 31-year old Kobzarenko.
Teddy King is no stranger to long breakaways as he was part of the brutal weather five-hour break during Stage 4 of the Tour of California. The 25 year old, KOM winner at the San Dimas stage race, tried to initiate multiple breaks in today’s stage, and has been with the Bissell (or Priority Health) team for the past three years.
“I am going to try to help out as much as possible.” said King, blog author, when asked about his goals for 2008 with Bissell earlier this year.
Current US Cyclocross champion Tim Johnson is road captain for the Health Net-Maxxis squad is no stranger to long breakaways, as he was a member of the group that put in over 20 minutes gap in Stage 3 of the Tour de Georgia in 2007. After a full road season on 2007, Johnson jumped into the cyclocross season culminating with his ‘cross National championship, 8 years after his first victory in that race.
“It felt great, it was nice to have it happen after so many years, to win again this year made m realize that I’ve been around for awhile, it’s been 8 years between wins.” said Johnson about winning the cyclocross championship again. “I think it was (sweeter the second time around) for sure because the first time was a big surprise and this time, definitely something that I wanted, it was good.”
After racing cyclocross races in Europe, Johnson went straight to the Tour of California and then finally took a break with the Tour of Georgia as his first race back.
Back to the race. The four men worked well together and stayed clear for more than four hours only being caught on the final climb with 2k to go. At that point, the goal was to be the first one across the top and positioned well for the downhill into the finish. Just before the catch, Johnson tried a last minute attack but the field reduced to 20 riders was charging too fast, but he did pick up the Most Aggressive jersey for his troubles.
Richard England was the first one to cross the line ahead of Rory Sutherland (Health Net-Maxxis) and George Hincapie (High Road).
After today’s action, Trent Lowe (Slipstream-Chipotle) moved to first place in the GC. Slipstream, which won Thursday’s Team Time Trial, has riders rounding out the G.C. Top 3 with David Zabriskie in second and Christian Vande Velde in third. Levi Leiphiemer and Chris Horner of Astana moved up to fourth and fifth, respectively, in the G.C.
As expected, stage Six, the “Queen Stage”, will decide the overall winner of the Tour de Georgia, as the last stage will be a fight for the sprinters and the points jersey. The riders will face an intense 142km odyssey through the Appalachian Mountains of north Georgia, encountering 2 climbs earning KOM points at Hogpen and Unicoi gaps before the stage finish at the highest spot in Georgia (4,783 feet), Brasstown Bald Mountain.
This should be a fight in the GC between Astana led by Levi Leipheimer and Slipstream.’s Trent Lowe and Christian Vande Velde. Hoping to take advantage of the duel will be Hincapie and Bobby Julich (CSC), and Oscar Sevilla (Rock Racing). Others, such as BMC’s Scott Nydam and Darren Lill and Jittery Joe’s Neil Shirley will be trying the glory of the stage win on Brasstown and looking to move up in GC.
Also up for graps is the KOM jersey, with Team Type 1 and Symmetrics hoping to get in the early break to try and wrap up the jersey.
All in all, it should be a great day for the spectators.