Road

Morning-of thoughts on — and cassettes for — Georgia’s decisive climb

At the Tour de Georgia, mechanics spent the night before Saturday’s decisive Brasstown Bald stage switching cassettes on wheels. In place of 10-speed units with a 21, 23 or 25 as the lowest gear, riders’ rear wheels for today have 26, 27 and even 28 teeth. Unfortunately for most riders, adding that metaphoric “extra gear” isn’t quite so easy — either you have it or you don’t to make it up Brasstown near the front. [nid:75387]

By Ben Delaney

Horner's brasstown bike

Horner’s brasstown bike

Photo: Ben Delaney

At the Tour de Georgia, mechanics spent the night before Saturday’s decisive Brasstown Bald stage switching cassettes on wheels. In place of 10-speed units with a 21, 23 or 25 as the lowest gear, riders’ rear wheels for today have 26, 27 and even 28 teeth. Unfortunately for most riders, adding that metaphoric “extra gear” isn’t quite so easy — either you have it or you don’t to make it up Brasstown near the front.

Danielson's cassette and PowerTap hub

Danielson’s cassette and PowerTap hub

Photo: Ben Delaney

Astana’s Chris Horner currently sits in fifth overall, sandwiched between teammates Levi Leipheimer and Antonio Colom. After creating a good position for itself with the team time trial in stage 4, Astana rode the front of the field yesterday to keep a four-man breakaway under control.

“Yesterday the legs felt good, strong,” Horner said. “All the other [Astana] guys were doing work, so it was normal numbers for me. Colom, Levi and myself were tucked in the group. If Colom and I had had to ride yesterday at the end, we would have, but there wasn’t any reason to do more work. Once we got to 1:35, we were happy to let the break win the race if that was the case.”

Horner's cassette

Horner’s cassette

Photo: Ben Delaney

Horner, Leipheimer and Colom are only 4 seconds down on GC, behind Slipstream-Chipotle’s Trent Lowe, Dave Zabriskie and Christian Vande Velde, respectively.

Horner is riding a 28-cog cassette for the day.

“Brasstown is super steep, as steep as they come,” Horner said. “You can’t get them any steeper. We’re riding 28s [12-28 cassettes] up it. There aren’t many races where you need to ride 28s. At Pais Vasco we ran a 28, and that was a 2km climb instead of a 5km climb. You can find some stuff in Europe as steep, but you can’t find anything steeper.”

Slipstream-Chipotle’s Tom Danielson is riding a SRAM Red 11-27 cassette, with the distinctive back side covered up with black ink. He has a 38-tooth small ring. Danielson lost 17 seconds on stage 5 after he dropped his chain on the day’s final KOM that came just 2km from the finish.

Danielson Saturday morning

Danielson Saturday morning

Photo: Ben Delaney

“I started the hill in my small ring, then we sped up, and I put it in my big ring and dropped it,” Danielson said. “I felt good yesterday, but we’ll see. Coming back after injury, I’m definitely still lacking a little bit in the punchy stuff. I’ll have to be creative today in what I do.”

Danielson’s Slipstream boss Jonathan Vaughters was in a good mood at the start, saying he was very happy with what his team had done in the race thus far.

“But Brasstown is effectively a 10k running race,” Vaughters said. “Teamwork doesn’t have a whole lot to do with it. Either you’ve got it or you don’t. It’s great that we have three guys there. But physics-wise … maybe they could give each other slingshots.”

Photo Gallery