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April 25/03 5:33 am - Tour of Georgia: Stage 3


Posted by Editoress on 04/25/03
 

Tour of Georgia
Courtesy Giana Roberge, Saturn Cycling Team

As the Dodge Tour of Georgia winds its way through the cities and country side of the Peach State, many wait for the shake up in the overall to occur. With the terrain of Saturday's stage reported to be the most challenging of the six day race, today's stage of 222 kilometers from Pine Mountain/Callaway to Rome provided the key players additional chances to capture some time bonuses and the sprinters another shot at a stage win. Although the stage was long, the maximum elevation was only 415 meters, and left little challenge to the race leader Henk Vogels and his Navigators Team in defending his Yellow Jersey. With the stage having all the trappings of a field sprint finish, it took quite a bit of invested energy from the bigger teams after a surprising tactical decision saw the Navigator team give up the chase, to ensure that it would indeed end with a bunch gallop. In the end, it was Fred Rodriguez (Vini Caldirola-Sidermec) taking the top spot ahead of Prime Alliance's David Clinger in a 50 rider field sprint. However, the story of the day was a solo break of epic proportions by Lionel Syne (Webcor).

Syne attacked 14 kilometers into the race and managed to stay away for 160 kilometers by himself, opening up a maximum gap of 16'45". Throughout most of the day, Syne remained unchallenged by a peloton that was uninterested in a chase. Matt Dubberley (Sierra Nevada) did make an effort to bridge up to Syne after it became obvious the group was content to let him go.

The peloton was a little more interested in chasing when Dubberley was joined by Jonathan Vaughters (Prime Alliance). Vaughters escaped the bunch an attempt to animate the racing and make something of the substantial gap Syne had on the group. Despite the huge amount of time the break gathered, and even as it became more dangerous with the involvement of Vaughters, the Navigator Team seemed nonchalant in their efforts to protect the leader's jersey of Henk Vogels. When it was clear to the other teams that the Navigators were not going to invest themselves in a concerted chase, the duty fell on the shoulder of Saturn to bring the threesome back to the field.

After organized chase from Saturn, the group eventually came together after the Cedartown Sprint, 180 kilometers into the race. Although the counter attacks were fierce, including one from Adham Sbeih (Sierra Nevada-Clif Bar), Steve Larsen (Webcor) and Greg Henderson (7UP/Maxxis) and other one with Chris Horner (Saturn) and Rodriguez, they were in the end futile, and a group of 50 arrived at the finish for the final sprint. It was Rodriguez, in front of a crowd eager to see him victorious, for the win over David Clinger (Prime Alliance) in second and Tony Cruz (US Postal) in third. The Navigators' tactics paid big dividends in the end with Vogels maintaining his lead of the race ahead of Saturn's Nathan O'Neill.


1 Fred Rodriguez (USA) Caldirola Sidermec
2 David Clinger (USA) Prime Alliance
3 Tony Cruz (USA) US Postal

 


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