April 22, 2005
TdG Stage 4 in progress
Riders are contending not only with each other, but with thunderstorms and hail, as a cold front rolls through North Georgia, cooling the course, and possibly whipping up some wind. Dave at Operation Gadget has an enterprising on-scene weather roundup from Woody Gap.
Discovery put José-Luis Rubiera in an early break, and he's been pulling a group of initially 6, now down to 3, riders, at the head of the field. With the group's gap, Rubiera is the yellow jersey on the course -- he leads Floyd Landis on the road by more than Landis leads him in the overall classification. Of course, there's a lot of racing left today.
On Wolfpen Gap, Discovery's Jason McCartney broke from the pack, accompanied by Michael Blaudzin of CSC and Dalton's own Saul Raisin of Credit Agricole, and was joined by Jose
Azevedo (Discovery) and Christian Vande Velde (CSC). Up front, Rubiera managed to ride CSC's Andy Schleck and Gerolsteiner's Sven Krauss off his wheel, and is riding alone.
Rubiera and Krauss are just 50 seconds up on a very healthy chase group of 23, featuring Landis, Leipheimer, Julich, and Armstrong, among others. Landis is the only Phonak in the group, while Armstrong has Danielson, Azevedo, and Jason McCartney. Dave Zabriskie of CSC is alongside Julich, while Andy Schleck is in no man's land between the chasers and the leaders.
Rubiera, Krauss and Schleck are caught on the descent from Woody Gap, the last categorized climb of the day. Rubiera is likely to score the King of the Mountains jersey for his efforts today.
Overnight, Phonak's Jose Enrique Gutierrez abandoned the race with knee problems; today is not a day you would want to start with bad knees, with 19,000 vertical feet. The loss leaves Phonak with 6 riders in the race, defending Landis in the yellow jersey.
Mark Walters of Navigators crashed on the first descent of Woody Gap and left the course in an ambulance.
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I got hit by the rain, hail, and wind on top of the mountain wearing only cycling shorts and a short sleeve jersey. Since I cycle up their frequently, I must have been on drugs to ride up there without weather gear. Let me say, descending slowly I was shaking the bike all over the road with my shivering. It was scary. I cannot imagine what it must have been like racing in that. Needless to say, I left early.
Posted by: gttim at Apr 24, 2005 8:02:18 AM