April 28, 2008
Stage 5 – Suwanee to Dahlonega 215 kilometres
Longest day of the tour, three KOMs – the first coming at kilometre 100 kilometres and the last only two kilometres from the finish! Needless to say it was on like Donkey Kong! 48 kilometres were clocked up in the first hour. It wasn't till about 60 kilometres into the stage before a break was finally let go. Type 1 was represented in it with Kobza. The legs were still working overtime but as the stage wore on I could feel them getting better.
The descent off the first KOM was pretty rapid, with a max speed of 102km/h on the clock – there wasn't a hell of a lot of room for error! The speed had slowed down a bit just in time for a snake to scatter the bunch, not sure what type it was but I'm gonna say a Rattle snake (sounds cooler!) After the stage Ed said 'Did ya see that big dead snake?' I told him that it was very alive when we crossed paths, but nothing out of the ordinary after training in Australia for a number of years.
But back to the stage, the break maxed out at 11 minutes before some squads started to bring it back. It wasn't too bad in the field but a bit boring just sitting on a wheel eating and drinking. We cruised over the second KOM and the pace finally started to pick up as we neared the final one, only two kilometres from home. The break was just up the road now and as the smack was laid down by Moises on the final climb it was caught over the top. I had managed to hold onto the second small group over the climb but came in a bit too hot into a left hand corner, coming into the finish; cooked it and ended up about 25 seconds from eventual winner Richard England from the Bissel squad. Moises picked up another top ten for us, finishing seventh.
Stage 6 – Blairsville to Brasstown Bald 142 kilometres
The Queen stage was finally upon us and even though we weren't greeted with the three climbs till the final 50 kilometres – and of course the mother of all nasty climbs at the finish – that didn't stop guys from attempting to get away for a good head start. Eventually a break formed after 40 kilometres, but there were a couple of threats up there so Slipstream pretty much set a good tempo all day to keep them in check.
We hit the only Cat 1 climb of the tour (Brass Town is an HC) and attacks started right at the bottom. Over the top the field was down to about 40, with five of us represented up there. Not bad odds, hey? As the pace was on, there wasn't much to do after that once again, except drink, eat and save the legs for the final ascent.
As far as climbs go, Brass Town is one of the nastiest I have ever had to race up! The climb is only five kilometres long, with an average gradient of 18% but with a couple of sections at 25%; hence the reason we were all running compact cranks, with a 50 and 34 chainrings on the front and an 11-26 cassette on the back.
Before we had even gotten to the climb there were some long drags with some steep sections in them. Astana started to pick up the tempo before we even made the right turn onto the climb. As I learnt from last year on the climb it's better to pace yourself and find a comfy rhythm and not to try and kill yourself to stay with the big boyz. That was the case again, I slowly caught riders one by one and as we hit the 25% sections I just tried to stay on top of the 26 and pulled away from the small group I was climbing with.
The rest of the squad were all climbing well also. By the top Moises had crossed the line in sixth, I managed one spot better than last year with 10th, Chris was 15th and Kobza 17th. A great day for the team to say the least! We had also moved the team into third overall in the teams classement. The only bad thing to come out of the stage was Matty being taken out in the gruppetto. He broke his bike and ripped his cleat clean off his shoe and was unable to finish the stage. But he didn't hurt himself, so not so bad in the end. The legs seem finally to be coming good and like I said just in time for the Wind Tunnel!
Stage 7 – Atlanta Circuit race 101 kilometres
1O laps left in the 2008 Tour de Georgia and unfortunately I was having flash backs of the previous year, as the circuit was pretty much the same – only there was water all over it this time around! Yes, that's right. It finally rained here! We lined up for one more national anthem, which was played out with an electric guitar, pretty cool version.
Luckily, the course started to dry out halfway into the stage. Chris managed to get himself into the only break of the day which started off as a group of 15, but slowly dwindled down as guys were either crashing out or getting punctures. Also, in the peloton there were a crazy amount of punctures. Chris ended up getting a flat as well and lost contact with the break, which he was a bit bummed about but as it was reeled in four kilometres from the finish line he felt a bit better. High Road once again had a great day, setting tempo all day for their yellow jersey leader and Greg Henderson took the win once again, to finish off their tour in style.
So that was Team Type 1's first big US tour and we raced it in great style; third in the teams classification (best placed domestic squad), four guys finishing in the top 20 overall (best placed was Moises at eighth) and three top tens through out the stages.
A special shout goes to the Gigantrum Tom Zirbel, who ripped off his left 180mm Sram Rival crank arm half way through the stage. He said that he's not allowed carbon cranks and now I know why! I think I'll start calling him the Zirbelnator!
Anyways, ya'll. I'll be outta here! I'm off to North Carolina to the A2 Wind Tunnel to get me some fastness!
Ya'll come back now ya hear!
Till next time,