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Tour de Georgia 2008 Stage 6 Live Updates

10:20 PM: Stage 6 Live CoverageRace starts at 11:00 a.m. ET 11:02 AM: Good day!And welcome to VeloNews.com's Live coverage of the 2008 Tour de Georgia. Today's stage 6 is the one we've all been waiting for: the 88.4-mile charge from Blairsville to the top of Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia.

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By Steve Frothingham

  • 10:20 PM: Stage 6 Live Coverage

    Race starts at 11:00 a.m. ET

  • 11:02 AM: Good day!

    And welcome to VeloNews.com’s Live coverage of the 2008 Tour de Georgia.

    Today’s stage 6 is the one we’ve all been waiting for: the 88.4-mile charge from Blairsville to the top of Brasstown Bald, the highest point in Georgia.

  • 11:05 AM: The route

    The course will soften the riders’ legs before they even get to the bottom of Brasstown. They will do a big loop to the west of Blairsville, then head south and east, passing over Hogpen Gap and Unicoi Gap before the mountain top finish.

  • 11:12 AM: Read up on it

    If you haven’t already, you might want to read Ben Delaney’s preview of today’s stage

  • 11:13 AM: We are off

    The neutral zone has ended, we are now really racing

  • 11:14 AM: Hot and sweaty

    Oh, it’s a sticky, foggy, sweaty day. It’s hot in the sun, not too bad in the shade, but it will be a sticky day on the climbs.

  • 11:15 AM: We have two guys off the front

    they have 15 seconds, waiting for an ID …

  • 11:15 AM: Farrar

    Tyler is one of them …

  • 11:18 AM: Astana

    Astana is monitoring the front, keeping everything together for Leipheimer.

    Looks like Farrar and his companion are back in the fold, but there is some activity at the front, still.

    Rock Racing’s Sevilla is getting a wheel change. Botero is waiting for him.

  • 11:20 AM: Push Here

    The Toyota-United team has little signs on their saddles, they say: “Give me a push up the mountain!”

  • 11:23 AM: Duggan

    Tim Duggan remains in the hospital. He had surgery on his scapula yesterday and he still had a trace amount of bleeding in his head, so they are keeping an eye on him for another day or two. But doctors are very optimistic about his progress.

  • 11:24 AM: Slipstream’s Stylin’ Boss

    Jonathan Vaughters is wearing a sharp yellow sweater in honor of Lowe’s lead. He says it’s a fitted Paul Smith full zip cotton number.

  • 11:27 AM: Km 8

    And there is a move up the road — six or seven guys. Maybe 8 riders: we see Slipstream’s Danny Pate, Aarron Kemps from Astana, Anders Lund from CSC.

    Leipheimer is at the front, helping to bring it back.

  • 11:29 AM: Pate

    Pate will not be working in this group, with Lowe in yellow … Vaughters seems pretty happy with this move, our guy in the Slipstream car reports.

    They have 15 seconds

  • 11:29 AM: Astana

    Horner and Rubiera are at the front for Astana. Still 15 seconds.

  • 11:33 AM: The break:

    Ok, Kemps fell back from the break to help Astana.

    Others in there:
    Lund,
    High Road’s Henderson,
    Gerolsteiner’s Ordowski
    Keong from Marco Polo
    Sayers from BMC
    Teddy King from Bissell
    Frank “Power” Pipp from Health Net
    Team Type 1’s Matt Wilson
    Elkin from Jittery Joes
    Reistad and Tuckerman from Jelly Belly

  • 11:36 AM: The terrain

    Is similar to yesterday, so far – lots of little rollers. We don’t envy these guys on this sticky day.

  • 11:39 AM: Danielson

    Slipstream Tom Danialson lost a few seconds at the end of yesterday’s stage, and that had some folks wondering about his fitness.

    Actually, he dropped his chain on that last kicker hill, trying to dump it from his 52×23 into the small ring. That was enough to cause him to lose contact with the leaders.

  • 11:39 AM: KM19

    And the break has been brought back.

  • 11:40 AM: Still a lot of action

    the field is strung out as we go over some rollers. Astana still at the front.

  • 11:41 AM: Sevilla

    Sevilla dropped his chain, and some teammates dropped back to help him. He’s having a tough day.

    Another move happening at the front …

  • 11:42 AM: Six guys off the front

    Three chasing.

  • 11:54 AM: Our man on the summit

    Actually we have several.

    JoE Silva, who you may know from the VeloNews podcasts and fine articles, is up there.

    “Weather gorgeous, with a cool breeze,” Joe says. “Mid-seventies. Cars lined up at the base of the mountain in either direction for a mile already.”

  • 12:00 PM: Lowe

    We spoke with race leader Trent Lowe this morn. He said he feels just a bit of pressure from the jersey, but his team is so strong he’s not too stressed.

    “We have three or four guys who can get up Brasstown pretty well,” he said.

  • 12:03 PM: KM 36

    We have seven riders off the front with 35 seconds.

    They are:

    Craig Lewis of High Road
    Andrey Mizurov of Astana
    Stephan Schreck of Gerolosteiner

    trying to get the others, stand by …

  • 12:05 PM: the others

    Type 1’s Valery Kobzarenko
    Toyota’s Ivan Stevic
    Neil Shirley of Jittery Joe’s
    Svein Tuft of Symmetrics
    Michael Creed of Rock Racing

  • 12:06 PM: Sevilla

    has had another wheel change, this time the rear. He’s having a tough day.

  • 12:10 PM: That would be eight then …

    wouldn’t it?

  • 12:11 PM: 1:50 and a correction

    It is Jason McCartney, not Kobzarenko, in the break

    The gap is 1:50.

    we are at KM34

  • 12:18 PM: The break again

    They have almost three minutes now. This looks like the break of the day, folks.

  • 12:19 PM: Slipstream at the front

    The team of race leader Trent Lowe doesn’t have anyone in the break; they want to keep it within reason.

  • 12:21 PM: 2:20

    The gap is 2:20 now

  • 12:24 PM: McCartney

    CSC’s Jason McCartney is the best placed rider in the break, at about 30 seconds behind Lowe.

    So he’s the leader on the road, now, for what that’s worth …

  • 12:32 PM: 2:35

    Slipstream still leading the chase. the group is rolling through. This is the first time this week Jittery Joe’s has been able to get into a significant break. Neil Shirley can climb, too, this could be a good day for him.

  • 12:34 PM: Mizurov

    Astana has a man in the break, but he is not pulling through … he’s just monitoring things for Leipheimer. Astana is near the front of the chase, but leaving the work to Slipstream … so this break works well for Astana, not so perfect for the Slippers.

  • 12:36 PM: 5k to the first sprint

    Today’s sprint is back in Blairsville as the riders complete their opening loop and heads out toward Brasstown.

  • 12:37 PM: 2:45 gap

    the field is 1km from the sprint.

  • 12:37 PM: Levi is back at the Astana car

    They are messing with his jersey or his radio

  • 12:38 PM: The points to Shirley

    Neil got the points, Stevic was second, Schreck was third

  • 12:40 PM: Be happier if we had a guy

    Vaughters says he’s satisfied with this break, but he’d be happier if Slipstream had a guy in it …
    2:35 is the latest gap.

  • 12:45 PM: fans in the ‘Springs

    Some of Michael Creed‘s fans in Colorado Springs are getting excited, we hear.

  • 12:45 PM: the crowds

    The chase is going up a steep little hill, some fans beside the road, ringing bells …

  • 12:47 PM: Lowe

    Our race leader is sitting fourth in the peloton behind three teammates as they tuck down a nice little descent.

  • 12:49 PM: 2:50

    the gap is 2:50. Slipstream is keeping the pace steady in the pack.

  • 12:54 PM: Horner

    We also spoke with Chris Horner at the start this morning. He said he is 100 percent committed to helping Leipheimer today.

    Horner said we could see some crazy team tactics on the Brasstown climb as Astana and Sliptream have two or three riders each who could still be at the front at least half way up the final climb … with the close GC competition, it could be a fun ride.

  • 12:56 PM: Hot and sweaty

    Looks like a disco out here, all the guys with their jerseys unzipped. Just need some gold chains.

  • 12:58 PM: Rolling through

    The break is working well together. We are at mile 45.

  • 12:59 PM: About ten miles to Hogpen

    But there are lots of little rollers here. we will be heading up Craigs Gap before we hit Hogpen, which is the first KOM climb.

  • 01:00 PM: 2:15

    The gap is coming down.

    We are at KM77 with the field.

    Pate Euser and Farrar are at the front, rolling through.

  • 01:02 PM: 1:55

    The gap is coming down as we approach the feedzone

  • 01:02 PM: The break

    The break is 5km from the summit of Hogpen Gap

  • 01:04 PM: Hogpen

    Hogpen is a cat 1 climb, a steep sucker. Astana might try to spring someone on this climb … the gap is down to 1:45.

  • 01:08 PM: Lot of uncertainty

    If the pack reels in the break on Hogpen, things could get wild over the last 30 miles, when we head over Unicoi and then on to Brasstown. It will be tough for Slipstream and Astana to control anything in that terrain, and all sorts of wild cards could come to the front.

    Nice road here, seems a bit cooler as we head up in altitude.

  • 01:12 PM: the break gets a feed

    The riders are all taking musettes and now they are getting back to work.

  • 01:18 PM: Hogpen

    The break has hit the start of the steeps, they are all out of their saddles. McCartney is leading, looking a bit cramped. Shirley is looking sprightly

  • 01:18 PM: Stevic

    Stevic was dropped

  • 01:19 PM: Lewis next?

    Lewis is dangling a bit.

  • 01:19 PM: Gap is 2:05

    The gap is holding

  • 01:21 PM: Tuft

    the Symmetrics rider is leading, McCartney still at his right, Shirley looking totally comfy sitting behind those two

    Gerolsteiner’s Schreck is off the back with Lewis

  • 01:23 PM: We are four

    Shirley leading now, followed by Tuft, McCartney and Astana’s Mizurov

  • 01:24 PM: Farrar and Euser

    Farrar and Euser are dropping back from the chase group

  • 01:25 PM: 25 seconds

    the chase is hammering, the gap is coming down fast

  • 01:26 PM: 1km to top

    The four are hitting the 1k to the top line

  • 01:27 PM: Word from the summit

    The local stores must be completely out of chalk, as the 5km climb up Brasstown is covered in cycling graffiti. Of particular prominence are orange and blue designs: Slipstream has some fans in Georgia.

    We saw 10-foot argyle diamonds, tons of names, and the DZ Zone, where some guys spent the better part of quite some time scrawling DZ a few dozen times.

  • 01:28 PM: Getting steeper

    the four are battling, Mizurov might be hurting a bit, but of course he’s not supposed to pull through anyway

    500 meters to the summit

  • 01:29 PM: 1:45

    that last time split must have been a mistake. Now the officials are saying 1:45

  • 01:29 PM: Shirley goes

    But McCartney takes the KOM

  • 01:31 PM: Creed fans

    We have to apologize: an hour ago we reported Rock Racing’s Mike Creed was in the break … he was not. He was the mystery 8th rider who we never could quite ID …

    In any case, we are now down to four riders off the front. They are over Hogpen summit but haven’t’ hit the fast part of the descent yet.

  • 01:35 PM: The four

    The break is screaming down this narrow technical descent.

    Mizurov is still hanging off the back.

    The field has come over the top. It’s trimmed down to about 50 guys.

  • 01:43 PM: The four down safely

    That was fun. We’re down from Hogpen and rolling along again. We need a split.

    Reports from the peloton is that Leipheimer was at the front for most of the descent.

  • 01:44 PM: And some more reading material

    VeloNews.com has posted an article about the gearing choices for today’s Brasstown Bald climb.

  • 01:45 PM: six chasers

    Six chasers have gapped the peloton and have about 30 seconds. Sevilla may be in there

  • 01:46 PM: Up front,

    Shirley and Mizorov have been dropped by Tuft and McCartney

  • 01:47 PM: the four

    Shirley has caught back on, Mizurov is catching now …

  • 01:48 PM: The six

    So we have four at the front

    And then six – the Sevilla group, at about 2 minutes

    then 30 seconds back to the peloton

  • 01:50 PM: trying to ID the six

    There is a High Roader in there, an Astana rider, a CSC rider …

  • 01:51 PM: Botero not Sevilla

    the Rock Racing rider in the group of six is Santiago Botero

  • 01:51 PM: The summit

    It’s raining up there

  • 01:54 PM: The six

    Botero of Rock Racing
    Brad McGee of CSC
    Craig Lewis and
    Thomas Lovkvist of High Road
    Stefan Schreck of Gerolsteiner
    Jose Luis Rubiera of Astana

  • 01:55 PM: Light drizzle up top

    people are starting to cover up.

  • 01:57 PM: Botero

    Botero normally would be dangerous, but he hasn’t had a great week. He got dropped in the team time trial.

  • 01:59 PM: The six and four coming together

    the six are within sight of the four leaders

  • 02:01 PM: Lewis dropped

    Lewis has fallen off the bridging group,

    So now it’s five latching on to the four.

    When they come together we will have 2 CSC riders and 2 Astana riders

  • 02:04 PM: The peloton

    The peloton is splitting apart, there is a main pack of about 30. They are only 1:45 behind the four leaders. The five bridgers are within maybe 15 seconds of the four leaders.

  • 02:07 PM: Schreck

    Gerolsteiner’s Stephan Schreck is falling off of the bridging group, so now we have four chasing four.

  • 02:08 PM: Approaching Unicoi

    We are getting close to the base of Unicoi Gap, our second KOM mountain.

  • 02:11 PM: Ik to Unicoi

    McCartney is on the front as they approach Unicoi.

    This is a big wide road, with a climbing lane. When they get over this, there’s not much break before the Brasstown fun begins

  • 02:12 PM: The four bridgers

    The McCartney group is still 30 seconds ahead of the Botero group. McCartney is not letting up to let the four catch on

  • 02:13 PM: the four

    The four look similar to the the top of Hogpen – McCartney and Shirley at the front, Astana’s Mizurov sitting on

  • 02:14 PM: And just like last time

    Just like on Hogpen, McCartney took the KOM points by several lengths.

    And he’s calling for a drink from his team car. Will this four wait for the Botero group now?

  • 02:17 PM: Shirley

    Neil Shirley took a little flyer that McCartney quickly contained. The Botero group is still 30 seconds back.

    The remnants of the peloton – maybe 45 riders? is together, with some Slipstream riders at the front.

  • 02:21 PM: McCartney

    McCartney is tireless. He’s at the front, his hands near the stem, just pumping out the watts. The Botero group still a half minute back.

    Back in the pack, our race leader, Trent Lowe, is sitting pretty behind a couple teammates, and Levi Leipheimer is near the front, sitting behind teammate Chris Horner.

  • 02:22 PM: Two minutes

    The peloton is two minutes behind the McCartney group. The Botero group is 1:30 ahead of the peloton.

  • 02:24 PM: Mile 80

    We are at mile 80.

  • 02:25 PM: Mizurov

    the Astana man has dropped back to the Botero group

  • 02:25 PM: Now the big group is together

    Shirley has broken off the front alone, chased by seven

  • 02:27 PM: Shirley gets a gap

    He has a gap over the seven,

    1:40 back to the peloton we hear — not sure if that’s the gap to Shirley or to the seven …

  • 02:28 PM: About 10k to the finish

    Shirley has about 20 seconds over the chasers

  • 02:30 PM: Shirley

    He’s out of the saddle a lot, still hasn’t got to the meat of the Brasstown climb …

  • 02:31 PM: cool and dry at the summit

    the drizzle has cleared off. They say any real stormin’ won’t arrive until later in the afternoon.

  • 02:32 PM: Shirley is hitting steep section

    He’s on Owl Creek Road and out of the saddle, looking over his shoulder.

  • 02:33 PM: the peloton in sight

    He likely saw the peloton and the chase group bearing down. Not a pretty sight when you are struggling up a grade like this.

  • 02:34 PM: Shirley

    getting reeled in, there are riders splitting all over the road, now, as we approach the Brasstown in earnest

  • 02:34 PM: Leaders

    McCartney and Rubiera are catching and dropping Shirley

  • 02:35 PM: Shirley gone

    Rubiera and McCartney are leading the race.

  • 02:36 PM: McGee

    It’s McGee and Rubiera, sorry, not McCartney

  • 02:37 PM: McCartney

    in no man’s land, waiting for the peloton.

    now we get a little descent

  • 02:39 PM: Julich coming across

    Bobby Julich has left the peloton and is moving up to his teammate, McGee.

    meanwhile up front, Rubiera is leading McGee.

  • 02:40 PM: Julich

    Julich is not making much headway.

  • 02:42 PM: Rubiera out of the saddle

    They have now hit the official start of Brasstown.

    Astana, perhaps Horner, is leading a select group.

  • 02:43 PM: Mcgee

    McGee popped from Rubiera.

    There is an elite group chasing,we see Leipheimer, Lowe, Horner, Danielson?

  • 02:44 PM: the elite group

    The group is bearing down on Rubiera

  • 02:46 PM: Now three Astanas

    Rubiera, Horner, Leipheimer
    followed by Lowe and four or five others. We see a Rock Racing boy in there.

    Lowe is looking good.

  • 02:48 PM: Aldape

    Moises Aldape is there, the Team Type 1 rider is hanging on.

    We don’t see any other Slipstreamers there … Leipheimer has two teammates, Lowe has zip

  • 02:49 PM: Astana’s Colom

    Antonio Colom is leading the group, Horner and Mizurov Rubiera have dropped off

    Sevilla was the RR dude, and he’s dropping off

  • 02:51 PM: We have seven

    Sevilla is catching back on, that makes seven, with Leipheimer, Lowe, Sevilla .. they are hitting the steepest part.

  • 02:52 PM: Leipheimer leading

    Lowe is on his wheel, both are out of the saddle. Colom has popped

  • 02:53 PM: Fans running beside them

    Leipheimer and Lowe and High Road’s Siutsou are all that’s left
    2k to go

  • 02:54 PM: Leipheimer and Lowe

    and Siutsiou are pulling away.

    Leipheimer looks in control, he’s keeping an eye on Lowe. He only needs a few seconds to take the overall lead.

  • 02:55 PM: Lowe

    Lowe is on form, too, needless to say. He has his mouth closed, breathing through his nose on the steeps, poker faced

  • 02:56 PM: Leipheimer leading

    leipheimer is on the front, then Lowe, the Siutsou

  • 02:56 PM: Sevilla

    Sevilla is within sight of the three, making his way back on a slightly easier section.

  • 02:57 PM: 1 k to go

    they are under the kite

  • 02:58 PM: Sevilla

    Sevilla on the front.

    And Rory Sutherland is coming out of no where, closing on the front four

  • 02:58 PM: Leipheimer

    Leipheimer is jamming, 500 meters

  • 02:59 PM: Siutsou

    Siutsou attacks with 450 meters

  • 02:59 PM: Leipheimer and Lowe

    watching each other

  • 03:00 PM: Leipheimer and Lowe

    almost stoppped

    Now Levi goes!

  • 03:00 PM: Siutsou is still off

    Leipheimer takes off, but Lowe is on him

  • 03:01 PM: Siustou

    looks like he will have it

    Lowe and Levi still together

  • 03:01 PM: Siutsou

    he’s got the win

  • 03:02 PM: Lowe

    Lowe was with Leipheimer – he will retain the yellow

  • 03:03 PM: Leipheimer

    Leipheimer threw down some vicious attacks in the last k, but Lowe matched all of them

  • 03:03 PM: Lowe was second

    Lowe actually made up time on Leipheimer in the last few meters.

  • 03:06 PM: Lowe

    Wow, he just calmly stayed on Leipheimer’s wheel and outkicked him in the last few meters (which, on this grade, is a long stretch)

  • 03:13 PM: One more stage

    Lowe goes into he final stage with an increased overall lead.

    And that’s all from here. Keep an eye on VeloNews.com for a complete report, results, photos and even a wattage report from Health Net’s Frank Pipp.