Events

Game over? 13-man break shakes up Tour de Georgia

[nid:38252]Janez Brajkovic wasn’t even supposed to be at the Tour de Georgia. Originally the lithe Slovenian climber was slotted to race Pays Basque for Discovery Channel, while Tour de France veteran Jose Rubiera was coming to America.

By Jason Sumner, VeloNews.com

Georgia's on his mind

Georgia’s on his mind

Photo: Tim Schamber

Meersman collects his first pro win

Meersman collects his first pro win

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Janez Brajkovic wasn’t even supposed to be at the Tour de Georgia. Originally the lithe Slovenian climber was slotted to race Pays Basque for Discovery Channel, while Tour de France veteran Jose Rubiera was coming to America.

But the 23-year-old got sick in early April, forcing a quick change in plans. Rubiera stayed in Europe to contest the Spanish stage race, with Brajkovic taking the trans-Atlantic flight to the Peach State. Now, following one of the strangest days in recent U.S. cycling history, a recovered Brajkovic is among the favorites to win the seven-day race around Georgia.

Meanwhile, teammate Gianni Meersman scored the first victory of his young career, continuing Discovery’s assault on the early portions of the 2007 racing season, and Spaniard David Gracia Cañada (Saunier Duval-Prodir) took over the race lead, snatching the yellow jersey from stage 1 winner Daniele Contrini (Tinkoff Credit Systems).

Full results

Brajkovic, Meersman and Cañada were all part of a 13-rider breakaway that rolled off the front of the peloton early in the 118.2-mile run from Rome to Chattanooga — and never came back. The final time gap was a whopping 29:07, effectively eliminating the rest of the 114-rider field from overall GC contention.

“This was my lucky day,” admitted Brajkovic, who spent time in the leader’s jersey at last year’s Vuelta a España. “Coming to this race was coincidence. I was sick before the race for nine days with a fever and I didn’t train much. I didn’t know what condition I would be. At the start [of the breakaway] I was a little worried because the gap kept growing and we have two very strong guys that are capable of winning the race. But now I am confident that I can do a good result in the time trial and on Brasstown.”

Cañada and Brajkovic were second and third on the stage that was won in 4:33:18 on a warm, sunny day in northern Georgia and southern Tennessee. Others to make the decisive selection included Americans Christian Vande Velde (CSC), Tim Johnson and Jeff Louder (both Health Net-Maxxis), Kevin Seeldrayers (Quick Step-Innergetic), Scott Nydam (BMC), Rubens Bertogliati (Saunier Duval-Prodir), Lucas Euser (Slipstream-Chipotle), Ivan Santaromita (Quick Step), Tyler Wren (Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home) and Ciaran Power (Navigators Insurance).

Brajkovic leads the break

Brajkovic leads the break

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

For the rest of the field it was a day of what-if’s and why’s. When the break — which started with 16 riders — rolled off in the opening hour of the race, no one expected it to stay away. Initially the gap hung around a minute, before coming all the way down to 30 seconds primarily because of the work of Predictor-Lotto, one of several teams that missed out. But the Belgian squad didn’t get much help, and with a motivated group working hard in front of them, the chase was soon shut down.

From there the gap shot up quickly. It was just 45 seconds 33 miles in, but all the way to 2:50 at 38.8 miles. Less than 20 miles later it was 9:30 and the writing was on the wall. Out the door was all the talk of Discovery’s Tom Danielson repeating his 2005 win here. Forgotten was any chance of seeing Tyler Hamilton (Tinkoff) make a dramatic return to U.S. racing.

“Certain things happen that you cannot foresee,” admitted Discovery director Johann Bruyneel. “Our mission was to be represented in all breaks that go up the road. The break was good for us so we let it go. There were other teams with nobody there or not the guys they wanted up there. We had Brajkovic who was one of three protected riders in this race.

“Sure, Tom will be disappointed but that’s the way the race goes. If you have a breakaway and you have two guys in there, and the rest of the teams decide they don’t want to win the race, that’s too bad. They are the losers.”

Among those who missed the break was Toyota-United. The U.S. domestic team earned a stage win a day earlier with Ivan Stevic in Rome, but were caught out on this day.

Johnson taking his pulls

Johnson taking his pulls

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

“We had a standing order to cover moves of this size, but after all the work we did the last two days there were very few left who could have gotten up there,” said team director Harm Jansen. “Today was not a standard development, but it’s bike racing. I don’t think we made any mistakes today. It allows us and a lot of others to give it a shot on Brasstown. That’s going to be an interesting stage because we now have five riders that could go up that climb well, and may get the freedom because the GC teams won’t be worrying about them.”

Others missing from the final break included Contrini’s Tinkoff team, Priority Health-Bissell, Jittery Joe’s and the U.S. national team.

“It was a pretty strange day,” said Health Net director Jeff Corbett. “It’s not often that you see that. But most of the teams were represented in the break, and the few that weren’t just didn’t want to play I guess.”

Louder rips a descent

Louder rips a descent

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

After working well together for much of the stage, which included four rated climbs (a pair of 4s and two 3s) the breakaway group’s members finally started attacking each other on the day’s final ascent, the cat. 3 Burkhalter Gap.

“Lotto was chasing hard and I thought it was going to be over,” recalled Louder. “But the whole group worked all day. Yeah, they didn’t chase us after a while, but the reason the gap went so big was because the whole group worked together and no one skipped turns. Everyone was coming through real even. There was no game-playing until the very end.”

Those games started when Santaromita and Bertogliata attacked on the final ascent. They quickly got a 15-second gap, but it was short-lived. Meersman, Cañada, Vande Velde, Louder, Brajkovic, Seeldraeyers and Nydam all bridged across and then the end game began in the final 5km, on the run into Chattanooga.

“There was some game-playing and no one wanted to commit,” said Louder. “Vande Velde was doing hard work. Janez was working and Meersman was helping. It was just everyone working well together. Then we caught the two that were away and it all fanned out. I took off with 5k and got a decent gap. I was hoping they’d let it go but I got caught on the overpass with about 3k to go. At about 150 meters Meersman came by me and that was it.”

That was also it for most of the field, which spent the afternoon in Sunday drive mode, and will now be left to contest stage wins, the GC long gone in the distance.

Race notes
Navigators’ Power crashed hard on the descent into Chattanooga and was taken the hospital for a CAT scan after the finish. “He didn’t know where he was,” said Navigators team director Ed Beamon. “I think he’s going to be fine, but it’s just precautionary… Discovery Channel’s Jason McCartney remains in a hospital in Atlanta undergoing tests. A team staffer said that he has been having severe headaches and that doctors have done two lumbar punctures attempting to find out what the issue is. One possibility is viral meningitis, but doctors remain unsure. McCartney’s wife is flying in tonight to be with him.

Tour de Georgia — stage 3
1. Gianni Meersman, Discovery Channel, 4:33:18
2. David Canada Gracia, Saunier Duval, 4:33:19
3. Janez Brajkovic, Discovery Channel, 4:33:19
4. Christian Vande Velde, Team CSC, 4:33:19
5. Kevin Seeldraeyers, Quick Step-Innergetic, 4:33:19
6. Jeff Louder, Health Net Maxxis, 4:33:19
7. Scott Nydam, BMC, 4:33:19
8. Rubens Bertogliati, Saunier Duval, 4:33:19
9. Timothy Johnson, Health Net Maxxis, 4:35:38
10. Lucas Euser, Team Slipstream, 4:35:38Overall
1. David Canada Gracia, Saunier Duval, 13:34:21
2. Rubens Bertogliati, Saunier Duval, 13:34:24
3. Christian Vande Velde, Team CSC, 13:34:24
4. Janez Brajkovic, Discovery Channel, 13:24:24
5. Jeff Louder, Health Net Maxxis, 13:34:24
6. Kevin Seeldraeyers, Quick Step-Innergetic, 13:34:24
7. Scott Nydam, BMC, 13:34:44
8. Lucas Euser, Team Slipstream, 13:36:43
9. Timothy Johnson, Health Net Maxxis, 13:37:12
10. Tyler Wren, Colavita-Sutter Home, 13:38:18

Full results

To see how today’s stage developed, simply click here to open our Live Update Window.

Photo Gallery

Results

Results
1. Gianni Meersman (B), Discovery Channel, 190.3km in 4:33:18 (41.778kph)

2. David Canada Gracia (Sp), Saunier Duval, at 0:01

3. Janez Brajkovic (SLO), Discovery Channel

4. Christian Vande Velde (USA), CSC

5. Kevin Seeldraeyers (B), Quick Step-Innergetic

6. Jeff Louder (USA), Health Net Maxxis

7. Scott Nydam (USA), BMC

8. Rubens Bertogliati (Swi), Saunier Duval, all same time

9. Timothy Johnson (USA), Health Net Maxxis, at 2:20

10. Lucas Euser (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

11. Ivan Santaromita (Swi), Quick Step-Innergetic, at 3:35

12. Tyler Wren (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

13. Ciaran Power (IRL), Navigators Insurance, at 5:05

14. Nicholas Reistad (USA), U-23 National Team, at 29:07

15. Chad Beyer (USA), U-23 National Team

16. Thomas Danielson (USA), Discovery Channel

17. Charles Dionne (CAN), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

18. John Devine (USA), U-23 National Team

19. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Discovery Channel

20. Fred Rodriguez (USA), Predictor-Lotto

21. Jacob Rosenbarger (USA), BMC

22. Steffen Weigold (G), Tinkoff Credit Systems

23. Cameron Wurf (Aus), Priority Health-Bissell

24. Gilberto Simoni (I), Saunier Duval

25. Jonathan Garcia (USA), BMC

26. Tyler Hamilton (USA), Tinkoff Credit Systems

27. Craig Lewis (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

28. Emile Abraham (TRI), Priority Health-Bissell

29. Geert Steurs (B), Predictor-Lotto

30. Sheldon Deeny (USA), U-23 National Team

31. Christophe Brandt (B), Predictor-Lotto

32. Evan Elken (USA), Jittery Joe's Coffee

33. Benjamin (USA), Priority Health-Bissell

34. Brian Vandborg (Dk), Discovery Channel

35. Eric Riggs (USA), U-23 National Team

36. Richard England (Aus), Priority Health-Bissell

37. Edward King (USA), Priority Health-Bissell

38. Christophe Rinero (F), Saunier Duval

39. Pavel Brutt (Rus), Tinkoff Credit Systems

40. Ben Day (Aus), Navigators Insurance

41. David Mccann (IRL), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

42. Cody Stevenson (Aus), Jittery Joe's Coffee

43. Asle Kurt Asle (Nor), CSC

44. Leonardo Scarselli (I), Quick Step-Innergetic

45. Douglas Ollerenshaw (USA), Health Net Maxxis

46. Ian Mckissick (USA), BMC

47. Philip Zajicek (USA), Navigators Insurance

48. Scott Moninger (USA), BMC

49. Jackson Stewart (USA), BMC

50. Michael Blaudzun (Dk), CSC

51. Tommy Nankervis (Aus), Jittery Joe's Coffee

52. Hubert Schwab (Swi), Quick Step-Innergetic

53. Neil Shirley (USA), Jittery Joe's Coffee

54. Valeriy Kobzarenko (Ukr), Navigators Insurance

55. Cesar Grajales (Col), Jittery Joe's Coffee

56. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN), Health Net Maxxis

57. David Zabriskie (USA), CSC

58. Anders Lund (Dk), CSC

59. Nathan O'Neill (Aus), Health Net Maxxis

60. Matthew Goss (Aus), CSC

61. Ivan Stevic (SCG), TUT

62. Maarten Wijnants (B), Quick Step-Innergetic

63. George Hincapie (USA), Discovery Channel

64. Omer Kem (USA), Priority Health-Bissell

65. Daniele Contrini (I), Tinkoff Credit Systems

66. Peter Hatton (Aus), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

67. Olivier Kaisen (B), Predictor-Lotto

68. Danny Pate (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

69. Dominique Cornu (B), Predictor-Lotto

70. Guido Trentin (I), Saunier Duval

71. Pavel Padrnos (Cz), Discovery Channel

72. Ben Brooks (Aus), Navigators Insurance

73. Ivan Dominguez (CUB), TUT

74. Davide Frattini (I), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

75. Rory Sutherland (Aus), Health Net Maxxis

76. Jonathan Mc Carty (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

77. Martin Pedersen (Dk), CSC

78. Timothy Duggan (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

79. Sergey Lagutin (UZB), Navigators Insurance

80. Viktar Rapinski (Blr), Navigators Insurance

81. Adam Bergman (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

82. Stefano Zanini (I), Predictor-Lotto

83. Michael Lange (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

84. Jason Donald (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

85. Eric Keim (USA), U-23 National Team

86. Brian Dziewa (USA), U-23 National Team

87. Thomas Peterson (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

88. Karl Menzies (Aus), Health Net Maxxis

89. David Millar (GB), Saunier Duval

90. Scott Zwizanski (USA), Priority Health-Bissell

91. Alessandro Proni (I), Quick Step-Innergetic

92. Alexandre Moos (Swi), BMC

93. Anthony Colby (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

94. Gustavo Artacho (ARG), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

95. Juan José Haedo (ARG), CSC

96. Elia Aggiano (I), Tinkoff Credit Systems

97. Justin England (USA), TUT

98. Garrett Peltonen (USA), Priority Health-Bissell

99. Caleb Manion (Aus), TUT

100. Glen Chadwick (NZl), Navigators Insurance

101. Christopher Wherry (USA), TUT

102. Andrea Tonti (I), Quick Step-Innergetic

103. Ruggero Marzoli (I), Tinkoff Credit Systems

104. Mauro Facci (I), Quick Step-Innergetic

105. Caleb Fairly (USA), U-23 National Team

106. Austin King (USA), Jittery Joe's Coffee

107. Trent Wilson (Aus), Jittery Joe's Coffee

108. Preben Van Hecke (B), Predictor-Lotto

109. Nicolas Gates (Aus), Predictor-Lotto

110. Hendricus Vogels (Aus), TUT

111. Matt Shriver (USA), Jittery Joe's Coffee

112. Burke Swindlehurst T (USA), TUT

113. Kirk O'Bee (USA), Health Net Maxxis

114. Christopher Baldwin (USA), TUT, all s.t.

Overall Standings, after Stage 3
1. David Canada Gracia (Sp), Saunier Duval

2. Rubens Bertogliati (Swi), Saunier Duval, 0:03

3. Christian Vande Velde (USA), CSC

4. Janez Brajkovic (SLO), Discovery Channel

5. Jeff Louder (USA), Health Net Maxxis

6. Kevin Seeldraeyers (B), Quick Step-Innergetic

7. Scott Nydam (USA), BMC, 0:23

8. Lucas Euser (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle, 2:22

9. Timothy Johnson (USA), Health Net Maxxis, 2:51

10. Tyler Wren (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 3:57

11. Ivan Santaromita (Swi), Quick Step-Innergetic

12. Ciaran Power (IRL), Navigators Insurance, 5:23

13. Gianni Meersman (B), Discovery Channel, 6:31

14. Daniele Contrini (I), Tinkoff Credit Systems, 27:47

15. Douglas Ollerenshaw (USA), Health Net Maxxis, 28:16

16. Ben Day (Aus), Navigators Insurance, 28:25

17. Ivan Stevic (SCG), TUT, 28:54

18. Haedo Juan José (ARG), CSC, 29:00

19. Fred Rodriguez (USA), Predictor-Lotto, 29:02

20. Charles Dionne (CAN), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 29:06

21. Levi Leipheimer (USA), Discovery Channel

22. Thomas Danielson (USA), Discovery Channel

23. Ryder Hesjedal (CAN), Health Net Maxxis

24. David Zabriskie (USA), CSC

25. George Hincapie (USA), Discovery Channel

26. Rory Sutherland (Aus), Health Net Maxxis

27. Sergey Lagutin (UZB), Navigators Insurance

28. Jason Donald (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

29. Alessandro Proni (I), Quick Step-Innergetic

30. Emile Abraham (TRI), Priority Health-Bissell, 29:07

31. Andrea Tonti (I), Quick Step-Innergetic, 29:08

32. John Devine (USA), U-23 National Team, 29:09

33. Gilberto Simoni (I), Saunier Duval

34. Christophe Brandt (B), Predictor-Lotto

35. Tyler Hamilton (USA), Tinkoff Credit Systems

36. Geert Steurs (B), Predictor-Lotto

37. Hubert Schwab (Swi), Quick Step-Innergetic

38. Craig Lewis (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

39. Cesar Grajales (Col), Jittery Joe's Coffee

40. Nathan O'Neill (Aus), Health Net Maxxis

41. Christophe Rinero (F), Saunier Duval

42. Leonardo Scarselli (I), Quick Step-Innergetic

43. Sheldon Deeny (USA), U-23 National Team

44. Edward King (USA), Priority Health-Bissell

45. Michael Blaudzun (Dk), CSC

46. Valeriy Kobzarenko (Ukr), Navigators Insurance

47. Danny Pate (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

48. Pavel Brutt (Rus), Tinkoff Credit Systems

49. Philip Zajicek (USA), Navigators Insurance

50. Scott Moninger (USA), BMC

51. Dominique Cornu (B), Predictor-Lotto

52. Maarten Wijnants (B), Quick Step-Innergetic

53. Peter Hatton (Aus), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

54. David Mccann (IRL), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

55. David Millar (GB), Saunier Duval

56. Anthony Colby (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

57. Tommy Nankervis (Aus), Jittery Joe's Coffee

58. Thomas Peterson (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

59. Neil Shirley (USA), Jittery Joe's Coffee

60. Guido Trentin (I), Saunier Duval

61. Jonathan Mc Carty (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

62. Alexandre Moos (Swi), BMC

63. Ben Brooks (Aus), Navigators Insurance

64. Preben Van Hecke (B), Predictor-Lotto

65. Karl Menzies (Aus), Health Net Maxxis

66. Trent Wilson (Aus), Jittery Joe's Coffee

67. Ian Mckissick (USA), BMC

68. Ruggero Marzoli (I), Tinkoff Credit Systems

69. Justin England (USA), Toyota United

70. Christopher Baldwin (USA), Toyota United

71. Jonathan Garcia (USA), BMC, 29:29

72. Brian Vandborg (Dk), Discovery Channel

73. Pavel Padrnos (Cz), Discovery Channel

74. Timothy Duggan (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

75. Gustavo Artacho (ARG), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

76. Hendricus Vogels (Aus), Toyota United

77. Jacob Rosenbarger (USA), BMC, 29:38

78. Olivier Kaisen (B), Predictor-Lotto

79. Benjamin (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, 29:48

80. Michael Lange (USA), Slipstream-Chipotle

81. Jackson Stewart (USA), BMC, 29:51

82. Matthew Goss (Aus), CSC

83. Nicolas Gates (Aus), Predictor-Lotto

84. Caleb Manion (Aus), Toyota United, 29:56

85. Ivan Dominguez (CUB), Toyota United, 29:58

86. Davide Frattini (I), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home

87. Kirk O'Bee (USA), Health Net Maxxis

88. Cody Stevenson (Aus), Jittery Joe's Coffee, 30:18

89. Chad Beyer (USA), U-23 National Team, 30:20

90. Eric Keim (USA), U-23 National Team, 30:47

91. Viktar Rapinski (Blr), Navigators Insurance, 31:02

92. Eric Riggs (USA), U-23 National Team, 31:55

93. Glen Chadwick (NZl), Navigators Insurance, 32:18

94. Steffen Weigold (G), Tinkoff Credit Systems, 32:24

95. Asle Kurt Asle (Nor), CSC

96. Mauro Facci (I), Quick Step-Innergetic

97. Anders Lund (Dk), CSC, 32:34

98. Martin Pedersen (Dk), CSC

99. Christopher Wherry (USA), Toyota United

100. Burke Swindlehurst T (USA), Toyota United

101. Matt Shriver (USA), Jittery Joe's Coffee, 33:18

102. Adam Bergman (USA), Colavita Olive Oil-Sutter Home, 33:37

103. Evan Elken (USA), Jittery Joe's Coffee, 33:40

104. Cameron Wurf (Aus), Priority Health-Bissell, 34:11

105. Austin King (USA), Jittery Joe's Coffee, 35:07

106. Elia Aggiano (I), Tinkoff Credit Systems, 35:10

107. Scott Zwizanski (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, 35:37

108. Brian Dziewa (USA), U-23 National Team, 35:43

109. Richard England (Aus), Priority Health-Bissell, 37:21

110. Nicholas Reistad (USA), U-23 National Team, 37:27

111. Omer Kem (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, 38:07

112. Caleb Fairly (USA), U-23 National Team

113. Stefano Zanini (I), Predictor-Lotto, 39:47

114. Garrett Peltonen (USA), Priority Health-Bissell, 41:01