By Kirsten Robbins
Stage four of the Tour de Georgia started in the city of Dalton, the hometown of Credit Agricole's Saul Raisin. Raisin, who crashed at the Circuit De La Sarthe. "He will be arriving back to an Atlanta hospital within the next ten days," said venue director Kelly Greene. The fans and the riders of today's stage wore green ribbons and a piece of green bar tape on the bikes to show their support for Raisin's healthy recovery.
The twenty-three year-old cyclist suffered from a severe brain hemorrhage after his crash. He was medically induced into a coma to help speed up his recovery from his head injury.
"It was the city of Dalton and the local high school who came up with the idea to hand out green ribbons, the color of Credit Agricole, at the start of the race today," said Greene. "The riders wanted to support their fellow cyclist by wrapping a piece of green tape on their handle bars for today's stage. They also made a get well soon card for Saul and have been walking around collecting signatures from all of Saul to send to his parents after today's stage."
"We delivered pieces of green tape to the riders so that they could show their support for Saul by wrapping it around their handle bars today," said Green. "Of course all of us here at the Tour are constantly thinking about Saul and he is in our thoughts and prayers."
Saul Raisin grew up in the city of Dalton and many of his friends and family were at the start of stage four. "Saul is from Dalton and he has a lot of support here," said Kodak Sierra Nevada directeur sportif Robin Zellner. "When he had the best young rider jersey here last year had so many fans here to support him the streets we full in Dalton because of Saul."
Saul was a member of Zellner's team, Ofoto-Lombardi Sports, in 2003. "He was always a very good time trialist and that is why we originally hired him for Ofoto because he was so strong," said Zellner. "He gained the best young rider's jersey in the time trial [here] and he held on to it, where he really proved his strength. He did very well here and he just continued progressing. That is what made the difference between Saul and the rest of the younger riders."
Raisin went on to race for the under 23 U.S. mational team in Europe where he was quickly noticed by Credit Agricole. "Not only is Saul an incredible athlete but he is also an incredible person," said Greene. "He has always been very humble and willing to work with the Tour and media. He is just a great kid the salt of the earth. He has always been a pleasure to work with and we are all looking forward to his safe return home."