Thursday, September 11, 2008

TOM Stage 4 Lebanon to Rolla

With Rogers (Columbia) and Tuft (Symmetrics) within a minute of the yellow jersey and George Hincapie (Columbia) only 1’03” behind, Garmin/Chipotle had a tough day in the saddle defending Mr. Vande Velde’s yellow jersey. The day took its toll on the leader and he missed the press conference due to dehydration. He was quoted as saying, “The attacks were just relentless today. Our strategy was always to keep control.”

Most of the peloton lagged 10 minutes behind and the officials kept them out of the finishing circuits until the race was decided leaving only 23 riders to contest the finish but it was already too late for most of them. Michael Barry (Columbia) made the right attack at the right time to stay away from the chasers and show that he was back on form even with the high average speed of 27 to 28 mph. He commented later that the rolling terrain, relentless climbs, and aggressive field made for tough racing and Garmin did the best job they could while Columbia kept attacking over the top of them after each break was caught. He looked fatigued, yet obviously buoyed by the stage win.

Yesterday Vande Velde mentioned, “I can’t sprint myself out of a paper bag,” and today he was just outsprinted at the line for the remaining time bonuses. Eric Baumann (Sparkasse) captured enough points (31) with his second place finish to rob Mr. Cavendish of his green jersey. Baumann’s new jersey is far from secure with Cavendish only one point behind.

Dominique Rollin solidified his lead for the KOM jersey. With only 1 KOM on the road tomorrow, Toyota United will work for a stage win Ivan Dominquez (fair weather) or Rollin himself (all-weather, as in San Luis Obispo). The incoming weather may split the field and a tough Canadian like Rollin or Tuft may thrive in those harsh conditions while Garmin keeps a weather eye out for the contenders within two minutes of the lead.

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