Posted by Editor on 04/21/04
Tour of Georgia Georgia, USA
This report made possible by Human Kinetics Publishers
Stage 2 :Thomaston to Columbus, 189.9 km
After a disappointing first stage, when he did not contest the sprint, Mario Cipollini (Domina Vacanze) roared back to centre stage with a dramatic victory in stage two of the Tour de Georgia. Ivan Dominguez (Colvita-Bolla Wines) finished second, for the second consecutive day, and race leader Gord Fraser (Health Net) took third, keeping the leader's jersey for another day. Fraser also continues to hold the Sprint Jersey.
The 190 kilometre stage gave the riders their first introduction to climbing, with two ranked climbs - a Category 3 and a Category 4. The action began 24 kilometres into the race, when a group of four formed off the front. Scott Zwizanski (Ofoto) started the action, and was quickly joined by Mark Walters (Navigators). Jacob Piil (CSC) was the next to bridge across, and finally Will Frischkorn (Colavita-Bolla Wines).
The four riders worked smoothly together, taking the lead to over two and half minutes. However, both Health Net and Domina Vacanze wanted to bring things back together, and put riders at the front of the peloton to set tempo and keep the break from getting too far up the road. Although it looked like there was a train of Health Net riders working, Fraser said there was only one:
"It may have looked like we had a bunch of guys at the front, but it was my room mate Jason (McCartney) and one Domina Vacanze at the front all day. We were just tucked in behind. Jason did an unbelievable job, and the rest of the team will be more rested."
The breakaways stayed away for nearly 145 kilometres, but the writing was on the wall when their lead dipped below two minutes. One thing that did not help was Frischkorn's flat - the others waited for him, knowing that their chances were even more unlikely with only three. The only other item of interest that occurred was when Lance Armstrong (US Postal) flatted after the top of the first KoM. He received a fast wheel change, and three team mates paced him back up. Other than that, Armstrong stayed towards the back of the peloton for much of the day.
On the outskirts of Columbus the group was absorbed and Domina Vacanze and Health Net began to set up for the sprint. Domina Vacanze had the upper hand here, with Giovanni Lombardi and Massimillano Mori setting pace for Cipollini in the final lap of the three 3.5 kilometre finishing circuits.
The riders made a left with about 400 metres to go, and Dominguez attacked almost immediately out of the corner. "I went almost from the last corner. But I saw three lines at the finish (two for a pedestrian crossing before the finish) and slowed up a bit, and then saw the real line. Eeyah! Cipollini pulled up beside me and I went again but it was too late, and Cipollini was going too fast."
Fraser had his own problems, picking the wrong wheel to follow: "I got on Enrico Degano's (Barloworld) wheel and he just sort of petered out; I chose the wrong wheel. Ivan jumped right, Mario went left, and I was in the middle. I stayed with Enrico, but I should have gone with Ivan, he was the man today. I'm glad to be in the yellow, but third is disappointing for a sprinter; finishing third is a bit like kissing your sister."
For Mario Cipollini, it was a bit of a vindication, after a disappointing ride the day before in Macon. "Yesterday was a different day - I was not accustom to the heat here, and there was a bit of jet lag. Today the team wanted to do well. A victory every time is important. My team did very good work today, and Mori and Lombardi did a lot of work for me at the end. Dominguez was very, very fast; a surprise for me. Lombardi and Mori started quite early, so they could not launch me perfectly. Dominguez anticipated me, and at 100 metres he was still in front."
However, Mario prevailed, much to the delight of the crowd. When he came onto the podium there was a huge roar, and he seemed surprised and pleased by the reception. He added to the crowd's delight by exchanging multiple kisses with Miss Columbus as she handed up flowers.
Tomorrow the riders face a double stage day, with a shorter road race in the morning, and a time trial in the afternoon. At that point, we should have a clearer idea of who the real contenders are.
- There is a marked difference between the actions of Mario Cipollini and Lance Armstrong. Cipollini is gracious and stops to sign dozens of autographs and shake hands with everyone who wants to meet him. He is rapidly becoming a favoured son of Georgia, and was presented with the City Key to Columbus by the mayor at the end of today's stage. Armstrong, on the other hand, stays in his motorhome until he signs in, then goes straight back to it until it is time to emerge for the start. In the race, he stays mainly hidden in the middle of the pack chatting with others. During the pre-race team introduction he seemed disinterested, and quickly disappeared, while Cipollini stayed to answer questions.
- We are still waiting for full results at the time of posting. Apparently, there are going to be a number of fines and time penalties applied. There was considerable drafting going on in the caravan, and public urinating did take place....
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