Time to kick off the 2007 Tour de Georgia. Today's stage runs from Medalist Sports headquarters in Peachtree City, down to traditional Stage 1 finishing town, Macon. It's 98.5 miles in all, with 3 circuits of a 2.55-mile loop in downtown Macon expected to happen around 4:30 or 5 p.m.
Stage 1 is traditionally a field sprint after a suicide break. In 2006, Aaron Olson provided the break, and Lars Michaelsen of Team CSC won the field sprint ahead of Freddie Rodriguez and Caleb Manion. Michaelsen, in his final career race, took a special lap of honor yesterday at Paris-Roubaix, where his teammate Stuart O'Grady won the Hell of the North, the toughest of the spring classics.
I'm still a little confused on the team rosters: I found a posted copy dated April 11th, but then in Saturday's pre-race press conference, Levi Leipheimer mentioned Janez Brajkovic as a Discovery Channel rider, and he's not on that roster, so I'll wait to post a final roster link. Update: CyclingNews has a start list that looks reasonable.
Here are the big names: Leipheimer, Hincapie, Danielson for Discovery Channel; Zabriskie, Vande Velde, Haedo for Team CSC; Freddie Rodriguez, Stefano Zanini, and Nick Gates for Predictor-Lotto; 2005 Giro d'Italia winner Gilberto Simoni and David Millar of Prodir-Saunier Duval; Tyler Hamilton, back from his 2-year suspension, for Tinkoff Credit Systems; Nathan O'Neill and Ryder Hesjedal from Health Net/Maxxis; Danny Pate, Tom Peterson, and Patrick McCarty from Team Slipstream; Ivan Dominguez, Chris Baldwin, Chris Wherry, and Henk Vogels from Toyota-United; and Ben Jacques-Maynes of Priority Health.
The strongest sprinters in the field are probably Haedo, Dominguez, and Rodriguez: If you gave me three shots, those are the guys I'd pick to win today. Dominguez has been a monster domestically, and Haedo is coming off a win in the Tour of Cologne: My money's on Haedo for the win today.
The web tracker with video that made its debut for the Tour of California has been updated for the TdG, and is available at www.tourdegeorgiatracker.com. Stage starts at 1 p.m. Eastern. Here's the course map, the course profile, and the course log from the official Tour de Georgia website.