Posted by Editoress on 04/25/08
Tour de Georgia
Amy Smolens' pre and post race interviews with the Canucks
Dominique Rollin - Toyota-United
Amy Smolens: How are your legs feeling before Stage 5 here in Suwanee?
Dominique Rollin: Legs are a little bit tired after two days of working hard, especially Wednesday working for Ivan (Dominguez) protecting the (Yellow) Jersey and yesterday in the Team Time Trial going hard. But I think everyone's in the same boat and we'll just have a good day on the road and hopefully get something up the road.
AS: Today has three categorized climbs - it it a true mountain stage or more of a hard man's stage that could suit you?
DR: Hmmmm... hard to say. Depends on how the guys go on the hills. If everyone goes hard on the climbs it can be a good mountain stage, but it's Cat 3s, I don't think the grades are too high except for the last climb, could be a good day for me.
AS: What's Toyota-United's GC plans, are you working for Chris Baldwin?
DR: GC got affected by Ben Day's crash two days ago so we're still working on maybe getting Baldwin up the road on tomorrow's stage (Brasstown Bald,) but we're still hoping for stage wins, that's the main goal.
Svein Tuft - Symmetrics
Amy Smolens: What did you think of yesterday's Team Time Trial on the Road Atlanta track?
Svein Tuft: It was hard, very hard (laughs.)
AS: Did it take much out of your legs or do you still feel pretty good heading into the mountains today and tomorrow.
ST: Yeah, I think it's funny because you don't think an effort like that's really going to zap you, but definitely just the way it was ridden, it really zaps you because you have to go so punchy, you know? So yeah, it hurts the legs, but I mean, not like a stage like today's (133.4 miles) going to.
AS: Personally, how important are today and tomorrow for you if you're looking toward August and selection for Beijing?
ST: Yeah, definitely, but I don't know if the form's all there yet. I've kind of been planning a later part of the year for myself, but yeah, definitely if I can give `er a go today I'll be trying just like everyone else is.
AS: Is today more of hard man's stage than a mountain stage like tomorrow's up Brasstown Bald will be so you could have an opportunity?
ST: Yeah, today is going to a bit of a war I think until something settles, until a break goes. We just hope to have a guy in there. And tomorrow the big teams will be taking care of their guys to the bottom of the climb (Brasstown Bald) and then letting them go.
Cam Evans - Symmetrics
Amy Smolens: How much do you have left in your legs after yesterday's Team Time Trial?
Cam Evans: Well, I'm not too sure yet, but I guess we'll find out this morning.
AS: How is your confidence level now that you're heading into the mountains the next two days?
CE: Well, I think for myself personally I'm just more of an all-rounder so I'm more looking to focus on stages rather than GC and hopefully we can get Christian (Meier) in a good spot heading into tomorrow (Brasstown Bald.)
AS: Looking at today's stage profile, might today be a good day for you to get into a break and show off the Maple Leaf jersey?
CE: I'll try to, yeah! I think a lot of guys will be thinking the same thing, most of our team will be trying the same thing, but yeah, we'll try and get some guy up the road.
Cam Evans - Symmetrics, in 4-man break for almost 100 miles
AS: This morning you didn't know how much would be left in your legs after yesterday, but I guess it was enough.
Cam Evans: Yeah, it was good I think. They felt it a bit but I think they were decent, anyway.
AS: How did they break get established and how were you working together?
CE: Well, I guess initially Tim Johnson and I went and then the two other guys (Teddy King and Valery Kobzarenko) came up and that was pretty much it. It was kind of the right mix, I guess, and we went from there.
AS: How were you guys working together?
CE: It was good. Everyone worked well I think, right until the end, basically. I mean, it was close, within a couple k's.
AS: You four were away for almost 100 miles, at any point did you think the break would stick until the finish?
CE: The only time I started to think that was more towards the end when we still had like four minutes at 25k (to go to the finish,) because I knew if we took out like a huge 12 minutes right away, they're going to start riding if it gets that big. So at that point I kind of thought more about conserving a little bit, but you have to have that punch at the end if you want to stay away.
AS: Does doing well in a stage like this give you hope that since Beijing's a hard course maybe you have a chance at the Olympic selection?
CE: Yeah, I mean it would certainly be nice and hopefully they'll look at something like that, but I think it's hard to say.
AS: How big is it for you and your Symmetrics team to have been out there in this break in an important race like this.
CE: Yeah, I think it's good. I just had to look at the stages and this was a stage that kind of suits me I would say and suits our team. It's definitely always good to be represented, especially in such a long break and I think it looks good for the team when we've got guys who are willing to lay it on the line and be aggressive and not just sit in so I think it's good.
Postrace, Andrew Pinfold - Symmetrics, 4th place on stage
AS: It was a good day for team Symmetrics today. With Cam in the break, were you able to save your legs a bit?
Andrew Pinfold: Yeah, well, as best I could. Definitely, there was some tough tempo up there set by Astana and High Road, in particular between the first and second KOMs, once the gap had gone up to about 11 minutes and it was really difficult. So as best I could, and we all kind of tried to conserve as much as we could and it turned out really well at the end, I think.
AS: Did you feel that Cam and those guys could stay away?
AP: Well, I think that if there hadn't been that hill, that real pinch at the end (the third KOM of the day)... You know, it's one of those things, the odds aren't really in the breakaway's favour, particularly when you've got the ProTour teams riding behind them, they don't really screw up all that often when they set tempo like that. But you know, there's always an outside chance, and it was great to have him in the move, and it just shows his strength, he's a phenomenal rider. We were happy to have him there, and getting a lot of publicity and showcasing the team, it was great.
AS: How did the last kilometre or so and the final sprint go?
AP: Well over the top of the hill I just kind of gritted my teeth and followed (George) Hincapie, and that was a great wheel to be on, so we crested the hill and I looked back and it was a really small group so I thought "oh, that'll be good, I'll just stay up here" and I knew it was technical towards the finish. There were a couple of guys hitting out with about 700 metres to go and then it just lulled up, and I thought, I'd been doing ok in the bunch sprints but I haven't been winning them and unfortunately I kind of made a critical error at that point, I said, "oh, throw a bit of a Hail Mary" and I attacked with about 500 metres to go and (Astana's Chris) Horner did about five pedal strokes and caught me (big laugh,) so he went by me and I was able to get on his wheel and then we got swarmed a little bit and I just held on as best I could at the finish. So you know, it was a bit of an error in judgment at that point there were very few sprinters left and I should have just bided my time a little bit but I gave it a go, you know?
AS: With these close calls here, a 5th, a 6th and now a 4th place and the close calls last year at the Tour of Missouri, is that a good thing at races of this caliber or is it frustrating?
AP: You know, as I've been saying to the guys here, for me to get on the podium here everything has to go right and I can't have a brain freeze like I did today at the end. On the podium everything has to go right and for me to win a stage here everything has to go perfect and a few guys have to really screw up, I think. As far as coming in to the finish, I'm happy with it. In Missouri, the first stage I got 2nd, I was disappointed, but you know, when you're in the mix eventually things will happen, I suppose, and I'm obviously doing something right so as long as just I keep banging my head against the wall, eventually it'll break, I hope (laughing!)
AS: Your head will break?
AP: No, hopefully the wall will break before my head does (laughing!!) In that regard, you just keep knocking on the door and hopefully it'll open at some point.
Australian Richard England of Bissell Pro Cycling used a downhill decent in the final 500 meters to push himself to a Stage Five victory at 2008 Tour de Georgia presented by AT&T. Thousands of spectators lined the streets of Dahlonega to see 22 in the pro peloton battle for the finish line adjacent to North Georgia College and State University. Finishing just behind England was fellow Aussie Rory Sutherland of Health Net presented by Maxxis and American George Hincapie of Team High Road.
"I knew that if I was in first around the corner, even though there were guys with good legs behind me, I knew I was still going to have a chance on the podium," said England, a third-year professional rider about the end of his five hours of racing 133.4 miles (214.7 km). "I went around the corner and gave it everything I had to the finish line and ended up coming out on front."
After today's action, Trent Lowe (AUS) of Slipstream Chipotle moved to first place in the General Classification and donned the AT&T Overall Leader Jersey. Slipstream, which won Thursday's Team Time Trial, has riders rounding out the G.C. Top 3 with David Zabriskie (USA) in second and Christian Vande Velde (USA) in third. Americans Levi Leiphiemer and Chris Horner of Astana moved up to fourth and fifth, respectively, in the G.C.
While Lowe also leads the GE Best Young Rider classification, that award jersey will be worn by Christian Meier (CAN) of Symmetrics Cycling, currently second in points. Edward King (USA) of Bissell will wear the United Community Bank King of the Mountain (KOM) jersey. Tim Johnson (USA) of Health Net presented by Maxxis was awarded the Georgia Lottery Most Aggressive Rider jersey for two attacks on the mountain stage.
Stage Five, the longest stage of the week, began in Suwanee/Gwinnett County, a first-time venue for the Tour. The 117 riders departed from Town Center Park, a part of the 63-acre Suwanee Town Center, at 10:00 a.m. The first of two mountain stages, Stage Five was a battlefield for climbers. Three United Community Bank King of the Mountain competitions were contested in front of huge crowds at Burnt Mountain, Woody Gap and Crown Mountain before finishing in the gold rush town of Dahlonega. Four riders, including Johnson and King, were part of a four-man break that led for most of the race, but melted into the peloton at the final KOM.
"There's great crowds in Georgia," Johnson said about the spectators along the route today. "For myself, I rode for Jittery Joe's in '05, I lived in Athens, Georgia for half the year, so I heard a lot of Ã…â€™Go Tim' out there which, I gotta say, when you travel far and wide to race, it's pretty nice to hear your name yelled when you're going by. But for sprinters like Richard (England), that's what you need to get over a climb. If you're not 100% confident you're gonna make it, when you hear people screaming, it definitely helps."
Stage Six, the "Queen Stage" of the Tour, will launch from Blairsville/Union County at 11:00 a.m. and engage riders in an intense 88.4-mile (142.2 km) journey through the Appalachian Mountains of north Georgia. UCB KOM points will be earned at Hogpen and Unicoi Gaps before the stage finish at the highest spot in Georgia (4,783 feet), Brasstown Bald Mountain in Towns County.
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