After finishing on the podium every day, Saxo Bank’s JJ Haedo finally made it to the top step in Jefferson City. He surged to take the win in a chaotic sprint finish ahead of Thor Hushovd (Cervelo Test Team) and Dario Cataldo (Quick Step).
Though tied with Hushovd on time, Haedo became the new leader in the general classification as the officials had to go to the fourth tie breaker to determine the new leader. The first tie breaker is the position of the prior prologue if if exists. The second tie breaker is the aggregation of stage placings, where again Haedo and Hushovd tie. The third tie breaker is the number of stage wins, and you guessed it, the two sprinters are tied at one each. Finally, the fourth tie breaker is the highest placing in the stage which gave the yellow to Haedo, for the first time in his career.
“I’m not the best guy in the first days of a stage race so it’s hard sometimes getting a yellow jersey since I’m a sprinter. I guess I fought four days in a row and finally got it, I’m going to enjoy it as much as I can.” said Haedo.
Once again, the stage was won by a sprinter and the stage winner claimed the yellow jersey at the Tour of Missouri.
Drag Racing. The last rider of the long break of the day was caught at the beginning of the first lap of the two finishing circuits around the State Capitol with the Cervelo Test Team setting up its leadout train for yellow jersey Hushovd. The Saxo Bank squad also played another card trying to split the field to help oout their GC guys get some seconds on their competitors if possible.
“The team didn’t wait for the sprint, they tried to break the race apart because we have good guys for the time trial and it was important that we could get a little split time and that we get a little time in their favor. And in the case that that didn’t happen then they had me in the sprint and that’s what actually happened.” said Haedo.
With one lap to go, David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) took a flyer to disrupt the pack and then a crash on the backside, at 3 kilometers to go, took down or slowed down around 30 riders, increasing the chaos.
“We were pulling with a couple of guys but we lost Brett [Lancaster] in the crash and we missed one man for the lead-out.” said Hushovd.
Haedo was also caught behind the crash. “I barely got through, I chased down and got back at the roundabout in the back part. Thor was pretty hard to beat, I came from far back, I think I had a good momentum, I used the right legs at the right moment.”
At that point, it became every man for himself.
“I tried to go at 500 metres, a little too early but we had no choice. I lost a bit of speed in the climb and then JJ came from behind and we drag raced and he just beat me.” said Hushovd.
“With 150 meters to go, I hit it from behind, I think I got next to Thor with 120, 100 to go, from there to the line I got it, drag racing. ” explained Haedo.
The break. A few attacks off the bat as soon as the end of the neutral zone was reached as the field of 115 riders left St James with the right combination being found just a bit over 16 km (10 miles) into the race. Four riders, Bernard Van Ulden (Jelly Belly), Brad White (OUCH-Maxxis), Jeff Louder (BMC) and Mike Creed (Team Type 1). The four men worked well together, not digging too deep as they knew that the peloton would not give them more than a three minute leash.
“It was a long break but it wasn’t too bad. We were kind of feathering up there and we weren’t going super hard. We were kind of playing with the peloton a little bit. We knew they were going to keep us at like 2:30 or 3 minutes. So we weren’t riding super hard but, once the gap started going down we started turning it on.” explained White.
The Cervelo Test Team received plenty of assistance from the Garmin-Slipstream, Liquigas and Saxo Bank teams to control the chase.
With 25 kilometers to go, the four men hit the gas, hoping that either the pack would misjudge their timing in the catch or that the technical finishing circuits would assist in their escape. But unfortunately for them, the last man in the group, White, was caught as the field was climbing the Capitol Wall for the first of three times.
We were rolling good there for a while but they just had that extra momentum on us at the end.” said White who was awarded the Drury Hotels Most Aggressive Rider jersey.
No Cavendish. Just before the afternoon start in St. James, Team Columbia-HTC announced that consecutive stage winner Mark Cavendish had to withdraw from the race and would not continue. Cavendish had finished outside of the top three in the previous stage.
“Mark has been fighting an infection since traveling to the USA, which has spread to his lungs. He has had a long and successful season, and it is a team priority that his general health be protected. He is on antibiotics and will rest here in Missouri for a few days prior to returning to Europe,” stated Columbia-HTC team owner Bob Stapleton.
What’s next? Well it seems that once again, the Tour of Missouri will come down to the time trial. Going into Friday’s race of truth, 77 riders are separated by 26 seconds. Haedo leads, tied with Hushovd. Cataldo sits in third place at 18 seconds down, tied with KOM leader Moises Aldape (Team Type 1). Both Creed and Louder picked up a 5 second time bonus in today’s stage putting them at 21 seconds down.
Haedo knows that his time in the yellow jersey is limited. “It’s hard to defend being a sprinter but it’s my first yellow jersey ever so I’ll be proud tomorrow to be the last guy.”
On a new course this year, the 30.6 km (19 mi) time trial in Sedalia offers up a flat, fast, and wide open course. Men to watch include Mick Rodgers and Marco Pinotti of Columbia-HTC, Levi Leipheimer (Astana), 4-time and reigning US TT Champion David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) and Gustav Larsson (Saxo Bank). It will be interesting to see what Tom Zirbel (BISSELL) twice runner up at US Pro TT will do as this course is much better suited for him. On the domestic side, a few riders to watch include Brent Bookwalter (BMC) who finished ninth in today’s stage, Mike Creed (Team Type 1) if he can recover from the long break, Chris Baldwin (OUCH), and Scott Zwizanski (Kelly Benefit) who finished third at US Pro.
The first rider goes off at 2:00pm, and the last, Haedo at 4:03pm. (See start times)
Complete results here
Gallery (Click for larger images)
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