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Notes from the road: Georgia leftovers

Feel like I finally earned my stripes last week. Not because I finally got to cover a U.S. stage race the magnitude of the Tour de Georgia (the Coors Classic and Tour DuPont were a little before my time). No, I’m talkin’ about finally eating at a Waffle House. Having spent the first 22 years of my life in California, I had a valid excuse for a while, but after my extensive American travels - and living within 20 miles of a Waffle House here in Colorado - that excuse was wearing pretty thin. So, it was with great delight that on the third day of the Tour de Georgia, my roommates and I made

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By Bryan Jew, VeloNews assistant managing editor

Feel like I finally earned my stripes last week. Not because I finally got to cover a U.S. stage race the magnitude of the Tour de Georgia (the Coors Classic and Tour DuPont were a little before my time). No, I’m talkin’ about finally eating at a Waffle House.

Having spent the first 22 years of my life in California, I had a valid excuse for a while, but after my extensive American travels – and living within 20 miles of a Waffle House here in Colorado – that excuse was wearing pretty thin. So, it was with great delight that on the third day of the Tour de Georgia, my roommates and I made the three-block walk from our hotel to the neighborhood Waffle House in Macon, Georgia.

And it was as if a whole new world opened up to me. For instance, I had no idea that Waffle House is the “world’s leading server of T-bone steaks.” It said so right up there on the wall. When I returned home and checked the Waffle House Web site, I also discovered that it is the world’s leading server of waffles, omelets, cheese ’n eggs, USDA Choice hamburgers, country ham, pork chops, grits, hash browns, patty melts, raisin toast, apple butter and Heinz Traditional Steak Sauce. Now, I’m not sure what “world’s leading server” even means, but that’s still a pretty mouth-watering list.

So, a whole new dining option has surfaced for me as I hit the road this year. I gotta admit, though, nothing still compares to going home to L.A. and hitting the Roscoe’s a mile from my parents’ house. I’ll take a Herb’s Special, No. 4.

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The other “first” for me last week was my first visit to Athens and the Twilight Criterium. After years hearing about it, and yes, even writing about it, I finally got to see the Twilight in person, and I’ve got to report it’s everything it’s cracked up to be. Some long-timers told me that this year’s crowd was “a little thin,” but you were still hard-pressed to find any space along the barriers on 90 percent of the course. As for atmosphere, well, let’s just say Larry Eustachy would have felt right at home.

It’s a shame some of the big men’s teams at Tour de Georgia as well as the Saturn and T-Mobile women’s teams didn’t send any riders to Athens. Don’t you think some of those sponsors would have liked the exposure in front of several thousand festive college-age consumers? Tell you this much: If there were a dozen events around the country like Twilight, I’ll bet you Coors Light might still be sponsoring a cycling team.

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Since this week’s column is all about fun and games in Georgia, I’ve got to make a quick comment on Chris Horner: Love him or hate him, the guy is good for the sport. I know some people were turned off by his comments about Navigators during the TdG, but at least it got people talking. It’s great to see someone stirring up some passions and giving people a reason to cheer, for or against him.

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The injury report: Saturn assistant general manager Giana Roberge says that Charles Dionne was not seriously hurt in his crash on the final day of the Tour de Georgia in Atlanta. “Charles is fine,” she said. “A lot of road rash, but luckily the old injuries from [his crash at Tour de Langkawi] were untouched.”

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Because I knew it would be taken completely out of context, I didn’t include in my race report some of Navigators team director Ed Beamon’s comments in response to Horner at the Tour de Georgia. But since I obviously don’t give much thought to what ends up in this column, I’ll give a quick outtake.

After Horner had blasted the Navigators for not taking the front on stage 3 of the race, I asked Beamon to comment on his team’s tactics. “We had no tactics today,” he slowly deadpanned. “We really don’t read a race very well. All that time we spent in Europe made us kind of stupid.”

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Are the NBA playoffs out of the first round yet? Seems like this thing’s been going on for a month. At this rate, we should have a champion about the same time Lance gets on the podium in Paris.

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What to watch for:

A couple of races that Saturn maybe won’t win take place down South this weekend, the Shelby Criterium in North Carolina and the Roswell Criterium in Georgia.