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April 18, 2007

Runaway choo-choo: Tour de Georgia turned upside-down

Gianni MeersmanThe youngest Discovery Channel rider, Belgium's Gianni Meersman, came out on top after a wild ride into Chattanooga.

Discovery Channel, Quick Step, Saunier Duval, and Health Net all put two riders in a 13-rider break that formed about 30 kilometers in. The Tinkoff Credit Systems team, behind race leader Daniele Contrini, was short-handed (because of injuries and the Euro schedule, they brought only 6 riders, and Tyler Hamilton is apparently focused on individual results), and none of the teams with riders in the break would cooperate to chase.

As a result, as the break worked through four categorized climbs, the gap went out and out, to 17 minutes, then 21 minutes, about 23 minutes as the break finished the course, and ultimately 29:07 when the peloton arrived.

In the break, Saunier Duval's Rubens Bertogliati and Quick Step's Kevin Seeldraeyers were the first to make a move, on the day's last climb. They were quickly reabsorbed, and Health Net's Jeff Louder, CSC's Christian Vandevelde, and Louder again went for victory as 8 survivors streaked through the streets of Chattanooga.

In the end, it was Meersman who carried the day, ahead of David Cañada and Janez Brajkovic. Cañada is the immediate beneficiary of the daylong break, taking the leader's jersey, 3 seconds up on 5 riders: teammate Bertogliati, Vandevelde, Brajkovic, Louder, and Seeldraeyers. BMC's Scott Nydam sits another 20 seconds back, with every other rider at least 2 minutes back, and ex-race leader Contrini sitting 14th, 27:47 back.

A lot of big names sit even farther back: Tom Danielson, Levi Leipheimer, Gilberto Simoni, David Millar, Dave Zabriskie, and Tyler Hamilton among them.

I'm following the race in more detail over at my Tour de Georgia weblog, and have posted a photoset from Tuesday's stage between Thomaston and Rome to Flickr. I'll probably do quick stage wrap-ups here through Sunday's finale in Atlanta.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 18, 2007 in Christian Vande Velde, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Tom Danielson, Tour de Georgia, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink

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