July 10, 2011

Stage 9: Luis Leon Sanchez wins ‘Tour de Fracture’

Stage 9 looked like one for the break, but no one could predict just how many breaks we would see.

Juan Mañuel Garate of Rabobank didn't make the start, leaving 188 riders active. Early in the stage, there were three more abandons: Pavel Brutt of Katusha, Wouter Poels of Vacansoleil, and Amets Txurruka of Euskaltel-Euskadi.

Veteran escape artists Thomas Voeckler of Europcar, Luis Leon Sanchez of Rabobank, Juan Antonio Flecha of Sky and Sandy Casar of FDJ broke away with Vacansoleil's Johnny Hoogerland. All but Hoogerland are past stage winners, while Hoogerland, in his first Tour, was apparently in search of the King of the Mountains jersey, where he started the stage a point behind Tejay Van Garderen. They were initially joined by Quick Step's Nicki Terpstra, who faded back to the field when the group found the mountains. Hoogerland would take maximum points over most of the day's climbs, with Voeckler, best placed of the breakaway, looking to finally take the yellow jersey from Garmin-Cervelo's Thor Hushovd, who had held it since the team time trial last Sunday.

There were a few minor falls early in the stage, including one by defending champ Alberto Contador that looked like he had had been body-checked off the course Katusha's Vladimir Karpets. After the stage, Contador and Karpets agreed that Contador had caught his brake hood on Karpets' seat.

On the descent from the Puy Mary, the field carried too much speed into too little corner, and a number of riders went down. Astana's leader Alexandre Vinokourov tumbled down an embankement into some trees, and was helped back to the roadside by his teammates. Omega Pharma's GC hopeful, Jurgen van den Broeck, his teammate Frederik Willems, and Garmin-Cervelo's Dave Zabriskie were alll down in the same crash, and all would have to abandon the race. Zabriskie apparently fractured his hand, van den Broeck his shoulder blade, and initial reports were that Vinokourov had fractured his pelvis and femur, ending the Tour he had said would be his last.

Caught in the crash but continuing were Christian Vande Velde and David Millar of Garmin-Cervelo and RadioShack GC hopeful Andreas Klöden, who went to the hospital for X-rays after the stage. Klöden was heavily bruised on his back, but X-rays showed no breaks.

At the front of the pack, Cancellara and Gilbert neutralized the chase, allowing many of the downed riders to rejoin but also giving new life to the breakaway, which saw its lead balloon from around 4:00 to nearly 8:00 before the field could reorganize.

With around 43k to race, a television car tried to pass the lead group, cut back to avoid a tree, and took out Flecha and Hoogerland. Hoogerland was propelled off the road, into the air, and onto a barbed wire fence. After medical attention, and needing only to reach the finish line to take the King of the Mountains jersey, Hoogerland mounted up and rode, bleeding heavily from his left leg. Voeckler, Casar, and Sanchez considered waiting for Flecha, but finally had to continue as a trio, with Hoogerland, then Flecha being reabsorbed by the peloton and finishing with the laughing group, which was undoubtedly dire today.

The day's intermediate sprint came with only about 30 kilometers to ride, and Philippe Gilbert led the field in to hold the green jersey and widen his lead on Cavendish, Rojas and Hushovd. Garmin-Cervelo rode to limit Voeckler's gains until about 12k to the line, then handed the job over to BMC, then LeopardTrek.

Voeckler, who spent 10 days in yellow back in 2004, was clearly burying himself for a chance to repeat the experience. In the last kilometer, Voeckler tried to lose his passengers, but Luis Leon Sanchez was waiting for the move and easily distanced Voeckler, with Casar unable to even respond, to take the third Tour stage victory of his career. Voeckler would take yellow with a 1:49 advantage on Sanchez and 2:26 on Cadel Evans.

Philippe Gilbert would again lead in the field sprint, in a group with Evans, both Schlecks, Martin and Velits of HTC, Cunego, Contador, Danielson and Sanchez (among others) at 3:59 and Leipheimer, Gesink, Thomas, Basso, and Klöden (among others) at 4:07 down on Voeckler.

Stage 9:
1) Luis-Leon Sanchez, Rabobank, 5:27:09
2) Thomas Voeckler, Europcar, at :05
3) Sandy Casar, FDJ, at :13
4) Philippe Gilbert, Omega Pharma-Lotto, at 3:59
5) Peter Velits, HTC-Highroad, same time
6) Cadel Evans, BMC, s.t.
7) Andy Schleck, Leopard Trek, s.t.
8) Tony Martin, HTC-Highroad, s.t.
9) Frank Schleck, Leopard Trek, s.t.
10) Damiano Cunego, Lampre, s.t.

GC, after Stage 9:
1) Thomas Voeckler, Europcar, in 38:35:11
2) Luis Leon Sanchez, Rabobank, at 1:49
3) Cadel Evans, BMC, at 2:26
4) Frank Schleck, Leopard Trek, at 2:29
5) Andy Schleck, Leopard Trek, at 2:37
6) Tony Martin, HTC-Highroad, at 2:38
7) Peter Velits, HTC-Highroad, at 2:38
8) Andréas Klöden, RadioShack, at 2:43
9) Philippe Gilbert, Omega Pharma-Lotto, at 2:55
10) Jakob Fuglsang, Leopard Trek at 3:08


VeloNews | Thomas Voeckler takes lead in 2011 Tour de France as Luis-Leon Sanchez wins stage 9
cyclingnews.com | Luis León Sánchez wins crash-hit stage
GrahamWatson.com | Tour de France: Stage 9

Posted by Frank Steele on July 10, 2011 in 2011 Stage 9, Alberto Contador, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andreas Klöden, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Fabian Cancellara, Jurgen van den Broeck, Levi Leipheimer, Luis Sanchez, Mark Cavendish, Philippe Gilbert, Thomas Voeckler, Thor Hushovd, Tom Danielson, Tony Martin, Top Stories, Vuelta a España | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 02, 2011

Stage 1: Gilbert win brings early Tour chaos

For a long time, Saturday's Stage 1 looked like a parade, with three drum majors leading the team floats on a quiet (if speedy) processional. Sure, there might have been a Shriner or two who tore their fez, but everyone would stay in line, there would be a quick performance for the stage win, and we would move on to the Stage 2 Team Time Trial for the first blows in the overall competition.

Late in the stage, though, we discovered it was really the parade from Animal House, with Alberto Contador and Sammy Sanchez among the hapless ROTC cadets mowed down by 10,000 marbles, the early unveiling of Leopard-Trek's Fabian “Spartacus Deathmobile” Cancellara, and a swashbuckling appearance from Philippe “Sen. John Blutarsky” Gilbert.

It was Jérémy Roy of FDJ, Perrig Quemeneur of Europcar, and Lieuwe Westra of Vacansoleil who built a gap that, at times, stretched out to more than 6:00, but were pulled back by long leading pulls by riders from Garmin-Cervelo, Omega Pharma-Lotto, and finally Quemeneur's own Europcar team.

The first appearance of the mid-race intermediate sprint meant that American Tyler Farrar was the first true sprinter to score green jersey points ahead of Andre Greipel, with green jersey favorite Mark Cavendish putting his team on the front but not effectively competing in the sprint.

After the leading trio were absorbed with about 19k in the stage, the pace remained high to the finish. With less than 9 kilometers to ride, an Astana rider trying to widen the narrow French road met up with a spectator trying to widen the quaint French roadside, and the resulting pileup left most of the GC contenders riding in a group of around 40. Caught behind were Alberto Contador, Sammy Sanchez, and Garmin-Cervelo all-rounders Ryder Hesjedal, Christian Vande Velde, and Tom Danielson.

Radio Shack and BMC immediately moved to the front and lit the afterburners, but Contador's former DS, Radio Shack's Johan Bruyneel told reporters after the stage he didn't know Contador was gapped. A further crash inside of 3 kms to the line made a gumbo of the stage standings, with riders caught in the later crash given the time of the group they were with at the time, and riders caught in the earlier crash losing time picking through the later crash.

Cancellara launched a fierce attack with about a kilometer to ride, but the favorite for the day, Omega Pharma's Philippe Gilbert followed the move he later said he had expected, and pulled away from Cancellara over the last 500 meters, with BMC's GC hope Cadel Evans closing the gap off the front of the field. At the line, Gilbert finally took his first Tour stage, Evans was second, showing he's brought great form to the race, and world champion Thor Hushovd of Garmin-Cervelo took third.

In the end, Contador and Sanchez are 1:20 back on the Tour's very first day. That isn't so much for an unheralded rider, who might sneak into a break and make up a handful of minutes, but Contador is the overall favorite, and can't make a move without 10 very strong shadows. Unless Saxo Bank has an unbelievable team time trial tomorrow, Contador will have to make this time up in the mountains.


VeloNews | Philippe Gilbert wins stage 1 of 2011 Tour

CyclingNews | Gilbert conquers Mont des Alouettes

Posted by Frank Steele on July 2, 2011 in 2011 Stage 1, Cadel Evans, Christian Vande Velde, Fabian Cancellara, Thor Hushovd, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 24, 2009

Garmin-Slipstream makes Tour squad announcement

Garmin-Slipstream has announced their Tour squad.


  • Julian Dean
  • Tyler Farrar
  • Ryder Hesjedal
  • Dan Martin
  • David Millar
  • Danny Pate
  • Christian Vande Velde
  • Bradley Wiggins
  • David Zabriskie

Martijn Maaskant has been announced as the alternate. NOT riding the Tour are Tom Danielson, who also missed out last year; Will Frischkorn, who made it last year; or Canadian TT champion Svein Tuft.

Garmin's phenom Tyler Farrar will have one of the great lead-out men trying to put him in front of Mark Cavendish at the finish line, and Irish champion Dan Martin, nephew to 1987 Tour and Giro champ and world champion Stephen Roche, makes his first Tour start.

It's a team with great TT riders: Zabriskie, Millar, Vande Velde, Pate, Wiggins, and Hesjedal. As with Farrar, you have to wonder if they'll be fast enough to take revenge on Columbia-High Road, which beat Garmin by six seconds at the Giro d'Italia team time trial in May.


Slipstream Sports | Team Garmin-Slipstream announces Tour de France roster

CyclingNews.com | Garmin-Slipstream names its nine for the Tour

Posted by Frank Steele on June 24, 2009 in 2009 Tour de France, Bradley Wiggins, Christian Vande Velde, Danny Pate, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Julian Dean, Tom Danielson, Will Frischkorn | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 29, 2008

Stars and Stripes on offer this weekend in Greenville

Zabriskie hammersThe 2008 US Pro Cycling championships are this weekend in Greenville, and organizers have made a few changes I think will improve the fan experience. I've been to each of the Greenville championships, and had a great time at each -- if you're in the Southeast or mid-Atlantic, you should definitely consider the drive.

In 2005, the time trial championship (Dave Zabriskie's first title) was run on Friday, with the road race on Sunday. This had the advantage of a rest day between hard efforts for the riders, but the Friday TT drew crowds on par with a neighborhood swim meet.

Last year, organizers switched to a Saturday/Sunday alignment, which is probably best for fans (I might argue for Saturday/Monday, which would fill more Greenville hotel rooms and give riders trying to double a rest day). The TT course was a modified point-to-point, so there were only a few points on the course where you could see riders more than once. Additionally, access to the finish line was somewhat controlled by the community that hosted the finish, which ran satellite parking with shuttle buses to the finish.

This year, time trial action moves to Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research, where the 20.7-mile course is 3 laps of 6.9 miles. Because of looping and turnarounds, there will be spots on the course where you'll be able to see each rider 6 times, and parking and course access are reportedly far more open.

For Sunday's road race, organizers didn't monkey much with a successful formula, again bridging early and late laps of downtown Greenville with 4 longer loops that include the race-making climb of Paris Mountain.

Shirley, Leipheimer, HincapieUnfortunately, defending US champ Levi Leipheimer (left, with '07 2nd place Hincapie and 3rd place Neil Shirley) will be across the pond, racing in the Vuelta with Astana. Almost all the other usual suspects are penciled in: Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde, Fred Rodriguez, Tyler Hamilton, Tom Danielson, Danny Pate, and more, more, more. Two notable exceptions are Chris Horner and Bobby Julich.

I'll be there, as will Byron from Bike Hugger, Briggs from Euro Peloton and James from Bicycle Design. We're planning a meetup at Barley's Taproom Saturday at 5.

Look for live-blogging here and on Twitter, and for photos through the weekend in my Flickr photostream.


VeloNews.com | US Pro start lists

Time Trial course map (PDF version) | Road Race course map(PDF version)

Podium Cafe | Preview: USA Cycling Pro Championship

The PdC preview is intensely entertaining -- don't miss it.

podium in sight | US Pro Preview

Posted by Frank Steele on August 29, 2008 in 2008 USA Cycling Pro Championships, Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Danny Pate, Dave Zabriskie, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Tom Danielson, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 05, 2008

Where are they from?

I always review the nationalities breakdown for the Tour, with a special eye toward the English-speaking countries. Here's last year's, for comparison.

George Hincapie, Team Columbia
Christian Vande Velde, Garmin-Chipotle
Will Frischkorn, Garmin-Chipotle
Danny Pate, Garmin-Chipotle

This is the least in years, with Freddie Rodriguez riding in the U.S., Bobby Julich not selected, Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer barred with Astana, and David Zabriskie nursing a back injury.

Baden Cooke, Barloworld
Cadel Evans, Silence-Lotto
Simon Gerrans, Credit Agricole
Adam Hansen, Team Columbia
Brett Lancaster, Milram
Trent Lowe, Garmin-Chipotle
Robbie McEwen, Silence-Lotto
Stuart O'Grady, CSC-Saxo Bank
Mark Renshaw, Credit Agricole

Baden Cooke is back; Adam Hansen, Trent Lowe, and Mark Renshaw are new, and Michael Rogers is out.

Great Britain:
Mark Cavendish, Team Columbia
Christopher Froome, Barloworld
David Millar, Garmin-Chipotle

Out are Geraint Thomas, Bradley Wiggins and Charlie Wegelius. I've got Christopher Froome as being from Kenya, which isn't in the list below. Put him there, and Great Britain drops to just a pair.

New Zealand
Julian Dean, Garmin-Chipotle

As last year.

South Africa
Robbie Hunter, Barloworld
John-Lee Augustyn, Barloworld

Adds Augustyn.

Ryder Hesjedal, Garmin-Chipotle

First Canuck since 1997. Maybe Michael Barry will join him one year.

Here's the official breakdown, according to the Tour website:

40: France (2007 count in parentheses: 35)
30: Spain (42)
21: Italy (18)
16: Germany (19)
12: Belgium (13)
10: The Netherlands (7)
9: Australia (6)
4: USA (6), Russia (6) and Switzerland (5)
3: Colombia (3), Great Britain (5) and Luxembourg (2)
2: South Africa (1), Austria (3), Belarus (2), Norway (2), Sweden (1) and Ukraine (2)
1: Brazil (1), Canada (0), Denmark (1), Kazakhstan (4), New Zealand (1), Poland (0), Czech Republic (0), Slovakia (0) and Slovenia (1)

Spanish representation drops from 42 riders last year to 30 this year, with France jumping from 35 to 40.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 5, 2008 in About the Tour, Baden Cooke, Bobby Julich, Bradley Wiggins, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Danny Pate, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Julian Dean, Levi Leipheimer, Mark Cavendish, Michael Rogers, Robbie McEwen, Stuart O'Grady, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Will Frischkorn | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

April 24, 2008

Team Slipstream takes Georgia TTT

Originally uploaded by Frank Steele.

Team Slipstream took off fairly early today, edging CSC's leading lap times as they rode. They were amazingly smooth and disciplined, quietly storming around the course.

When Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner's Astana squad took the course, they quickly outpaced Slipstream's time on Laps 1 and 2 of the Road Atlanta race course, and it looked like we might have a new best time of the day, but a slow third lap left Astana 3 seconds short of the Argyle Army.

Last to leave the start house was George Hincapie and race leader Greg Henderson's Team High Road. Again, their early laps set the standard, but they faded late, charging to the line 5.2 seconds slower than Team Slipstream. High Road's Greg Henderson holds the lead by virtue of a few bonus seconds earned on the road, but Slipstream's got a strong quartet sitting at 15 seconds -- Tom Danielson, Trent Lowe, Christian Vande Velde and David Zabriskie.

CSC was 4th on the day at 12.72 seconds, Toyota-United 5th at 23.43. One team that has to be disappointed is Rock Racing, 10th at 52.35. If one of Rock's riders is going to contend, they'll have to climb over a lot of bodies to get there.

More, and many more photos, tonight.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 24, 2008 in Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, Levi Leipheimer, Tom Danielson, Tour de Georgia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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

VeloNews.com | Zabriskie defends pro ITT title | Casey Gibson photo gallery

Daily Peloton | 2007 USA Cycling Professional Time Trial Championship | Ben Ross photo gallery

cyclingnews.com | 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

June 15, 2007

Danielson to miss 2007 Tour

Danielson @ '07 TdG
Danielson @ '07 TdG,
originally uploaded by Frank Steele.
Buried in the VeloNews coverage of today's stage at the Dauphiné Libéré, there's a story:

Tom Danielson's illness will keep him out of the Tour de France this year.

“Tom is off the Tour team,” Discovery Channel boss Johan Bruyneel told VeloNews's Andrew Hood. “He’s sick. We’re trying to find out exactly what the problem is. He’s had stomach problems throughout the year at several key moments. It’s definitely a disappointment.”

Danielson, 29, won the 2005 Tour de Georgia, and led Discovery Channel at the 2006 Vuelta, where he won Stage 17, and was 6th overall. He was expected to make his first Tour start this season.


VeloNews | Friday's EuroFile: No Tour for Danielson

VeloNews follows up:

Bruyneel suggested Danielson would likely race the Vuelta a España, where he won a stage last year and twice finished in the top 10.

Depending on the speed of his recovery, he could also race the Tour of Austria (which he won last year) as well as the Tour of Quinghai Lake (which he won in 2002) in China, where the team will be going for the first time.

TomDanielson.com | Official web site

Posted by Frank Steele on June 15, 2007 in Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Tour de France 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 12, 2007

Danielson exits Dauphiné early

thepaceline.com | Stomach problems knock Danielson out

Discovery Channel's Tom Danielson exited the Dauphiné Libéré yesterday, complaining of stomach problems. Danielson was expected to make his first Tour de France start next month, but missed the Tour of Catalonia with a stomach virus and now will miss the Dauphiné's climbs.

Gerolsteiner's Heinrich Haussler won Stage 1, and looks to be a lock for Gerolsteiner's Tour squad.

Also dropping out was former world champion Igor Astarloa of Team Milram, suffering from toxoplasmosis. VeloNews reports Astarloa requires two weeks of rest, and will not start the Tour.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 12, 2007 in Igor Astarloa, Tom Danielson, Tour de France 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 20, 2007

Leipheimer takes Georgia TT; Brajkovic takes race lead

Dave Zabriskie
Dave Zabriskie,
originally uploaded by Frank Steele.
Discovery Channel won 2 races Thursday, as Levi Leipheimer topped CSC's Dave Zabriskie and Health Net's Nathan O'Neill for the stage win, and Janez Brajkovic was the fastest of the riders who made the break on Stage 3.

Brajkovic's time was enough to put him in the race leader's jersey in advance of today's climb up Brasstown Bald, but just 12 seconds ahead of Christian Vande Velde of CSC.

I've posted 96 pictures from the stage, including shots of Brajkovic, Dave Zabriskie (and at left), David Millar, Tyler Hamilton, and others.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 20, 2007 in Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Levi Leipheimer, Tom Danielson, Tour de Georgia, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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 | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 20, 2007

2007 Tour de Georgia teams announced

Rome News - Tribune | Top cycling teams to compete in Tour de Georgia

Tyler Hamilton and his Tinkoff Credit System team and David Millar of Prodir-Saunier Duval are two new additions likely to ride in this year's Tour de Georgia. Rider lists aren't confirmed, but it looks like Leipheimer, Hincapie, and Danielson highlight Discovery Channel; Chris Horner, Cadel Evans, and maybe Freddy Rodriguez for Predictor-Lotto; and Dave Zabriskie, Bobby Julich, and Juan José Haedo for CSC.

This is a great chance for East Coast fans to see ProTour teams compete, and a great chance for US racers to make a splash against Euro-quality talent.

Among ProTour teams:

• Team CSC
• Discovery Channel
• Quick Step-Innergetic
• Predictor-Lotto
• Prodir-Saunier Duval (which races in Europe as Saunier Duval-Prodir)

Three familiar Pro Continental squads are joined by Hamilton's Tinkoff Credit System:

• Health Net presented by Maxxis
• Team Slipstream presented by Chipotle
• Navigators Insurance
• Tinkoff Credit System

Five US Continental squads:

• Jittery Joe's
• Priority Health presented by Bissell
• Toyota-United
• Colavita/Sutter Home presented by Cooking Light

And, of course, the USA Cycling National Development Team.

More at my Tour de Georgia weblog.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 20, 2007 in Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Dave Zabriskie, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Levi Leipheimer, Tom Danielson, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 11, 2007

Millar takes Paris-Nice prologue

VeloNews | Millar takes Paris-Nice prologue

David Millar made it all the way back, with his biggest win since returning from an EPO suspension.

Saunier-Duval's Scottish time trial specialist scorched the 4.7 km course in 6:01. CSC's Bobby Julich won the prologue last year, but was slightly slower this year, finishing 11th on the day, at 6 seconds. Roman Kreuzinger of Czechoslovakia, riding for Liquigas, was just a tick back of Millar, and a tick ahead of FdJ's Sebastian Joly to fill out the podium.

Discovery Channel's Levi Leipheimer was 6th, 3 seconds behind Millar.

Dave Zabriskie was back in action after his accident at the Tour of California, finishing 40th, 14 seconds behind Millar. Discovery Channel's late signing, Alberto Contador, was 5th on the day.

Prologue standings
1) David Millar, Great Britain, Saunier Duval, in 6:01
2) Roman Kreuzinger, Czechoslovakia, Liquigas, at :01
3) Sébastien Joly, France, Francaise des Jeux, at :02
4) Luis Sanchez, Spain, Caisse d'Epargne, at :02
5) Alberto Contador, Spain, Discovery Channel, at :02
6) Levi Leipheimer, USA, Discovery Channel, at :03
7) Francisco Ventoso, Spain, Saunier Duval, at :04
8) Reinbert Wielinga, Netherlands, Saunier Duval, at :04
9) Thomas Lövkvist, Sweden, Française des Jeux, at :04
10) Joost Posthuma, Netherlands, Rabobank, at :05
11) Bobby Julich, USA, Team CSC, at :06
12) Thomas Voeckler, France, Bouygues Telecom, at :06
14) Franco Pellizotti, Italy, Liquigas, at :06
17) Cadel Evans, Australia, Predictor-Lotto, at :08
21) Luke Roberts, Australia, Team CSC, at :09
38) Simon Gerrans, Australia, AG2R, at :11
40) David Zabriskie, USA, Team CSC, at :11
43) Tom Danielson, USA, Discovery Channel, at :11
44) Yaroslav Popovych, Ukraine, Discovery Channel, at :11
49) Brett Lancaster, Australia, Milram, at :12
54) Tyler Farrar, USA, Cofidis, at :14
56) Tom Boonen, Belgium, Quick Step, at :14
62) Greg Henderson, New Zealand, T-Mobile, at :15
70) Chris Horner, USA, Predictor-Lotto, at :16
74) Christian Vande Velde, USA, Team CSC, at :17
86) Aaron Kemps, Australia, Astana, at :18
95) Mathew Hayman, Australia, Rabobank, at :21
125) Axel Merckx, Belgium, T-Mobile, at :26
126) Matthew White, Australia, Discovery Channel, at :26
136) Michael Barry, Canada, T-Mobile, at :28


cyclingnews.com | A new beginning for avowed anti-doper Millar | photo gallery

GrahamWatson.com | Paris-Nice prologue photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on March 11, 2007 in Alberto Contador, Bobby Julich, Cadel Evans, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Dave Zabriskie, David Millar, Levi Leipheimer, Paris-Nice 2007, Thomas Voeckler, Tom Boonen, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Yaroslav Popovych | 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)

February 09, 2007

Discovery Channel's '07 season to be its last

Discovery celebrates TdG team win

Discovery wins '06 Tour de Georgia team prize
Originally uploaded by Frank Steele.

USAToday.com | Discovery Channel ending its sponsorship of pro cycling

The Discovery Channel team will spend at least some of its 2007 season seeking a new title sponsor, after a management shakeup at the network, according to Sal Ruibal at USA Today.

With Monday's departure of Discovery Network president Billy Campbell, a longtime supporter of the team, the network decided not to extend a 3-year contract that started in the 2005 season. That's when Lance Armstrong won his 7th consecutive Tour de France. The team was previously sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service, which left the sport after negative publicity about the cost of its team sponsorship.

The AP quoted a Discovery Channel statement, which said the company “decided to aggressively shift our focus and resources to support our core business goals and objectives.”

With US national champion George Hincapie, defending Giro champion Ivan Basso, Levi Leipheimer, Yaroslav Popovych, and Tom Danielson, Tailwind Sports general manager Bill Stapleton should be well positioned to find a replacement sponsor.

On the other hand, the team has traditionally been sponsored by U.S. companies, which may be less likely to sponsor the team with Armstrong out of competition. The sport's continuous doping scandals may also discourage sponsors.


VeloNews | Paper reports Discovery to pull sponsorship plug

New York Times | Discovery to End Sponsorship of Team

Posted by Frank Steele on February 9, 2007 in George Hincapie, Ivan Basso, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Tom Danielson, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0)

September 14, 2006

Danielson wins Vuelta stage, Vinokourov takes race lead

VeloNews | Danielson wins Vuelta stage; Vino' seizes lead

Danielson's big dayIt's nice to have a little racing news, as Tom Danielson of Discovery Channel took Wednesday's Stage 17 of the Vuelta a España, leading Alexandre Vinokourov across the line. Vinokourov took a 9-second lead on Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde.

Valverde doesn't want to see things go down to the final time trial on Saturday, so he told Eurosport he'll be all-out in today's final mountain stage, up the Pandera:

“Nothing is lost. Things will happen on the Pandera. You can't forget that I won here two years ago and have lots of affection for this climb.”

Danielson, who came to the Vuelta as Discovery's GC contender, couldn't hang during the early stages of the Vuelta, but rebounded to take the day after dropping 5 breakaway mates on the day's second 1st-Category climb.

Vinokourov, who has never worn a Grand Tour leader's jersey until now, was able to ride away from Valverde and Sastre on the day's last major climb after teammate Andrey Kashechkin and Jose Angel Gomez Marchante of Saunier Duval cranked up the pace to make a wicked selection. Valverde fought back onto Vino's wheel early in the descent, but the Astana leader slowly pulled away until, with 9 kilometers to ride, he had 32 seconds on Valverde, and sat 13 seconds behind Danielson.

When Vino caught Danielson, the two worked together to maximize the break, while Valverde had to do almost all the work in his small group alone, shadowed by Kashechkin. Euskaltel's Samuel Sanchez attacked out of this group to take 3rd on the day.

Top 10:
1) Tom Danielson, Discovery Channel, USA
2) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, same time
3) Samuel Sanchez, Euskeltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 1:10
4) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, at 1:39
5) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, same time
6) Stephane Goubert, AG2R, France, s.t.
7) Luis Perez, Cofidis, Spain, s.t.
8) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, s.t.
9) Jose Angel Gomez Marchante, Saunier Duval, s.t.
10) Leonardo Piepoli, Saunier Duval, s.t.

1) Alexandre Vinokourov, Astana, Kazakhstan, 67:29:41
2) Alejandro Valverde, Caisse d'Epargne, Spain, at :09
3) Carlos Sastre, CSC, Spain, at 1:51
4) Andrey Kashechkin, Astana, Kazakhstan, at 2:14
5) Jose Angel Gomez Marchante, Saunier Duval, at 4:32
6) Tom Danielson, Discovery Channel, USA, at 6:07
7) Manuel Beltran, Discovery Channel, Spain, at 6:33
8) Samuel Sanchez, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Spain, at 7:25
9) Vladimir Karpets, Caisse d'Epargne, Russia, at 7:49
10) Luis Perez, Cofidis, Spain, at 9:04


CyclingNews | Vinokourov and Danielson combine to unseat Valverde | Results | Photo Gallery

GrahamWatson.com | Vuelta a España Stage 17 photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on September 14, 2006 in Alejandro Valverde, Alexandre Vinokourov, Andrey Kashechkin, Carlos Sastre, Denis Menchov, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Vladimir Karpets, Vuelta a España, Vuelta a España 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 26, 2006

It's Vuelta time

It's time to kick off the year's 3rd grand tour, and it feels more like the 15th round of a prizefight.

Even though all riders passed their pre-Vuelta blood screens, one rider will miss the start over doping concerns. Saunier Duval-Prodir has dropped their Vuelta leader Koldo Gil on a belief that he's implicated in Operación Puerto. It apparently results from his days with Manolo Saiz and Liberty Seguros, but Saunier Duval's Joxean Fernandez told AS (in Spanish) “we don't want to take any risks over a potential problem that has nothing to do with us.” Gil rode strongly at the Tour of Switzerland, coming second to Jan Ullrich.

Caisse d'Epargne's Alejandro Valverde, back from a broken collarbone at the Tour de France, is the race favorite, with Tour winner-in-waiting Oscar Pereiro as his superdomestique.

CSC's Carlos Sastre has never met a grand tour he didn't like, as he takes the start of his 5th consecutive GT, last missing the 2005 Giro.

Conversely, Alexandre Vinokourov wasn't allowed to start the Tour in July, but Astana (who has signed to use BMC's funky Swiss carbon-fiber frames now that Phonak is leaving the sport) will have a full squad backing Vinokourov in the Vuelta, while wrangling continues over the future of the team's ProTour license and management.

Best hope for the United States is Tom Danielson of Discovery Channel, riding his first GT as the undisputed team leader. Danielson, 28, talked with Andrew Hood of VeloNews about his Vuelta hopes.

Milram's Alessandro Petacchi is back to racing, but poormouthing his Vuelta chances, tapping teammate Erik Zabel for the sprinter's jersey. Robbie McEwen looks to join Petacchi as the 4th rider to win multiple stages of all 3 GTs in a single year -- Petacchi in 2003 as well as Miguel Poblet in 1956 and Pierino Baffi in 1958 are the others.

Reigning Vuelta champ Denis Menchov, who won the race when Roberto Heras tested positive for EPO and was stripped of the title, says the Vuelta was his “secondary objective” behind the Tour, and he doesn't “feel as sharp and this affects you physically as well.” Menchov's Rabobank squad won't be distracted trying to set Oscar Freire up for wins, as Freire pulled out earlier this week, citing a neck injury.

The TV coverage is debuting a “seatpost camera,” that will mimic the rear-facing cameras used in NASCAR, and rotate among riders daily. Also new will be in-car cameras for interviews with team directors. On the other hand, the Vuelta will dispense with publishing heart rate monitor data, since most teams wouldn't allow their key riders' data to be published. In the US, to see the coverage, you'll have to subscribe to Cycling.TV's web streaming feed.


Vuelta a España official site | (in English) | (in Spanish) | (in French)

cycling4all.com | Vuelta a España 2006 start list

Previews: CyclingNews | Cycloblog

Posted by Frank Steele on August 26, 2006 in Alessandro Petacchi, Alexandre Vinokourov, Carlos Sastre, Denis Menchov, Erik Zabel, Oscar Freire, Robbie McEwen, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Vuelta a España 2006 | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 18, 2006

Basso the new boss at Discovery?

Eurosport | Riis denies Basso Discovery link

Eurosport quotes from La Gazzetta dello Sport (in Italian) that Ivan Basso might jump ship to Discovery Channel in the off-season.

CSC director Bjarne Riis says that's just one of those crazy Tour rumors, and that he is “still regularly in contact” with Basso.

The deal might make sense for Discovery Channel if the team has decided it needs to compete for the Tour victory every year to satisfy its sponsors; Yaroslav Popovych is a possible future Tour winner, but probably 2-3 years from being a race favorite, and Tom Danielson is unproven in longer stage races.

Basso is still training, and says he wants to ride in September's Vuelta.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 18, 2006 in Ivan Basso, Tom Danielson, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 09, 2006

Friday afternoon fun: Race2Replace webisodes

Discovery Channel Team Webisodes (Click “Race to Replace,” then “Webisodes”)

I realized last night that the webisodes available on the Race2Replace website are one or two full episodes ahead of those posted on the iTunes Music Store. That means that if you're subscribed to the iTMS podcast feed, you're currently 2 very interesting webisodes behind.

The first, “Johan the Great,” is a profile of Discovery's DS, Johan Bruyneel. The 2nd, “The Showdown at Brasstown,” provides some more fodder for the debate about the Danielson/Floyd Landis showdown on Brasstown Bald.

In it, Bruyneel repeatedly reins in Tom Danielson, pinning him to Landis's wheel like a misbehaving pup. He tries to get Danielson to feign weakness, then makes him save it all for a last-k attack, which, of course, didn't crack Landis.

The production quality on these is terrific, and they provide some fairly intimate background on the riders. Hincapie's wife and rehab featured prominently in a recent episode, while McCartney's desperate need for a bathroom during Stage 2 of the TdG features in the latest. One interesting exclusion is any discussion of the cause of Hincapie's crash at Paris-Roubaix; if this was your first exposure to it, you might think he just flopped off his bike on the slippery cobbles.


VeloNews.com | The man behind the wheel: A conversation with Johan Bruyneel

Posted by Frank Steele on June 9, 2006 in Floyd Landis, George Hincapie, Links, Tom Danielson, Tour de Georgia | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 27, 2006

Danielson exits Giro, will lead Discovery at Vuelta

VeloNews.com | Danielson leaves Giro; Confirmed as leader for Vuelta

Discovery Channel's Tom Danielson didn't take the start this morning at Stage 20 of the Giro d'Italia. Team director Johan Bruyneel said Danielson has been suffering from sinusitis, and that his fever worsened overnight.

Danielson had hoped for a top 10 finish, but was sitting in 16th after yesterday's stage.

Bruyneel also confirmed that Danielson will be the team's Vuelta leader:

"He has combination of time-trailing and climbing that you need to be a contender in major tours, but only time will tell whether he's a guy who can go for the top five, the podium or the win in major tours," Bruyneel said. "He finished in the top ten in his first full major tour and that was really good to see, but we're not going to raise our expectations too high either. We have to be realistic."

Posted by Frank Steele on May 27, 2006 in Tom Danielson, Vuelta a España | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 26, 2006

Garate takes Stage 19, new papa Basso comfortable in Giro lead

On paper, Stage 17 was this year's Giro queen stage. But when weather and team dissent led organizers to behead the queen, chopping off the top of the stage, today's stage stepped in. With four big climbs in 224 kilometers, it was the best chance for somebody to try to put the hurt on king-to-be Ivan Basso, celebrating the birth this morning of his second child, a son.

A solid early break got 5 minutes on the field over the second major climb. The highest placed rider was Danilo Di Luca, 12th at 18:27, and some other familiar names were along, including Bobby Julich and Jens Voigt of CSC, Paolo Bettini and Juan Manuel Garate of QuickStep, Johan Tschopp of Phonak, and Francisco Vila of Lampre.

On the Pordoi, Bettini and Julich were quickly off the back, and Ceramica Panaria's Fortunato Baliani led the group over the top, nearly 7 minutes ahead of the pack, to take the lead in the climber's jersey competition.

At the foot of the last climb, Di Luca, Garate, and Voigt were riding with Tschopp, Lampre's Evgeni Petrov, Tadej Valjavec, and Francisco Vila, Ceramica Panaria's Baliani, Laverde, and Emanuele Sella, Patrice Halgand, and Ivan Parra.

Valjavec launched the first attack, joined quickly by Voigt. Parra and Villa tried to bridge, but never quite made it. Parra fell off Villa's pace, to be replaced by Garate, and that pair caught Valjavec and Voigt. Valjavec quickly attacked again, and was countered by Garate, who gapped the trio, only to have Voigt (!) jump out and catch his wheel.

Back in the field, Piepoli turned on the burners, and Simoni, Cunego, and Basso were the only ones who could match him. Once again, Savoldelli was quickly off the back, and once again Discovery's Tom Danielson led him in. Gutierrez drifted off the leaders' group, and Simoni smelled 2nd on the GC, and attacked. Basso and Cunego countered, but Cunego couldn't match the pace, and yo-yoed desperately on and off Basso and Simoni, slowly drifting back, but passing break survivors along the way.

In the last few kilometers, everyone had to be thinking back to the 2005 Tour, and George Hincapie's win over Phonak's Oscar Pereiro after Pereiro had set pace all day. Today, we had a big generalist/superdomestique, Voigt, teammate of the overall race leader, riding alongside a climber, Garate, with an uphill finish, and again, it looked like the big man, Voigt, had played all his cards right for the win. Voigt patiently sat in, and then, with less than 300 meters to go, he patted Garate on the back, gave him a little push, and sat up.

Garate couldn't believe his luck; he had tried to ride Voigt off his wheel unsuccessfully, and now, he was handing Garate the win? The little man, riding in his Spanish champion's jersey, put a safe cushion behind him, still glancing nervously several times back at Voigt, then with 50 meters to ride, he pointed back, acknowledging the gift, zipped his jersey, and took the stage.

Back with the GC riders, the question was, where's Gutierrez? Simoni looked a little like Gibos past, and he and Basso led in all riders not involved in the break, finishing 7th and 8th at 2:15. Behind them, Cunego and Gutierrez, both of whom had looked near popping, were clawing for every inch, and Gutierrez came 11th at 2:39 and Cunego 12th at 2:40. Savoldelli, Piepoli, Baliani, Danielson, Sandy Casar and Victor Hugo Peña finished together at 4:16, while Pellizotti came in at 5:11.

On GC, that means Basso leads by 6:07, with Gutierrez in 2nd, 4:27 clear of Simoni, who now has a 2:25 cushion on Savoldelli. Pellizotti falls from 5th to 6th, while Cunego pole-vaults from 8th to 5th, now 15:13 back.

One notable DNF, as Jan Ullrich drops out, complaining of back pain.

Five riders were still competing in Liberty Seguros jerseys, and the team ownership promises the team will continue through the end of the season, even without a large portion of the 8 million euros Liberty was kicking in.

cyclingnews.com | Report & Results

Posted by Frank Steele on May 26, 2006 in Bobby Julich, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, George Hincapie, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jens Voigt, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 24, 2006

Piepoli pips Basso on shortened Stage 17

Saunier Duval's Leonardo Piepoli took another stage win today, as organizers chopped off the brutal final 5.5-kilometer final climb to Plan de Corones in recognition of the nasty weather. Race temperatures were below freezing on the mountaintops, and a steady rain fell for much of the stage.

Piepoli sheltered team leader Gilberto Simoni until late on the climb, then rode across when the leading pack broke into two 4-man bunches, joining CSC's Ivan Basso, Phonak's José Enrique Gutierrez, and Ceramica Panaria's Julio Perez. Gutierrez saw Simoni was isolated and pushed the pace, but in the last kilometer, he gave way to the Italian duo, and Piepoli showed a little in the last few meters to discourage Basso from contesting the finish.

The stage conclusion pretty much mirrored what we've been seeing throughout the Giro: Basso and Piepoli are the strongest climbers in the Giro, and Gutierrez of Phonak is a tick behind. Double Giro winner Simoni of Saunier Duval-Prodir just doesn't have the legs to contend in the overall, but he did back onto the podium today, with Discovery Channel's Paolo Savoldelli losing 1:29 and third place overall, and being shepherded in by (major correction: provisional results had Tom Danielson) teammate José Rubiera in 16th place. Savoldelli told CyclingNews:

“Well my Giro is getting worse day by day,” lamented Savoldelli. “I still have motivation, but I'm not competitive. But I'm hanging tough and my team is working really well. Because of the rain, I'm feeling better today from my allergies, but I'm still not competitive. I want to do more but I just don't have the legs.”

Damiano Cunego climbed much of the final ascent on his own, down around 9th place, then caught and passed Simoni in the day's last meters, to finish 7th on the day at :41, improving to 5th overall.

Liquigas' Franco Pellizotti managed to bridge to Basso in the last couple of kilometers, but was dropped along with Gutierrez when Piepoli and Basso smelled the finish line. Look for more from him tomorrow, as the Giro travels to his home region.

Ullrich watchers: He was 120th, at 11:11.

Top 10:

1) Leonardo Piepoli, Saunier Duval-Prodir, in 3:21:26
2) Ivan Basso, Team CSC, same time
3) José Enrique Gutierrez, Phonak, at :15
4) Franco Pellizotti, Liquigas, at :19
5) Julio Perez, Ceramica Panaria-Navigare, at :28
6) John Gadret, AG2R, at :37
7) Damiano Cunego, Lampre, at :41
8) Gilberto Simoni, Saunier Duval-Prodir, at :48
9) Sergio Ghisalberti, Team Milram, at :58
10) Giampaolo Caruso, Liberty Seguros, same time

Posted by Frank Steele on May 24, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Filippo Pozzato, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Paolo Savoldelli, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 20, 2006

Piepoli takes Stage 13; Basso still the man

cyclingnews.com | Giro d'Italia Stage 13

Saunier Duval-Prodir's Leonardo Piepoli descended faster than a Falco Saturday to win Stage 13 at the Giro. Piepoli, a climbing specialist, took his first Giro win.

Ivan Basso once again showed he's the class of the contenders, blowing up the field on the ascent of Colle San Carlo, and actually losing time on the closing descent to La Thuile, as he took it gently on slick roads.

Piepoli, who spent last Sunday's climb to the Maielletta shepherding team leader Gilberto Simoni, was given free rein Saturday, and made the most of it. He crested the last climb with Basso, then put 44 seconds into CSC's leader on the descent.

José Enrique Gutierrez of Phonak and Simoni, were 3rd and 4th on the day, at 1:19 to Piepoli, losing 35 seconds to Basso. They topped the climb at 1:24, but pulled Basso back somewhat on the descent. Damiano Cunego, who looked like the most promising contender on last Sunday, rode in with Discovery's Paolo Savoldelli, 2:36 back of Piepoli.

Basso just keeps building his cushion on the GC, now leading Gutierrez by 3:27, Savoldelli by 5:30, Wladimir Belli by 7:35, and Simoni by 8:00. Danielson's 7th, at 8:35, Cunego's 8th, at 8:58, and Di Luca is 9th at 10:36.

Selle Italia's José Rujano, who animated last year's Giro, abandoned on the road, possibly owing to his strange contract, which has him moving to Quick Step June 1. Thomas Vaitkus, who won Stage 9, also abandoned on the road. T-Mobile's Michael Rogers didn't start because of a toothache, while triple stage winner Robbie McEwen didn't start, complaining of a minor illness.


VeloNews.com | Basso tightens grip on Giro as Piepoli earns tough win

cyclingnews.com | Stage 13 photo gallery

GrahamWatson.com | Stage 13 photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on May 20, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Michael Rogers, Paolo Savoldelli, Robbie McEwen, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (1)

May 18, 2006

Ullrich rocks Giro, takes TT

VeloNews.com | Ullrich shows his form; Basso solidifies grip on jersey

Looks like Jan Ullrich is TT-fit for the Tour de France.

T-Mobile's 1997 Tour champion scorched the 50-kilometer (31 mile) time trial course today, finishing in 58:48, for his first race victory since last year's Tour of Germany.

Ullrich showed he's got the numerator down on the power-to-weight ratio, and the upcoming mountains should help him shrink his, um, denominator.

"To beat Ivan Basso is going to give me a huge morale boost. I knew right from the start that I was going to have a good day.

Giro leader Ivan Basso of CSC was 2nd on the day in 59:16, 28 seconds back, but ahead of Italian TT champion Marco Pinotti, at 1:01, T-Mobile's Sergei Honchar, at 1:09, and Paolo Savoldelli, at 1:19. Phonak's José Enrique Gutierrez rounds out the top 6 at 1:42.

Damiano Cunego, who was best able to hang with Basso on Sunday's first big climb of the Giro, lost 5:06 (!) to Basso in today's TT, and Gilberto Simoni and Danilo Di Luca did only slightly better.

In the GC, Gutierrez remains in 2nd, now 2:48 back, while Savoldelli slips to 3rd behind Honchar at 3:24 and 3:26. Discovery Channel's Tom Danielson is now 5th overall, 5:38 back, with Cunego 8th at 6:54, Simoni 9th at 7:13, and Di Luca 10th at 7:33.


cyclingnews.com | Jan's one mean motor scooter

Enormous picture of Ullrich at Gazzetta dello Sport

Posted by Frank Steele on May 18, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 15, 2006

Lindsey: Race to Replace has "excellent disaster potential"

Mountain Bike | There’ll Never Be Another Lance

Joe Lindsey is afraid that the gimmick casting/reality show that is Discovery Channel's Race to Replace is a bad, bad, idea.

In case you've been under a rock, here's the basic idea: Team Discovery needs to find the next Lance Armstrong to lead the team. Contestants will sign up online, and on August 12th, some group of contestants will race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The contest winner will line up with the team at the US Pro Championships in Greenville, SC, in September.

Says Lindsey:

Details at this time are, as they say, sketchy. Is it mass-start or a time trial? Will there be categories? Is it part of any official USA Cycling program? Will pro racers like Danielson, or even USAC-licensed elite amateurs, be allowed to compete?

We don’t know. Here’s what we do know: This has excellent disaster potential.

What if the winner's a Fred, and wipes out half the field? What if he's dropped 500 yards into the race? Lindsey thinks the whole thing belittles the long monastic struggle most riders face before they can line up with the elite pros.

I'm a little more sanguine about the whole thing. The whole idea still isn't fleshed out, but I'll bet there's no intention for somebody with zero pack racing experience to actually race the full pro championships in September. I'm betting the winner will either a) be part of the U23 team Discovery sponsors (or another national-level amateur), or b) some member of Joe Public. If it's “A”, this is a great chance for the Discovery networks to showcase the talented young racers out there. If it's “B”, I imagine he'll get to ride with the pack through the neutral start, then, with loud cheers and plenty of media attention, be escorted off the course.

And it may yet wind up that the contest is only for “team leadership”: The team has promised a series of “webisodes” looking at candidates to replace Armstrong as the leader of Team Discovery starting today. They're pretty much who you would expect: Danielson, Popovych, Hincapie, Ekimov, Rubiera, Savoldelli, and Azevedo. How this “contest” links to the other contest is anybody's guess.

In any case, the ads (featuring personalities from Discovery shows) are cute and memorable, any interest in the contest is a plus for US cycling awareness, and the whole project should help maintain Discovery's image as the leading American cycling team.

For now, there's this teaser, a free iTunes version of the RtR's TV ad (All the other ads are available free, as well), and “raw footage” from the making of the webisodes here.

Posted by Frank Steele on May 15, 2006 in George Hincapie, Lance Armstrong, Links, Paolo Savoldelli, Television, Tom Danielson, Viatcheslav Ekimov, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 14, 2006

Basso ascendant: Takes Stage 8, Giro lead

CyclingNews.com | Stage 8 - Sunday, May 14

Ivan Basso announced his presence with authority on Sunday, taking control of the 2006 Giro d'Italia.

Basso rode alongside the other race favorites on the day's final climb, and one by one, they cracked. Race leader Sergei Honchar was among the first, but surprisingly, Discovery Channel's defending Giro champ Paolo Savoldelli also quickly went off the back, as did 2005 Giro revelation José Rujano.

Hometown hero Danilo Di Luca was next, yoyoing off a small group, while Basso sat spinning comfortably on the wheel of teammate Carlos Sastre. Like Basso, Gilberto Simoni was riding with a teammate, Leonardo Piepoli, and also in the leading group were Damiano Cunego, Phonak's Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Luca Mazzanti and Giampaolo Caruso.

Rujano bravely fought back onto the select group, and launched the first attack. Sastre let him dangle off the front like a rabbit leading the greyhounds, and Rujano was recaptured within a kilometer or so. Next to go was Cunego with 4k to the summit, and he went hard. Only Basso could hold his wheel, but he did so with seeming ease, and after perhaps 150 meters, Basso soloed off the front.

Cunego couldn't respond, and 2-time Giro champ Simoni watched Basso ride away, seemingly content to ease in, riding on Piepoli's wheel. This was a stage where Simoni needed to regain some of the time lost in Saunier Duval-Prodir's team time trial, but instead, he lost another 1:15. That's got to depress his team, which spent much of today controlling the race to give Simoni a chance at the stage and some GC. Simoni after the stage:

"When Cunego went I was already at my limit, so I couldn't respond," said the two-time Giro champion. "Basso, on the contrary, had no fear. This was impressive. He did a great climb today. He's going to be difficult to beat, because he also has a very strong team."

Di Luca was trapped in no-man's land, behind the leaders, but ahead of the group that formed around Savoldelli and Andrea Noè.

When the dust cleared, Basso had won the stage, and sits 1:34 up on Phonak's José Enrique Gutierrez in the GC. Savoldelli was shepherded to the line by Tom Danielson, but lost 2:20 on the day. Il Falco's Giro may not be over, but he's going to need some extraordinary performances and extraordinary luck to win it - he's 2:35 back, with 2 weeks featuring loads more of the same to go.

Savoldelli quoted in CyclingNews:

"The Giro is not finished here...I knew Basso was strongest and I knew that I wasn't on a good day right away when the climb started. I went into the red zone right away and couldn't hold the pace. Thanks to Danielson, I was able to limit the loss. But the next step is the TT and then, the last week is so hard. But to lose 2'35 on the first climb, that's a lot... it should be 1'20". But I'm still optimistic."

Basso's ride was just stunning. He looked so comfortable, turning an easy rhythm and dropping everyone in sight, and credit for his freshness has to go largely to Carlos Sastre, who did a monster turn setting tempo on the final climb to Maielletta.


Eurosport.com | Basso claims pink jersey in style

VeloNews.com | Advantage Basso

CyclingNews.com | Results | General Classification | Photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on May 14, 2006 in Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Leonardo Piepoli, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 11, 2006

So what happened to Discovery?

VeloNews.com | Basso gets big boost as CSC storms TTT

ThePaceLine.com (free reg. required) | Graham Watson: Stage 5 TTT Analysis

ThePaceline.com | Giro d'Italia Stage 5 TTT Report

Maybe the biggest surprise today was the subpar showing from Discovery, which has been dominant in recent Tour TTTs, and finished 3rd, 39 seconds back, or to make it sound worse, 3 seconds in front of Liquigas.

The Paceline's TTT wrapup noted that the team wasn't using aerobars across the board, with only the first 3 riders tucking. Graham Watson points out that Savoldelli wasn't taking many pulls, which he says “hints that the team was saving his legs and energy for a forthcoming stage.” Danielson, on the other hand, was “doing long, long turns on the front of the train, a demonstration imitated by Jason McCartney as well.” Somebody wasn't pulling through, though, because Ekimov got so cooked he was dropped on the finishing straight.

My guess, from seeing the web stream and the photographs, is that the team's inexperience in the discipline is what cost them. Neither Danielson nor McCartney had ever done a TTT before. The squad lost most of their time on the front end, dropping 24 seconds in the first 9.7 kms, 9th best. From then on, Discovery was a solid 3rd at each time check. Danielson told VeloNews he had trouble grabbing a wheel after his pulls, and perhaps the team wasn't as coordinated as in past years, when Discovery reportedly practiced the TTT with an eye toward the Tour.

And hey -- maybe it was just bad luck. Sean Yates is running the team here, and rode in the Giro's last team time trial in 1989. Near the finish, a black cat ran onto the course, catching Yates's wheel and causing a chain reaction in the 7-Eleven squad.

Either way, the damage was slight, and Danielson also told VeloNews, “I feel like I'm getting stronger every day of this Giro.”

Jan Ullrich's teammate, race leader Sergei Honchar, says the team is focused on July, not May, and that it was all he could do to stay with the squad when Ullrich and Rogers reached full boil: "In the last 5k I was having trouble breathing, they were pulling so hard."

Of course, mad TTT skillz won't mean diddly come July -- the Tour won't feature a team time trial this year.


cyclingnews.com | Driver's seat: Scott Sunderland's Giro diary 2006

Posted by Frank Steele on May 11, 2006 in Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Michael Rogers, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Tom Danielson, Viatcheslav Ekimov | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 06, 2006

Savoldelli takes Giro Stage 1

Defending Giro champion Paolo Savoldelli of Discovery Channel took today's short time trial in Belgium.

Savoldelli was the only rider to covered the 6.2 kilometers in less than 8 minutes. His 7:50 was 11 seconds faster than Française des Jeux's Bradley McGee, and 13 seconds ahead of José Enrigue Gutierrez of Phonak.

Among other favorites, Danilo Di Luca was 10th on the day, at 19 seconds, Ivan Basso was at 23 seconds, Cunego was at :25, and Gilberto Simoni was at :26.

Paolo Bettini, who had hoped to wear the race leader's jersey after Stage 3, came in at 8:32, so he'll need to take 42 seconds out of Savoldelli.

Among Americans, Bobby Julich finished in 8:35, Tom Danielson was in at 8:11, Jason McCartney at 8:21, Phonak's Patrick McCarty, starting his first grand tour, was 93rd in 8:44, and Saunier-Duval's Aaron Olson, likewise starting his first GT, finished in 9:07.

Jan Ullrich finished in 8:39 for 80th on the day.

Top 10:
1) Paolo Savoldelli, Discovery Channel, in 7:50
2) Bradley McGee, Française des Jeux, at :11
3) José Enrique Gutierrez, Phonak, at :13
4) Stefan Schumacher, Gerolsteiner, same time
5) Serguei Honchar, T-Mobile, at :15
6) Francisco Perez, Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, at :16
7 José Ivan Gutierrez, Caisse d'Epargne-Illes Balears, same time
8) Michael Rogers, T-Mobile, at :17
9) Davide Rebellin, Gerolsteiner, at :18
10) Danilo Di Luca, Liquigas, at :19


VeloNews.com | Savoldelli throws down the gauntlet

Eurosport | Back in pink for Savoldelli

cyclingnews.com | Full results | Photo gallery

Tickers: Daily Peloton | VeloNews | cyclingnews.com

Posted by Frank Steele on May 6, 2006 in Bobby Julich, Bradley McGee, Damiano Cunego, Danilo Di Luca, Davide Rebellin, Giro d'Italia 2006, Giro d’Italia, Ivan Basso, Jan Ullrich, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Michael Rogers, Paolo Bettini, Paolo Savoldelli, Sergei Honchar, Stefan Schumacher, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 24, 2006

Landis takes 2006 Tour de Georgia; Haedo gets his stage win

Floyd Landis took another big win on Sunday, finishing safely in the pack to win the 2006 Tour de Georgia.

Juan José Haedo, the Toyota-United sprinter who had made two podiums without a win, edged double defending TdG Stage 6 winner Gord Fraser and Phonak's Aurelien Clerc for the stage win.

Discovery Channel dominated the race, taking the team classification, the king of the mountains (Jason McCartney), the best young rider (Janez Brajkovic), a yellow jersey (Yaroslav Popovych), two stage wins (Popovych in Rome, Danielson on Brasstown Bald), and the 2nd and 3rd rung of the podium.

But the day belonged to Floyd Landis, who dug deep to hang with Danielson and Popovych on Brasstown Bald, protecting his 4-second race lead. He also survived a minor scare on Sunday, when he flatted late during the finishing circuits in Alpharetta, but was able to rejoin the field quickly.

An early 15-man breakaway was slowly reeled in, a few riders at a time, until only HealthNet-Maxxis' Jeff Louder and TIAA-CREF's Will Frischkorn stood between the sprinters and a podium, and Haedo's Toyota-United team and Fast Freddie Rodriguez' Davitamon-Lotto squad did the lion's share of the chasing.

I've posted a Flickr photoset of Stage 6.

More at my Tour de Georgia weblog.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 24, 2006 in Floyd Landis, Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Tour de Georgia, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0)

April 23, 2006

Danielson takes Brasstown Bald, but Landis holds race lead

Unbelievable. I'll never doubt Floyd Landis again. Before the stage, I thought there was no way he would be able to last mano a mano with Discovery's Tom Danielson.

But that's just what Landis did on the biggest climb in the Tour de Georgia, the 3 mile+ ascent of Brasstown Bald. Discovery's Danielson and Yaroslav Popovych took turns attacking Landis, who marked Danielson and eventually let Popo go. Discovery, realizing that Popovych wasn't going to get enough time to take the race lead, eventually let Danielson attack Popovych to try to finish Landis directly. Landis wasn't cracking.

Landis has got to top the short list of American Tour de France contenders, as he looks likely to add the 2006 Tour de Georgia title to the Tour of California and Paris-Nice titles he's already won this season.

Check out my Stage 5 Flickr photoset.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 23, 2006 in Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Tour de Georgia, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 17, 2006

VeloNews offers TdG preview

VeloNews.com | 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:

cyclingnews.com | 2006 Tour de Georgia -- Allez Ya'll

AMDProCycling.com | Michael Barry Journal: Tour de Georgia

ThePaceline.com (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 12, 2006

Tour de Georgia final rosters announced

Tour de Georgia 2006 | Teams

The Tour de Georgia has released the official final start list for the six-stage jaunt around Georgia, kicking off Tuesday in Augusta.

Last year's overall winner, Tom Danielson of Discovery Channel, returns, supported by Yaroslav Popovych, Viatcheslav Ekimov, new Discos Trent Lowe and Egoi Martinez, Michael Barry, Jason McCartney, and Janez Brajkovic.

CSC will be headlined by David Zabriskie, Jakob Piil and Brian Vandborg, who won Stage 4 of last year's TdG.

Phonak brings Georgia veterans Floyd Landis, who won the time trial last year and took 3rd overall, South African sprinter Robbie Hunter, José Enrique Gutierrez, and Aurélien Clerc.

QuickStep is a new addition for the Tour de Georgia, possibly a result of their acquisition by Georgia's Mohawk Industries, but they can't spare Tom Boonen or Paolo Bettini right now. Instead, they'll feature American-Italian Guido Trenti and Davide Bramati.

The Tour de Georgia page mentions Robbie McEwen as the headliner for Davitamon-Lotto, but he's not listed on the team roster just below. Daily Peloton shows a different roster, with McEwen instead of Pieter Mertens. McEwen's official website is mum on his upcoming calendar. In either case, “Fast” Freddie Rodriguez and Henk Vogels both are former Tour de Georgia stage winners who will spice things up. Chris Horner is staying in Europe.

Prodir-Saunier Duval rounds out the ProTour squads, with Luciano Pagliarini, Marco Pinotti, American Aaron Olson, and Canadian national champion Charles Dionne.

HealthNet-Maxxis headlines the 'Continental' teams. Gord Fraser and 2005 TdG sprint jersey winner Greg Henderson are joined by Nathan O'Neill, the only 7-time Aussie time trial champion living in Braselton, Georgia, coming off an overall win at the Tour of Redlands and a Commonwealth Games gold medal already this season.

Also in the field is the new Toyota-United Pro team, with Ivan Dominguez, Chris Wherry, former Discovery rider Antonio Cruz, and Juan Jose Haedo.

Local favorites Jittery Joe's, out of Athens, Georgia, have added Trent Wilson, formerly of Colombia-Selle Italia. They're also sponsoring a party bus to the top of Brasstown Bald.

Ex-Jittery Joe's rider Cesar Grajales, who won the queen stage of the 2004 Tour de Georgia, now rides for Navigators, and will ride here with Ben Brooks and Phil Zajicek, and others.

Other Continental squads participating include the Colavita-Sutter Home team, Jelly Belly, Kodakgallery.com-Sierra Nevada, Targetraining, and Team TIAA-CREF, featuring Craig Lewis.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 12, 2006 in Floyd Landis, Fred Rodriguez, Jose Enrique Gutierrez, Robbie McEwen, Tom Danielson, Top Stories | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 22, 2006

Quick Step, Davitamon-Lotto to line up at Tour de Georgia

Rome News - Tribune | Tour de Georgia 2006 announces teams

Look for 6 ProTour teams in this year's Tour de Georgia, running April 18 - April 23 in my backyard.

Team CSC, Discovery Channel, Phonak, and Prodir-Saunier Duval, returning from last year, are joined by Davitamon-Lotto, who will probably bring Chris Horner and Fast Freddy Rodriguez, and Quick Step-Innergetic could bring “American” Guido Trenti; we'll see about Bettini, Boonen, and Milan-San Remo winner Filippo Pozzato. Defending champ Tom Danielson of Discovery and Floyd Landis of Phonak are early commitments.

Medalist Sports expects Yaroslav Popovych, Trent Lowe (now with Discovery after winning best young rider at last year's race), and Viatcheslav Ekimov to also appear for Discovery Channel. Full rosters are still a couple of weeks away.

Two Pro Continental teams return: HealthNet-Maxxis and Navigators, and 7 UCI Continental teams fill out the field: Colavita-Sutter Home, Jelly Belly, Jittery Joe's-Zero Gravity, Kodakgallery.com-Sierra Nevada, Targetraining, Team TIAA-CREF, and Toyota-United.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 22, 2006 in Tom Danielson, Top Stories, Tour de Georgia | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 08, 2006

Tour de Georgia routes finalized

Macon Telegraph | Organizers reveal Tour de Georgia details

The Tour de Georgia is just over a month away, and rather than suffering from the addition of the Tour of California to the US racing schedule, my local chance to see the Euro-pros looks to be getting along great.

The Macon Telegraph reports Stage 1 is a near-clone of last year's opener from Augusta to Macon, and that Stage 1 will be accompanied by 2 criteriums (sorry, Latin teachers) in downtown Macon (such as it is).

Also, Discovery Channel has announced that not only will its team be there, with defending TdG champion Tom Danielson, but that they're helping sponsor the race, the first time they have. They'll be spotlighting a presentation called “The Race to Replace,” looking at how the team is trying to fill the void left by Lance Armstrong's retirement.

The Telegraph story says CSC and Phonak will definitely join Discovery on the start line, then lists individual riders they hope to sign, including Liberty Seguros' Alexandre Vinokourov and Quick Step's Tom Boonen.

On to a little wild-eyed speculation:

There is even a chance that Lance Armstrong, who retired after winning his seventh Tour de France last summer, may ride in the event. Chris Aronhalt, spokesman for Tour organizer Medalist Sports, said the Tour's ties to the Georgia Cancer Coalition may lure Armstrong back to the bike.

Here are PDFs with the route for each stage:
Stage 1 - Augusta to Macon
Stage 2 - Fayetteville to Rome
Stage 3 - Chickamauga to Chattanooga, TN
Stage 4 - Dalton to Dahlonega
Stage 5 - Blairsville to Brasstown Bald
Stage 6 - Cumming to Alpharetta

This is a great chance to get up close and personal with many of the world's best riders. Y'all come!

Here are my photo galleries from last year:

Stage 4
Stage 5
Stage 6

Posted by Frank Steele on March 8, 2006 in Alexandre Vinokourov, Lance Armstrong, Tom Boonen, Tom Danielson, Tour de Georgia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 18, 2006

Discovery in training camp; Ekimov healthy and strong

ThePaceLine.com | Solvang Camp: Day 1 (free reg. req.)

Discovery Channel's team leaders are already in camp in Solvang, with the balance expected tonight.

Hincapie, Danielson, Savoldelli, Ekimov, Popovych and others did some velodrome laps to improve their TT form.

Bruyneel says Ekimov has no residual problems from the bad back injury that kept him out of last year's Tour, and didn't really need the time on the velodrome:

Bruyneel also noted that even though last year was Eki’s first time in the wind tunnel ever, the Olympic TT champion was close to dead-on just through his own personal set up. And today bore that out once again; Eki did his first test with his old set up, then after trying a couple of tweaks here and there the numbers said it all – his best run was with his original set up and leave it alone.

Sammarye "Velogal" Lewis is on the scene, and trying an interesting experiment: She's audioblogging from Solvang. As usual, she's also got a training camp photo gallery up at SmugMug, including some shots of Michael and Dede Demet Barry's son, Liam.

Posted by Frank Steele on January 18, 2006 in George Hincapie, Paolo Savoldelli, Tom Danielson, Viatcheslav Ekimov | Permalink | Comments (0)

July 01, 2005

NY Times profiles Tom Danielson

nytimes.com | Searching for a Gear to Be Like Armstrong

Tom Danielson
Tom Danielson @ Tour de Georgia 2005

Andrew Hood offers a profile of Discovery Channel's Tom Danielson, not riding this year's Tour but likely to feature on the Disco Vuelta team.

Danielson, at 27, is almost certainly the best pure climber among American racers, and got some face time in the press when he won April's Tour de Georgia, largely on the strength of a win in Stage 6, finishing atop Brasstown Bald, the highest peak in Georgia.

It's great what people say, but the legs have to do the talking," Danielson said in a recent telephone interview. "You can have the engine to maybe win the Tour some day, but you've got to have the head and the work ethic to make it happen."

Posted by Frank Steele on July 1, 2005 in Rider profiles, Tom Danielson | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 25, 2005

6 days to go: Bruyneel on Armstrong's go for 7

VeloNews.com | The man behind the wheel: A VeloNews Q&A with Johan Bruyneel

VeloNews talks to Discovery Channel DS Johan Bruyneel about Discovery's Tour de France prep program and Lance Armstrong's fitness as he prepares to go for Tour win number 7.

VN: There was talk that he was a little behind in his form, was that true?

JB: It has taken longer to decide the plan. Normally we were in the first of December, we knew already what the calendar would be. This year we waited until the end of January. At the beginning he was definitely behind. He was not good at Paris-Nice, but when he got to the month of May and June, that doesn't count anymore. The training that he was doing; now it seems like it's like all the other years now.

Of course, it's not like Johan could even suggest Armstrong's fitness was anything different than the last 6 years.

Bruyneel also makes a pre-(pre-pre-)selection for the Discovery Vuelta squad, which he expects to be built around Azevedo, Beltran, Rubiera, Noval, and Danielson.

Posted by Frank Steele on June 25, 2005 in Lance Armstrong, Tom Danielson | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 14, 2005

Vande Velde won't make Tour start

VeloNews | Tuesday's EuroFile: Danielson back in the saddle; Rihs hopes Hamilton will be, too

Today's VeloNews EuroFile column notes that CSC's Christian Vande Velde is in Girona, recovering from his spring campaign, and will focus next on the Vuelta a España. Vande Velde rode both the Giro and the Dauphiné, which were almost back to back.

VeloNews also notes that Tom Danielson's next race will be the Tour of Austria July 4-10 (during the Tour). Danielson will face his first full grand tour at the 2005 Vuelta.

Finally, they talked to Andy Rihs about the Tyler Hamilton case. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Rihs believes in Hamilton's innocence, and thinks the Court of Arbitration for Sport is more likely to be fair:

"In my opinion, legally, they can't judge against him, knowing what I know, without being a political person, just looking at the legal side," Rihs said. "His verdict is very political in my opinion and CAS is more objective."

Posted by Frank Steele on June 14, 2005 in Christian Vande Velde, Tom Danielson, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink | Comments (0)

May 05, 2005

A look at Giro rosters

VeloNews | Tentative start list for 2005 Giro d'Italia

Time for the annual Gilberto Simoni drama-fest, as he and Cunego slug it out for the overall, and leadership of their own Lampre team, all over Italy. Time, of course, for the Giro d'Italia.

Of course, the last few Giros have also seen the emergence of Alessandro Petacchi, whose Fassa Bortolo blue train has placed him perfectly for so many sprint wins. Potentially adding to the sprint drama this year is T-Mobile's Erik Zabel, who believes that some of this year's stages will be hard enough to neutralize Petacchi, and give Zabel (and teammate Olaf Pollack) a shot at a stage win in a select group.

Over at CSC, Ivan Basso has said he's riding for the Giro-Tour double, and raring to go. CSC will be riding two Americans, Dave Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde, in Basso's support.

Discovery Channel will finally get a real look at new team member Paolo Savoldelli, who won the 2002 Giro, and has a reputation for finishing long tours strongly. Tony Cruz, Tom Danielson, Jason McCartney and Michael Barry are coming off April's Tour de Georgia.

The Daily Peloton has individual pieces on each squad, looking at who's got a shot at the overall, who will be fishing for stages, and who's just killing time.


Eurosport.com | The cream of Italy's crop

Posted by Frank Steele on May 5, 2005 in Alessandro Petacchi, Christian Vande Velde, Damiano Cunego, Dave Zabriskie, Erik Zabel, Gilberto Simoni, Giro d'Italia 2005, Ivan Basso, Tom Danielson | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 26, 2005

Lance Armstrong's last US racing miles

Lance Armstrong's last US racing miles
Originally uploaded by Frank Steele.
I put together a Flickr photo set of some shots my wife and I took from about 150 meters down the course from the start-finish in Alpharetta. These mostly made me wish we had a better camera; the ITT and Hog Pen Gap pictures both have the riders moving a lot slower, so they're a lot easier to shoot.

Velogal has a Stage 6 gallery up, that includes some touching pictures of Andrea Tafi taking a final bow while accepting the overall most aggressive rider jersey, in recognition of long breaks he animated during Stage 2 and Stage 6.

And the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a photo gallery of Stage 6.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 26, 2005 in Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong, Tom Danielson, Tour de Georgia | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

April 23, 2005

Other Stage 5 blog reports

Judging by the picture HE took, Josh Hallett was about 200 meters down the road from me (although I think I would remember if I had seen the guy in the background without a shirt -- brrrrrr!). There are more shots at Josh's photostream on Flickr.

Velogal was there, and got some pictures.

Dave Aiello was at the top, and got a great picture of Tom Danielson, Lance Armstrong, and Stage 5 most aggressive rider Christian Vande Velde at the post-race press conference (at right). He's got a running photo gallery covering the whole Tour, which you can also hit by clicking through the pic.

Michael at CoolBicycling.com also has a full Stage 5 report with lots of photos.

Not technically a blog, but the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has a good photo gallery for the stage, including this cool fisheye shot of Danielson and the crowd near the summit, and they sell reprints of anything on the site.

And here's my Stage 5 photoset ot Flickr.


cyclingnews.com | Tour de Georgia Stage 5 photo gallery

Posted by Frank Steele on April 23, 2005 in Christian Vande Velde, Lance Armstrong, Links, Photo galleries, Tom Danielson, Tour de Georgia | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

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.

procycling.com | Armstrong: "Danielson's something special"

ThePaceline.com (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

Tour de Georgia Stage 4: Dalton to Dahlonega

Today's stage is a near-repeat of last year's Stage 5, rolling from the carpet capital of the world to a Georgia gold-rush town set in the Appalachian foothills.

Last year, Jason McCartney, then riding for Health Net, put 53 seconds into the field on a stage with 19,000 feet of climbing and 5 King of the Mountains lines. VeloNews later named his stage the 2004 Ride of the Year, and it helped catapult McCartney onto Team Discovery Channel this year.

It's not a mountaintop finish, so the field will have 14 miles to regroup after the last climb of Woody Gap (the peloton climbs it twice today) near Suches.

The big question: Is Discovery riding for defending Tour de Georgia champion Lance Armstrong, who lost 1:46 to leader Floyd Landis yesterday, or do they try to break Tom Danielson, placed 42 seconds ahead of Armstrong, and get him some attention as the future of American cycling?

Also look for CSC and Phonak to fight it out, with CSC looking to place Bobby Julich and Dave Zabriskie, and Phonak trying to defend Floyd Landis' race lead. Meanwhile Levi Leipheimer sits 50 seconds back, about midway between Landis and Armstrong.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 22, 2005 in Bobby Julich, Dave Zabriskie, Floyd Landis, Lance Armstrong, Levi Leipheimer, Tom Danielson, Tour de Georgia | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 13, 2005

Discovery Georgia squad announced

team.discovery.com | Midweek Musings - Tour de Georgia Roster Announced

With all the injuries and illness on the Discovery Channel squad, it's been a little up in the air who would be in Augusta for the start of the Tour de Georgia. Dan Osipow lists the likelys in his latest column:

Lance Armstrong (2004 TdG overall champ)
Viatcheslav Ekimov
José Azevedo
José-Luis Rubiera
Antonio Cruz
Tom Danielson
Michael Barry
Jason McCartney (2004 TdG King of the Mountains)

This is a team that can climb with anybody. We'll see in a couple of months, but this looks like the core of the 2005 Discovery Tour squad, as well.

Missing will be George Hincapie, who lives just a bit up the road from Augusta in Greenville, S.C.

Posted by Frank Steele on April 13, 2005 in Lance Armstrong, Tom Danielson, Tour de Georgia, Viatcheslav Ekimov | Permalink | Comments (0)

March 18, 2005

Armstrong to ride Paris-Camembert

CyclingNews.com | Discovery to Paris-Camembert

Lance Armstrong will return to action at Paris-Camembert a week from Tuesday. Discovery's other riders will be Jason McCartney, Tom Danielson, José Azevedo, Jose-Luis Rubiera, Fumiyuki Beppu, and Jurgen Van Den Broeck.

Posted by Frank Steele on March 18, 2005 in Tom Danielson | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 22, 2004

Tom Danielson to join Discovery?

VeloNews | Wednesday's EuroFile: Danielson to Discovery? Ullrich heading to world's

VeloNews quotes Fassa Bortolo sources that US rider Tom Danielson, 26, has opted out of the second year of his contract with the Italian team.

Further, they expect Danielson to join Paolo Salvodelli and Yaroslav Popovych as new signings for the Discovery Channel team, the next incarnation of US Postal.

Posted by Frank Steele on September 22, 2004 in Paolo Savoldelli, Tom Danielson, Yaroslav Popovych | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 25, 2004

Next Tour winner not named Armstrong?

Yahoo! Sports | Observers looking to Armstrong's successor

Reuters takes a look at the young generation coming of age, and who might eventually win the Tour.

Obvious candidates are Andreas Klöden, 29, and Ivan Basso, 26, who rounded out the podium.


"My stage win was a clear sign of how I've improved and that I was as strong as Armstrong in the first two weeks of the Tour," said Basso.

"I'm only 26 and so I've got time on my side. I'll be able to ride at least eight more Tours and so there's a good chance I win at least one of them."

Reuters identifies Voeckler and Sandy Casar as the great French hopes of the moment.

Of Russia's white jersey Vladimir Karpets:

Very shy off the bike, Karpets transforms into a powerful all round rider who can climb, time trial and look after himself in the flat stages that are often affected by wind and rain.

This year he was 13th overall, more than 25 minutes behind Armstrong but as he matures and improves he will surely move up in the overall standings, perhaps becoming the first Russian rider to win the Tour.

And not even at the Tour this year were Giro d'Italia winner Damiano Cuñego of Saeco and Alejandro Valverde of CV-Kelme.

Another interesting question is "who will replace Armstrong as the outstanding American rider?"

Most Americans in the peloton are within a couple of years of Armstrong's 32, and so on the downhill side of the athletic curve. Leipheimer is 30, Vande Velde and Landis 28, Julich 32, and Hincapie 31.

One candidate is 26-year-old Tom Danielson, currently riding for Fassa Bortolo, but left off their Tour squad. He just took 4:10 off Mike Engleman's 12-year-old record in the Mt. Evans Hill Climb, and is prepping for the Vuelta a España.


BBC Sport | The Tour's stars of the future

I feel stupid for forgetting Michael Rogers of Quick Step, who had a disappointing Tour at 22nd overall. He demonstrated his time trialing prowess taking 2nd (soon to be 1st) to David Millar at last year's TT world championship.

Rogers, writing for BBC Sport, also tips Benjamin Noval of USPS as a rider to watch.

Posted by Frank Steele on July 25, 2004 in About the Tour, Tom Danielson | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 22, 2003

Americans in Paris?

VeloNews | Americans deliver more than Postal to Euro' peloton

VeloNews offers up a preview of Americans racing in the 2004 European peloton, including team leaders Lance Armstrong of US Postal, Tyler Freaking Hamilton, now with Phonak, and Levi Leipheimer of Rabobank.

Newcomers to the Euro scene include Tom Danielson and Tim Johnson, formerly of Saturn, and possibly David Clinger, who raced for Prime Alliance in 2003, after stints with Festina and US Postal.

Posted by Frank Steele on December 22, 2003 in Rider profiles, Tom Danielson | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack