September 04, 2007

Zabriskie repeats as US TT champ

Zabriskie hammersTeam CSC's David Zabriskie repeated as US champion in the individual time trial on Saturday.

Zabriskie was pushed hard by teammate-to-be Danny Pate of Team Slipstream-Chipotle, just one second slower over the 18.7 mile course. In fact, Team Slipstream '08 owned the podium, as Tim Duggan finished 8 seconds down.

Just as last year, Zabriskie raced without an earpiece, and the lack of intermediate splits meant he had to sprint flat-out on the finishing straight to pip Pate.

Jonathan Vaughters announced the '08 Team Slipstream squad in Greenville over the weekend, and they're going to have incredible results: Zabriskie, Pate, Duggan, Tom Danielson, Christian Vande Velde, David Millar, Julian Dean, Ryder Hesjedal, Pat McCarty, Will Frischkorn, Christophe Laurent, Jason Donald, Steven Cozza, Trent Lowe, Maartijn Maaskant, perennial TdFblog favorite Magnus Backstedt, Tyler Farrar, Dan Martin, Chris Sutton, Lucas Euser, Huub Duyn, Mike Friedman, and Kilian Patour.

In fact, the team is apparently too sexy for their shirts, so they're having a design contest for next year's team jersey through September 15. “The design must incorporate the Slipstream argyle pattern...”

Saul Raisin is backReturning to competition was Credit Agricole's Saul Raisin, who has battled back from a devastating head injury suffered in April 2006 at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Starting first, Raisin turned in a creditable 44:07. (Click through either picture to be taken to my Flickr pics of the event).

Also back in competition was Tyler Hamilton, wearing a neutral jersey because of an ongoing legal battle with his Tinkoff Credit Systems team, which he claims has tried to change the terms of his 2007 contract in early May, after the season started. Hamilton recorded a 40:23, just a fraction of a second behind Bobby Julich for 6th on the day.

Levi Leipheimer and George Hincapie again skipped the TT, prepping for Sunday's road race, which rips through downtown Greenville and makes 4 climbs of Paris Mountain.

Some logistical issues meant I didn't make it up to the finish line, and only got pictures from the riders coming down the opening chute. VeloNews, CyclingNews and Daily Peloton all had photographers at the awards ceremony -- links below.


2007 USA Cycling Pro TT championships - My Flickr set - I got pictures of almost all the 33 starters | Zabriskie defends pro ITT title | Casey Gibson photo gallery

Daily Peloton | 2007 USA Cycling Professional Time Trial Championship | Ben Ross photo gallery | Zabriskie barely holds off challengers to defend TT title | Time Trial photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on September 4, 2007 in Bobby Julich, Danny Pate, Dave Zabriskie, Magnus Backstedt, Saul Raisin, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 31, 2007

US Pro Championships preview

The US Pro Championships return to Greenville, South Carolina this weekend. It's a fantastic course in a lovely small-town setting, with a terrific river park less than 300 yards from the finish, sidewalk cafés, barbecue, and top-notch bike racing.

Levi LeipheimerRace organizers took half my advice, shifting the little-attended time trial from Friday to Saturday, but left the road race on Sunday, so the likelihood of an already-difficult double national champion seems even a little more remote. For Southeastern fans, though, it means you can see both races for the cost of a single night's hotel room, and still get home for Labor Day.

I've always pulled for Levi Leipheimer, but I've never really believed in him. After this year's Tour, I believe. He was the strongest rider in last year's USPro road race, this year's Tour de Georgia, and the strongest American at the Tour de France. He's my favorite to take the Stars and Stripes to his new team, whatever it may be.

Last year, I felt Leipheimer's support was critical for George Hincapie, who will look to repeat as US champion and carry the Stars and Stripes to the T-Mobile team as Team Discovery Channel ends its successful run.

On the other hand, you can bet Team Slipstream would love to kick off its reign as the top US team with the US title onboard. Danny Pate was 3rd last year, while his teammates packed the top 15. A win for Dave Zabriskie is a win for Slipstream, as he transfers to the Argyles after this season.

And Bobby Julich has suggested wearing the Stars and Stripes at 35 would be a great career capper, and one thing he's yet to achieve in a very successful career:

“I'd like to try to win a national jersey finally. Either the time trial or the road race, I don't care. I'd take anything,” Julich said. “It would be fun to have the jersey in the last year of my career. I've never had it.”

Zabriskie at 3k to rideIn the time trial, the course has been slightly altered from last year, getting cut off before the hard right-hander in this photo. Last year, that led up to a twisty last 3 kilometers, where 2005 TT champion Chris Baldwin, neck and neck with Zabriskie, went into a ditch, and lost at least 30 seconds getting back up to steam. If Zabriskie's knee is back in racing shape after his forced withdrawal from this year's Tour, this is his race to lose: Nobody without a funny accent TTs faster than Z.

Dalton, Georgia's Saul Raisin returns to competition, just like he said he would, with a ride in the ITT Saturday. Also expected to return to competition (in both events) is Tyler Hamilton, whose team has kept him from racing since the Tour de Georgia in April.

There are 99 riders scheduled to start Sunday's road race. Missing this year? Christian Vande Velde, Freddie Rodriguez, Tom Danielson, Jason McCartney, and Aaron Olson.

I'll be there, so look for race updates and photos as soon as I can post them.


2007 USPro Championship Time Trial riders (34) | Road Race riders (99)

Course Maps and Profiles | Battle for the stars and stripes, or just admire (free reg. req.) | The Mehlting Pot: The Last Dance

From last year's race: | US Pro Championships pool | My road race set | My TT set

Posted by Frank Steele on August 31, 2007 in Bobby Julich, Dave Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Saul Raisin, Top Stories, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 09, 2007

Saul Raisin returns to competition in Utah

Salt Lake Tribune | CYCLING: Utahn beats odds after brain injury

While his Credit Agricole teammates soloed in front of a million people in London Saturday, Saul Raisin was getting beaten by US amateurs -- and loving it. Raisin returned to competition at Utah's Porcupine Hill Climb, a 14.7-mile race with 3800 feet of climbing.

He finished 7:20 behind HealthNet's Jeff Louder, but completed another step on the ladder he hopes will see him race at the US Pro National TT Championships in Greenville, SC, in September, and return to the European peloton next season.

Raisin is recovering from brain injuries suffered in April 2006 at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Recently engaged to David Zabriskie's sister Aleeza, Raisin has moved to Utah, and is documenting his training rides on his website using Motion Based. He's coauthored a book, Tour de Life: From Coma to Competition, with Dave Shields, about the accident and his recovery. He's on his way to France this week for more tests to determine his fitness to race, and hopes to visit the Tour while he's there.


Porcupine Cycling site | Porcupine Hill Climb licensed rider results (PDF)

Tour de Life site | Tour de Life excerpt

Posted by Frank Steele on July 9, 2007 in Dave Zabriskie, Saul Raisin | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 14, 2007

Saul Raisin aiming for US Pro return

VeloNews | Raisin Hope: Counting my blessings

Saul Raisin, the Credit Agricole rider who suffered brain injuries last year at the Circuit de la Sarthe, is training competitively again.

Raisin did a baseline time trial up Fort Mountain, near Dalton, Georgia, last Wednesday, and averaged about 400 watts for 30 minutes. He followed that up with 6 15-minute hill repeats on Friday.

Raisin told his coach he hopes to return in September:

"I want to come back for the U.S. professional championships," I told Jim. "And I want to come back in a big way. I want to win."

Raisin's “Raisin Hope” ride is scheduled for March 31 in Dalton, and there's also a silent auction of items through eBay including a number of signed team jerseys (from Discovery, Team CSC, Cofidis, and Credit Agricole) and a Look 585 team bike.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 14, 2007 in Saul Raisin | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 14, 2007

Tour of California rosters released

Amgen Tour of California | 2007 Rider Roster Announced

I am going to hate missing the Tour of California. With the obvious exception of Floyd Landis, fans will get to see pretty much every American racing in the ProTour, and many of the world's best riders will be racing in the US for the first time.

The race, kicking off Sunday, will feature the winners of 4 stages and the prologue of the 2006 Tour de France: Thor Hushovd, who took the prologue and Stage 21, CSC's Jens Voigt, Stage 13, Michael (Spider) Rasmussen, who dominated the Alpine climbs and won Stage 16 and the king of the mountains, and Matteo Tosatto, who won Stage 18.

You want Americans? They got 'em: George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Tom Danielson, and Jason McCartney from Discovery Channel; Dave Zabriskie, Bobby Julich, and Christian Vandevelde from Team CSC; Freddie Rodriguez and Chris Horner from Predictor-Lotto; Aaron Olson, now with T-Mobile; and of course the US-based Pro Continental and Continental teams, mostly populated by US riders.

You want ProTour royalty? They got 'em: World champion Paolo Bettini, world time-trial champion Fabian Cancellara, reigning Giro champion Ivan Basso, and former world TT champion Michael Rogers.

There are also lots of old faces on new teams, as with Michael Barry, Greg Henderson and Jakob Piil, all now with T-Mobile, Juan-José Haedo, dominant in US sprints last year, and now racing for CSC, and Henk Vogels, now racing for the Continental Toyota-United squad.

Also, injured Credit Agricole rider Saul Raisin, whose recovery continues, plans to ride each stage noncompetitively and visit with fans at the start and finish. He's also promoting a ride March 31st in Dalton, Ga. called Raisin Hope.

Should be a heck of a race.

Posted by Frank Steele on February 14, 2007 in Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Fabian Cancellara, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Igor Astarloa, Jean-Patrick Nazon, Levi Leipheimer, Michael Rasmussen, Michael Rogers, Paolo Bettini, Saul Raisin, Stuart O'Grady, Thor Hushovd, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Tour of California, Tour of California 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

August 10, 2006

Raisin returns to roads | Raisin racing to recover

Raisin ridesHow 'bout some good news, for a change?

Credit Agricole's Saul Raisin, badly injured in an April crash at the Circuit de la Sarthe, did a 90-minute ride with his father in his hometown of Dalton, GA on Tuesday.

Raisin fell into a coma for six days after the accident, and doctors thought that brain damage might end his career. Instead, Raisin has hammered through his rehabilitation, improving his balance to the point that it's about average for an uninjured person, and continuing to work on the left-side weakness that results from his injuries. He told CyclingNews he thinks he's got a year or more of recovery ahead, but that he'll be back with Credit Agricole.

He's also promoting a wristband whose proceeds benefit the Shepherd Center in Atlanta, the rehabilitation center that has guided his recovery. Teammate Thor Hushovd wore the band as he won the prologue and final stage, and wore the yellow jersey, at this year's Tour.

Raisin will attend Sunday's Sandy Springs Classic, a criterium just north of Atlanta, and sign autographs.

Also: | Part 2: The legacy of the crash

Posted by Frank Steele on August 10, 2006 in Saul Raisin | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 08, 2006

Raisin Hell for a good cause

Carmichael Training Systems | Raisin Hell wristbands

Saul Raisin's family has started selling green-and-white wristbands, embossed with “Raisin Hell”, to help raise money for the Shepherd Center in Atlanta.

In other Saul Raisin news, he's posted a link to a local news story on his condition, and says he's riding the trainer 30-40 minutes a day.

The Shepherd Center focuses on rehabilitation for those with spinal injuries and other neuromuscular conditions. They're just up the road from my office, and they do fantastic work. This is a very worthy cause.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 8, 2006 in Saul Raisin | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 24, 2006

Saul Raisin transferred to outpatient facility

Saul Raisin Racing - Home

Credit Agricole's Saul Raisin expected to be transferred to an outpatient facility in Atlanta yesterday for 3-4 weeks of rehabilitation. Raisin wrote on his website:

I am getting stronger and getting better every day...I hope after the new rehab center I will be getting back to my self soon.

Raisin has also posted a recovery photo gallery showing how he's progressing.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 24, 2006 in Saul Raisin | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 03, 2006

Saul Raisin update: back in US, recuperating

Saul Raisin Racing | Believe it or not it is me Saul

Credit Agricole's Saul Raisin, injured at the Circuit de la Sarthe last month, dictated an entry to his weblog yesterday:

Dictated by Saul typed by Mom: Well here I am no racing for me...Only racing to get well...Got the new Pro Cycling Giro Edition Mag...To bad I am not doing the Giro... I want to thank everyone for their support and get well thoughts... I hope to be leaving the hospital in a couple of weeks...I am in a super nice Hospital and the staff here is TRES BON...Check my web site for more updates and pictures... I love you all...Saul

Another entry, from his parents on Monday, notes that Raisin is still in the ICU, but is reading and “using his cell phone to call Daniela.”

Posted by Frank Steele on May 3, 2006 in Saul Raisin, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 17, 2006

VeloNews offers TdG preview | Tour de Georgia: Top Americans looking for victory on home soil

Neal Rogers offers a preview of this week's race, but predicting (hoping for?) the possibility of an all-US podium featuring defending champion Tom Danielson of Discovery Channel, Phonak's Landis, and CSC's David Zabriskie.

Danielson is coming off a new record time in the climb of (the other) Lookout Mountain in Colorado, while Landis has already won the inaugural Tour of California and Paris-Nice this season. Danielson has an eye on next month's Giro d'Italia, while Landis has scrapped the Giro in favor of Tour de France preparation.

Rogers also mentions that organizers are planning to recognize Dalton native Saul Raisin during the ride; Stage 4 starts in his hometown on Friday.

Other TdG previews: | 2006 Tour de Georgia -- Allez Ya'll | Michael Barry Journal: Tour de Georgia (free reg. req.) | Tour de Georgia preview

Crossposted to TdGblog, your source for Tour de Georgia news.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 17, 2006 in Dave Zabriskie, Floyd Landis, Saul Raisin, Tom Danielson, Tour de Georgia | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

April 14, 2006

Raisin out of coma, off ventilator

BBC SPORT | Raisin out of crash-induced coma

Saul Raisin is out of his coma. He's able to move his head, arms, and legs, but remains in intensive care.

He'll probably be released from the ICU next week.

His team doctor had previously said he expects some brain damage from the fall and the resulting brain swelling.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 14, 2006 in Saul Raisin, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 12, 2006

Saul Raisin improving, responds to parents | A loving squeeze from comatose Dalton cyclist

US pro cyclist Saul Raisin of Credit Agricole responded to questions from his parents in his hospital room Tuesday, squeezing their hands with his.

Raisin, a 23-year-old from Dalton, Ga., crashed at the Circuit de la Sarthe April 4th, falling hard on his forehead and breaking a rib and collarbone. He was conscious when he arrived at the hospital, but suffered a life-threatening hemorrhage April 6th, and has been in a coma since.

Apparently, no one saw a cause for his accident, and one of CA's directors initially told it was an epileptic seizure, but Raisin's team and family both deny that. quotes unnamed riders “who were close to the American at the time” who say Raisin “appeared to be in a trance-like state before he crashed.” Apparently, Raisin fell in an amateur race in 2003 and nearly choked on his tongue, but Credit Agricole team doctor Joel Menard says the tongue was swollen from the trauma, not from epilepsy.

There is a possibility of paralysis from the injuries, but a family friend told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution Raisin is moving all his fingers and toes. Menard told VeloNews that doctors are “expecting some brain damage,” and compared the fall to Fabio Casartelli's horrific and fatal crash in the 1995 Tour de France, crediting Raisin's hardshell with saving his life.


VeloNews (April 9) | Wait continues for Raisin
VeloNews (April 7) | Raisin remains in coma, team doctor says
VeloNews (April 6) | Surgery eases pressure on Raisin's brain
VeloNews (April 5) | Farrar, Raisin injured in costly crashes

Posted by Frank Steele on April 12, 2006 in Saul Raisin, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 18, 2005

Leipheimer takes Tour of Germany lead | Leipheimer wins stage, leads Tour of Germany

Gerolsteiner's Levi Leipheimer took Stage 4 at the Tour of Germany Thursday, jumping into the overall race lead.

Leipheimer's teammate Georg Totschnig was 15 seconds back for 2nd on the day, a 171.6-km stage finishing atop Austria's Rettenbachferner. T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich was 3rd, losing only 55 seconds to Leipheimer.

It was the highest mountaintop finish of the Euro season, at 2670 meters (8,760 feet) above sea level. Leipheimer called it “the most difficult climb of all the races we've done, including the Tour de France.”

Leipheimer and Totschnig's group shed Tadej Valjavec, Marco Fertonani (survivor of an earlier break), and Jorg Jaksche, leaving the two Gerolsteiners riding with one and a half T-Mobiles (Ullrich and Evans, who joins the team for 2006). Two kilometers from the top, the wasser boys began to gap Evans, and pushed the pace. When Totschnig couldn't hold on, Leipheimer rode away from his teammate late on the climb to try to gain maximum advantage on Ullrich ahead of Monday's time trial.

"I feel a little bit guilty because I know Georg wanted to win, but I felt so strong and I know he won a stage in the Tour," Leipheimer explained in the finish. "I hope he will forgive me. I hope to repay him in the next few days.

Top 10 overall after Stage 4:
1) Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, in 19:17:02
2) Georg Totschnig, Gerolsteiner, at :18
3) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, at :56
4) Cadel Evans, Davitamon-Lotto, at 1:22
5) Jorg Jaksche, Liberty Seguros, at 1:28
6) Tadej Valjavec, Phonak Hearing Systems, at 1:51
7) Saul Raisin, Credit Agricole, at 2:56
8) Fabian Jeker, Saunier Duval-Prodir, at 3:16
9) Patrik Sinkewitz, Quickstep, same time
10) Wim Van Huffel, Davitamon-Lotto, at 3:58

Also: | Deutschland Tour Stage 4 | Photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on August 18, 2005 in Cadel Evans, Georg Totschnig, Jan Ullrich, Jorg Jaksche, Levi Leipheimer, Patrik Sinkewitz, Saul Raisin | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 17, 2005

Stage 15 wrapup

I haven't been willing to say this Tour's race for yellow is over, but I get that feeling tonight. There aren't a lot of opportunities left to put time into Lance Armstrong, and he's got quite a bit in hand.

Jan Ullrich and T-Mobile apparently agree: over at the T-Mobile team website, Andreas Klöden suggests T-Mobile isn't aiming for the win anymore, when he says “My position on the GC doesn’t matter to me. We want to get Jan on the podium, and we can achieve that.”

Papers, please
Your papers, please
VeloNews/Casey B. Gibson translates and quotes from, Ullrich's website:
Thinking back on the final ascent to Ax-3-Domaines yesterday, when T-Mobile had isolated Armstrong in the Pailhères climb and the ever more courageous Vinokourov attacked again, Ullrich admitted his defeat in his personal website: "That was the moment where I should have gotten Armstrong," he wrote. "But in the end, on the last kilometre, he was stronger than me again. But it was a great fight on a sporting level and that's why I'm satisfied with my performance."

Ullrich also got stopped by French police as he rode down the mountain after the stage (photo at right). Once they realized who he was, he was allowed to continue, but it's a sign of how things are going for the 1997 Tour champ.

Phonak's Oscar Pereiro, 2nd on the day, wasn't happy about Hincapie's wheelsucking ways.

"This is a sporting competition and sometimes the strongest man doesn't win," said Pereiro, who couldn't respond when Hincapie punched the accelerator in the final kilometers.

"It was all day on the wheel, this is something you have to take notice of. I had hoped to drop him because I knew he would be strong in the sprint," he said. "He said, ‘Let's work together and try to get to the finish line,' then it seemed like I was doing all the work. It just didn't work out for me."

You could compare it to Chris Horner's anger at Carlos da Cruz during Stage 13, except that drafting plays a smaller role on climbing stages. Given their styles, Pereiro was doomed when his testing accelerations, and the attack by Pietro Caucchioli, failed to dislodge Hincapie, presumably a weaker climber. After that, of course Hincapie was content to sit in for the two-up sprint.

GC Update:
1) Lance Armstrong, Discovery Channel, 62:09:59
2) Ivan Basso, CSC, at 2:46
3) Michael Rasmussen, Rabobank, at 3:09
4) Jan Ullrich, T-Mobile, at 5:58
5) Francisco Mancebo, Illes Balears, at 6:31
6) Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, at 7:35
7) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at 9:33
8) Alexandre Vinokourov, T-Mobile, at 9:38
9) Christophe Moreau, Credit Agricole, at 11:47
10) Andreas Kloden, T-Mobile, at 12:01

Note to cycling press: Hincapie was born in New York, but now lives in Greenville, S.C. Other fairly high-level riders with homes in the Southeast include Credit Agricole's Saul Raisin of Dalton, Georgia, and Australia's Nathan O'Neill of Navigators, who lives in Braselton, Georgia.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 17, 2005 in Andreas Klöden, Francisco Mancebo, George Hincapie, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Magnus Backstedt, Saul Raisin | Permalink | Comments (8) | TrackBack

June 11, 2005

Tour de Suisse kicks off Saturday

Eurosport | Tour Of Switzerland

Saturday's a big day, as the king stage of the Dauphiné covers 4 major climbs, and the Tour of Switzerland kicks off.

T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich is the defending Tour de Suisse champion, but Ullrich told it's a training ride this year for him.

"Repeating last year's victory is not on my mind, it's all about a measured build-up to the Tour de France," Ullrich said. "I'm convinced that I am a bit further ahead compared to the same time in previous years. I still have about three pounds to lose but that's intended. Now I must race again in order to achieve a fine cross section of fitness. That means I must convert the strength I have into speed."

There may be a stronger field taking the start of the Tour de Suisse than is contesting the Dauphiné, despite the presence of the top American GC threats at the Dauphiné; the Swiss tour includes Ullrich, Robbie McEwen, Oscar Freire, last year's Dauphiné champion Iban Mayo, Tom Boonen, and Americans Bobby Julich, Freddie Rodriguez, Saul Raisin, Jason McCartney, Guido Trenti, and Chris Horner.

Also: Tour de Suisse preview - map - stage list

The Tour de Suisse official page is available in French or in German.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 11, 2005 in Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Fred Rodriguez, Iban Mayo, Jan Ullrich, Oscar Freire, Robbie McEwen, Saul Raisin, Tom Boonen, Tour de Suisse | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 23, 2005

Danielson takes Brasstown Bald, overall lead at Tour de Georgia

Sorry for no "as it happens" updates: I've been out on the course, suffering from an unbelievably cold day for a Georgia April.

My vantage point: Hog Pen Gap, 17 miles from the finish, at the day's 3rd King of the Mountains line. We saw the very scattered snow flurry, and had a brief bout of sleet, just as the lead group arrived.

The crowds were incredible through the mountains; Dave from Operation Gadget said parking was gone for 5 miles approaching the spur road to Brasstown Bald. Where I was, at Hog Pen Gap, roadside spaces were gone by around 2, with the riders eventually coming through around 4:30.

In Gainesville this morning, Viatcheslav Ekimov predicted that Discovery Channel would take the stage and the overall lead today, but didn't name any names.

As the peloton rolled into the mountains, Jittery Joe's rider Tim Johnson took a flyer, and Discovery's Jason McCartney covered the break. The two would ride together over the day's first two climbs, building a lead of almost 2:30 at times. Discovery's José-Luis Rubiera took 3rd over each climb to defend his King of the Mountains jersey.

Shortly before reaching Hog Pen, Lance Armstrong launched an attack, and was covered by almost all of the stage and GC hopefuls, including yellow jersey Floyd Landis, Levi Leipheimer, Tom Danielson, Saul Raisin and Trent Lowe (fighting it out for the young rider's jersey), Saunier Duval-Prodir's Nicolas Fritsch and Marco Pinotti, and, by the Hog Pen summit, Bobby Julich and a teammate (picture at right - click for larger).

I say "and a teammate," because some sources say it was Andy Schleck, but just after the group passed Hog Pen Gap, Christian Vande Velde launched an attack that he sustained all the way onto Brasstown Bald. Reviewing the tape (wow, TdFblog video), I think it's Vande Velde riding with Julich. On the other hand, a couple of other CSC riders passed by maybe 30 seconds behind Armstrong's group, and could have caught up on the descent. At some point, this became a group of 15, adding Azevedo, Blaudzun, Schleck, Vandborg, Nathan O'Neill, and Justin England (with Vande Velde off the front).

Armstrong rode out in pursuit of Vande Velde, with Azevedo, then Danielson and Leipheimer attacked. This put pressure on Floyd Landis, and allowed Armstrong to ride in his slipstream with a teammate up the road. Danielson and Leipheimer rode much of the last 5 kilometers together, slowly gapping Armstrong and Landis. With Leipheimer placed 10 seconds ahead of Danielson on GC, Discovery's Danielson opened up a gap on Leipheimer in the last kilometer. At the finish, Danielson took the lead, with 5 seconds to spare.

Back with Landis, Armstrong was finally able to get a split at the summit, and finished 10 seconds clear of Landis, and (Dave Aiello notes) pointing defiantly back down the mountain.

At left, the once and future yellow jersey (click through for larger picture).

Stage Top 10:
1) Tom Danielson, Discovery
2) Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, at :15
3) Lance Armstrong, Discovery, at :59
4) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at 1:09
5) Bobby Julich, Team CSC, at 1:44
6) Marco Pinotti, Prodir-Saunier Duval, at 1:55
7) Trent Lowe, Jittery Joe's-Kalahari, at 2:10
8) Saul Raisin, Credit Agricole, at 2:10
9) Michael Blaudzun, CSC, at 2:33
10) Andy Schleck, CSC, at 2:33

Preliminary Overall Results:
1) Tom Danielson, Discovery
2) Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner, at :05
3) Floyd Landis, Phonak, at :09
4) Bobby Julich, CSC, at 1:10
5) Lance Armstrong, Discovery, at 1:41

Lowe holds on to the white (under-23) jersey, while Rubiera will win the King of the Mountains, since there are no KoM points available tomorrow.

And, of course, barring a comet crashing into his helmet, it looks like Discovery Channel has a stage on which to introduce Tom Danielson, who is going to win the 2005 Tour de Georgia. Looks like I have to create a "Tom Danielson" category.

With all the tough stages out of the way, what have we learned about Lance Armstrong's fitness? Bobby Julich, who clearly targeted his fitness to the early season, lost 43 seconds to the six-timer, which must be encouraging for Armstrong. Was Armstrong going all out on the last climb, or biding his time, helping Danielson gap Landis while Landis marked the wrong Disco? I guess we'll know in July.

Also, Levi Leipheimer, ladies and gentlemen; what a gutty ride -- he was also isolated from any teammates for the entire last climb, and put 45 seconds into Armstrong, and almost a minute into Landis.

On the other hand, I wouldn't want to spend the night with the CSC's. Christian Vande Velde takes the "consolation prize:" most aggressive rider. They had the numbers in the break, but couldn't get up Brasstown Bald with the Discos, Landis, and Leipheimer. As a result, they'll miss out on the team prize, which they took last year, and Julich will finish in the bitterest position -- one step off the podium.


VeloNews | Danielson wins stage, seizes lead at Georgia

VeloNews wrap-up, with some good Casy Gibson photos. | Armstrong: "Danielson's something special" (free reg. req.) | Stage 5 Race Report

Posted by Frank Steele on April 23, 2005 in Bobby Julich, Christian Vande Velde, Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Saul Raisin, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Viatcheslav Ekimov | Permalink | Comments (1)

April 22, 2005

TdG Stage 4 in progress

3 p.m.:

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.

3:22 p.m.:

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.

3:25 p.m.:
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.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 22, 2005 in Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Saul Raisin, Tour de Georgia | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 29, 2005

Brochard takes Paris-Camembert

Eurosport | Brochard wins, Armstrong on form

Laurent Brochard took his third career victory at Paris-Camembert today, breaking away 15 km out in a misting rain.

Eurosport is kind enough to call Brochard "pony-tailed," but we all know he's the outstanding example of the Euro-mullet. He's now 37, and had previously won here in 2001 and 2003.

Outkicking the select group of 30 still in the hunt at the line was Australia's Brett Lancaster of Panaria and Sandy Casar of Francaise des Jeux. Thomas Voeckler, Lance Armstrong, and Patrice Halgand were also in the first group.

Discovery Channel's six-time Tour winner Armstrong was active in the race, and finished 24th overall. He's tuning up for Sunday's Tour of Flanders, where George Hincapie and Stijn Devolder are Discovery's best bets.

"I needed to test my legs after ten days of training around Tenerife where I had put in sessions of over six hours over quite difficult terrain."

"I feel better than ever this year," he added.

Armstrong will return to the US on Monday to prepare for the Tour de Georgia, starting April 19th, where he won last year.

Also: | Paris-Camembert photo gallery | Paris-Camembert photo gallery

Armstrong, Vandevelde, Brochard. Also a shot of Credit Agricole's new American Saul Raisin, who Watson misidentifies as "Paul". | Lance Armstrong Training 2005

Chris Carmichael provides his take on Armstrong's early-season conditioning.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 29, 2005 in Lance Armstrong, Laurent Brochard, Saul Raisin, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

February 24, 2005

Field guide to Yanks in the peloton | Hopping the Pond: A look at Americans in the European pro peloton

Legendary Usenet rec.bikes poster Bruce Hildenbrand offers an overview of the American presence on 2005 Euro-pro squads.

It's cool that we're getting to a point where there are Americans in important roles on so many ProTour squads: Hildenbrand's article lists riders waving the Stars and Stripes at Discovery (Discovery has gotten amazingly international, but still has 7 Americans and 2 Canadians on the 28-man roster), Landis at Phonak and Leipheimer at Gerolsteiner, Davitamon-Lotto with Fast Freddie Rodriguez, CSC (where David Zabriskie and Christian Vandevelde join Bobby Julich), Saul Raisin at Credit Agricole, and Chris Horner, now with Saunier Duval.

Hildenbrand mentions that (shades of Vandevelde) Chris Horner is having trouble getting a work visa.

Posted by Frank Steele on February 24, 2005 in Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Floyd Landis, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Rider profiles, Saul Raisin | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 22, 2005

Four ProTour teams sign for Tour de Georgia

AP Wire | Julich will challenge Armstrong at Tour de Georgia

AP reports that Credit Agricole, CSC, Phonak, and Saunier Duval-Prodir all are confirmed for the Tour de Georgia, where they'll face Lance Armstrong and the Discovery Channel squad starting April 19th.

Press reports have Bobby Julich leading the CSC squad, and mention that Chris Horner, who won the race in 2003, rides for Saunier Duval-Prodir, but are mum on other team selections. Julich's teammate Jens Voigt was 2nd in last year's race. If Phonak brings Floyd Landis, the Tour would be one Levi Leipheimer short of featuring the best all-around US riders who are active in 2005. Update: The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports Landis will ride the race, as well as Georgia native Saul Raisin of Credit Agricole.

AP also says there may be one more team yet to be announced.

For now, at least, the race's official website is mum on the teams competing this year.

Posted by Frank Steele on February 22, 2005 in Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong, Saul Raisin, Tour de Georgia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack