Menu

Danielson wraps up Tour de Georgia, Fraser takes final stage

  • By VeloNews.com
  • Published Apr. 24, 2005
  • Updated Apr. 15, 2008 at 3:54 PM EDT

By Jason Sumner, Special to VeloNews

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Tom Danielson isn’t all that interested in hearing the talk, but it is the inevitability that every great up and coming athlete must face. Following his overall victory at the 2005 Dodge Tour de Georgia, the young American cyclist who can climb and time trial with the best of them, must endure the reality that will come with riding for a Discovery Channel team that is about to lose its No. 1 rider. Whether Danielson likes it or not, the comparisons to Lance Armstrong begin now.

“There will never be another Lance Armstrong,” said Danielson, after wrapping up his win at the six-day race, which ended in Alpharetta on a crisp and windy Sunday evening. “I’d like to clarify that. I just want to do the best I can in the future.”

But don’t let the humility fool you. Danielson has impressed nearly every step of the way, from his early days racing mountain bikes for Fort Lewis College in southwest Colorado, to his breakout win at the 2003 Tour de Langkawi in Malaysia, to this year’s Tour de Georgia. And while he might not be willing to blow his horn to loud, his new teammates aren’t shy about singing the gospel of Tom.

“He’s one of the best climbers I’ve ever seen,” said Jose Rubiera, who captured the KoM jersey here in Georgia. “We think he can become a great cyclist. This is an important race, but in the next few years we expect even bigger results. It’s very important to have him on the team because now Lance is going to stop and he and [Yaroslav] Popovych could become the next leaders of the team.”

In the meantime Danielson heads off to Italy for the start of the Giro d’Italia on May 7, where he’ll serve team leader Paolo Savoldelli, the 2002 Giro d’ Italia champion.

It was Danielson who was being served in Georgia on Sunday, though. The 27-year-old entered the 125.2-mile run from Blairsville to Alpharetta with a slim four-second lead over Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner). Phonak’s Floyd Landis was also lurking, nine seconds in arrears. But with a stacked Discovery team manning the front of the peloton most of the day, Danielson’s lead was as safe as the gold in Fort Knox.

“The tactics of the day were pretty simple: Put the team at the front and keep us out of trouble,” Danielson said. “It was really windy and hilly today. If you were at the front of the peloton you were conserving a lot of energy, so we had the team go to the front and ride hard. They were amazing, every hill they were dropping 15-20 guys off the peloton and they weren’t even giving it their all.”

That would leave the endgame to the sprinters, and it was last year’s Alpharetta winner, Gord Fraser, scoring again. After getting a strong leadout from Landis of all people, Fraser (Health Net-Maxxis) took an easy win ahead of teammate Greg Henderson and Phonak’s Aurelien Clerc.

One-Two punch: Fraser and Henderson take the sprint for Health Net

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

“I didn’t really have a train. [My teammates] did all the work with the LPR guys,” explained Fraser of the labor necessary to bring back a break led by the soon-to-retire Andrea Tafi. “I actually got on Floyd’s wheel. He was my leadout man. It’s good to have such strong friends. We had some common goals throughout the week with us in the sprint jersey and them in yellow. We did a lot of sharing of the work. Floyd and I go way back with the Mercury days. It was a fine gesture on his part to give me a little hand there.”

Indeed, Health Net and Phonak were seen working together on several occasions during the 650-mile race. And while the union couldn’t save the overall jersey for Landis, it did deliver a stage win for Fraser and keep Henderson in the points jersey.

“It was pretty obvious that we were interested in having a bunch sprint,” said Fraser. “We wanted the stage and also the Maxxis sprint jersey which is very important to us as it’s one of our main sponsors.”

Outside of the final sprint, the final day’s action was limited to one significant break that formed midway through the mostly flat run from the mountains of northern Georgia to the suburbs of Atlanta. Not surprisingly it was the ageless Tafi (Prodir-Saunier Duval) taking off. He was joined by American Danny Pate (Jelly Belly-Aramark), Canadian Dominque Perras (Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada) and Gerolsteiner’s Sven Krauss.

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

The foursome would build an advantage that topped out at 3:15. But the sprinters’ teams were not content to let Tafi have one last go at glory, and led by LPR and Health Net, the peloton slowly reeled them in. First Tafi and Perras came back and then finally Pate and Krauss.

Tafi would try one more move late in the race, but the bunch was having none of it, leaving the day’s spoils to the sprinters, as the race whipped around the crowd-packed office park finishing circuit in Alpharetta, where six laps of the 3.65-mile loop concluded the race.

Fraser was the man at the end, with Danielson cruising across safely to take the overall. Aussie mountain biker Trent Lowe grabbed the best young rider jersey for Jittery Joe’s-Kalahari, which had him on loan from MTB squad Subaru-Gary Fisher.

Race Notes
The last U.S. Lance report
In what will probably be his last race on U.S. soil, Armstrong appeared on the podium with his Discovery team as they received the prize for top place in GC. From there he ducked out with a throng of security personnel surrounding him and did not address the media. A team spokesman did pass on a few thoughts the six-time Tour winner had about his stay in Georgia and his preparations for France in July.

“There was no trouble today. It was fairly controlled like last year. Very windy, gusty, a little chilly,” he said. “For me, I’m just as happy to see the team win as I am to get an individual win. The object remains the Tour, and I think I’m on track.

Armstrong and another soon-to-be-retiree at the start

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

“Tom is riding great. I think he’ll do a good Giro.

“The first thing I do now is soak up as much time with my kids and continue to train, continue to gain fitness. I didn’t think I was good enough to win [here], but I felt better toward the end of the race than I did at the beginning so that’s a good sign.”

All American affair
European-based Americans occupied the top six spots in the overall standings. After the top three it went: 4. Bobby Julich, CSC, at 1:10; 5. Lance Armstrong, Discovery, 1:41; 6. David Zabriskie (CSC), at 3:04.

The highest placed U.S.-based rider was Health Net’s Justin England, 14th at 6:45.

Tafi’s next move
After twice taking a last stab at glory during the final stage at the Tour de Georgia, Tafi said he was satisfied with his last day’s in the peloton and ready for stage No. 2 in his life. His future plans include stewarding cycling tourists around the hills of Tuscany.

“It was a good race for me,” said the 38-year-old Tafi. “Today I try to win. Okay no win, but I spend some time in front. For this I am very happy.

“This morning when I pull my jersey on I look in front and think I don’t win too much but I win the good races. And today I have a lot of people come to me and give congratulations.”

The jerseys
Dodge Leader’s Jersey:
Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel)
Maxxis Sprint Leader’s Jersey: Greg Henderson (Health Net-Maxxis)
Georgia Power KOM Leader’s Jersey: Jose Luis Rubiera (Discovery Channel)
GE Best Young Rider Leader’s Jersey: Trent Lowe (Jittery Joe’s-Kalahari)
Aaron Rents Most Aggressive Rider Jersey: Andrea Tafi (Prodir-Saunier Duval)

Stage Results
1. Gordon Fraser (Can) Health Net 4hr59min
2. Gregory Henderson (NZL) Health Net same time
3. Aurelien Clerc (SWI) Phonak Hearing Systems s.t.
4. Danilo Napolitano (ITA) Team L.P.R. s.t.
5. Geoffroy Lequatre (FRA) Credit Agricole s.t.
6. Rene Haselbacher (AUT) Gerolsteiner s.t.
7. Christian Muller (GER) Team CSC s.t.
8. Manuel Quinziato (ITA) Prodir-Saunier Duval s.t.
9. David O’Loughlin (IRL) Navigators Insurance s.t.
10. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team CSC s.t.Others
22. Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel s.t.
29. Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel s.t.

Final overall standings
1. Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel 26:53:44
2. Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner at 4sec
3. Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak 9sec
4. Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC 1min 10sec
5. Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 1min 41sec
6. David Zabriskie (USA) Team CSC 3min 4sec
7. Marco Pinotti (ITA) Prodir-Saunier Duval 3min 11sec
8. Nathan O’Neill (AUS) Navigators Insurance 3min 14sec
9. Michael Blaudzun (DEN) Team CSC 3min 51sec
10. Jose Azevedo (POR) Discovery Channel 3min 58sec

Photo: Casey B. Gibson

Stage 6 Results
Final overall standings

To see how today’s stage developed, simply CLICK HERE to bring up our Live Update window.Earlier reports:
April 23Danielsonwins stage, seizes lead at Georgia
April 22Landisholds lead as CSC’s Vandborg wins stage 4 in Georgia
April 21Landistops in Tour de Georgia TT
April 20Tourde Georgia: Wrolich wins in Rome
April 19Huntertakes slooooooow Georgia opener
PREVIEWAmericanProTour team leaders set to square off in Georgia

Photo Gallery

Results

Stage Results
1. Gordon Fraser (Can) Health Net 4hr59min
2. Gregory Henderson (NZL) Health Net same time
3. Aurelien Clerc (SWI) Phonak Hearing Systems s.t.
4. Danilo Napolitano (ITA) Team L.P.R. s.t.
5. Geoffroy Lequatre (FRA) Credit Agricole s.t.
6. Rene Haselbacher (AUT) Gerolsteiner s.t.
7. Christian Muller (GER) Team CSC s.t.
8. Manuel Quinziato (ITA) Prodir-Saunier Duval s.t.
9. David O’Loughlin (IRL) Navigators Insurance s.t.
10. Christian Vande Velde (USA) Team CSC s.t.Others
22. Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel s.t.
29. Tom Danielson (USA) Discovery Channel s.t.

FILED UNDER: Race Report / Race Results / Road TAGS:

Stay Up to Date on Everything Cycling

Subscribe to the FREE VeloNews newsletter