Sunday, September 14, 2008

TOM Stage 6 Herman to St. Charles

Even though the road to St. Charles started out hilly and included three KOM opportunities. All three were taken by Carlos Oyarzun (Tecos) in the break but no one in the break threatened Dominique Rollin’s KOM lead. The course flattened out toward the finish and the peloton caught the break of eleven riders. The attacks continued to come from Columbia up to the finish even with the average speed for the day being over 27 MPH. Michael Barry made a solo move a couple of miles out and was able to gain 45” but he was never quite out of sight of peloton and was soon caught.

Through the last few turns the speed surged and as the leaders pushed to the outside of the last right-hand turn yesterday’s winner, Boy Van Poppel (Rabobank) ran out of room on the road. His cyclo-cross skills gave him an option and he hopped up on to the curb riding the sidewalk for a few hundred meters before regaining a place in the peloton.

The long straight finishing stretch gave Columbia the time to position Cavendish behind Hincapie for the finishing dash. Later in the press conference Cavendish said he told George to go and he went hard but it was too early. Cavendish continued his efforts beating his next closest contender, Ivan Dominguez (Toyota-United) by a little more than a wheel at the line. Dominguez sat up 5 meters before the line realizing that Cavendish had him. Jelly Belly’s Brad Huff finished a strong third and our young pro from yesterday, Boy Van Poppel finished 8th.

1. Mark Cavendish, Team Columbia
2. Ivan Dominguez, Toyota-United Pro Cycling Team
3. Brad Huff, Jelly Belly Cycling Team
4. Michael Van Stayen, Rabobank
5. Luis Hernandez, Tecos de la Universidad Autonoma de Guadalaiara

In Sunday’s final stage Christian Vande Velde (Garman-Chipotle) will need to stay upright in the rain-slick streets of St. Louis to keep his yellow jersey from the hands of the nearest competitors: Mick Rogers (Columbia 18” back) and Svein Tuft (Symmetrics 48” back). Each of the intermediate sprint zones have a 3” time bonus for 1st place and the end of the stage has 15” for first place but it is unlikely any attempt by Tuft to take these would go unanswered by Garmin-Chipotle and even less likely he could beat all the other sprinters in the fast downhill finish.

Vande Velde said it has been a great experience for Garmin-Chipotle to take on the challenge of defending the leader’s jersey day after day, especially with the number one ranked team in the world, Team Columbia, throwing everything they could at them. Vande Velde gave an honorable mention to his young teammate Steven Cozza who labored selflessly at the front working to keep the race under control. Even Mr. Vande Velde mentioned how high the average speed was today and during the entire race. He commented on the high caliber of racing this late in the season and said he would be back next year, “If my schedule will allow.” Then he added, “It will allow.”

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