April 23, 2005
Tour de Georgia Stage 5: Gainesville to Brasstown Bald
Today is the key stage of the 2005 Tour de Georgia. The GC leaders are all bunched within 2 minutes of Floyd Landis, and CSC has David Zabriskie and Bobby Julich looming within 30 seconds of the race lead.
Only 90 riders are left in the race, as 13 riders, including Jonathan Sundt and Ben Brooks, finished outside the time limit, and 14 others, including Discovery's Michael Barry, Ivan Dominguez, and Stage 1 flyer Dan Bowman, dropped out. Two Colavita riders, Mark McCormack and Juan José Haedo (who won a sprint on Friday's stage) were disqualified for unspecified reasons (anybody hear anything? Update: As you might guess, they were DQ'ed for drafting).
Weather is much cooler today than earlier this week, with temperatures this morning in the mid-50s and winds coming out of the west to northwest. The high is expected to be only about 60. Local weatherman says there's a wind advisory, with gusts of up to 25-30 mph expected.
The stage today just gets harder and harder, starting in poultry capital Gainesville, rolling through the only sprint line of the day, and then starting to climb. There are 4 categorized climbs on the day, spaced fairly evenly about 17 miles/28 kilometers apart.
The 3rd-Category climb to Dicks Creek Gap is a long, gradual climb, with some short descents worked in, and a feed zone just before the final climb of perhaps 800 vertical feet.
The 2nd-Category climb to Unicoi Gap is both taller and steeper, gaining almost 1000 vertical feet ahead of a long descent of almost 1500 vertical feet.
Next is 1st-Category Hogpen Gap, where riders will climb almost 2000 feet to 3518 feet above sea level. A very steep descent down the backside puts the riders at the base of the climb to Georgia's highest point, the Hors Categorie Brasstown Bald.
Brasstown Bald stands almost 4800 feet above sea level, and riders will suffer through about 2800 feet of that over just 7.5 miles.
Last year's winner, Cesar Grajales, now with Navigators, lives in Athens, about 75 miles away, and had a suspiciously low finish on yesterday's stage. He may have been resting up to try a big move today.
Jason McCartney and José Luis Rubiera showed yesterday, but Discovery Channel's other strong climbers, Tom Danielson and Jose Azevedo, stayed with Lance Armstrong in the chasing group all day. With Danielson, Ekimov, Armstrong, and Azevedo all within 2 minutes of Landis, who was isolated for the late stages of yesterday's stage, look for Discovery's strategy to be some tag-team breakaways.
CSC has three men in the top 10: Zabriskie just 19 seconds behind Landis, Julich at 28 seconds, and Stage 4 winner Brian Vandborg at 1:39.
Also highly placed is Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer, sitting 50 seconds back.
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» TDFblog Has a Good Summary of Stage 5 from Operation Gadget
Frank Steele has a good summary of Tour de Georgia Stage 5 up on TDFblog, including descriptions of the major climbs. I talked to him earlier and he was trying to see the riders on a couple of the mountains... [Read More]
Tracked on Apr 23, 2005 4:39:53 PM