Wow. What a week of racing! One can only hope that the organizers will be able to replicate the event against in subsequent years. Of course, to do so they'll need to once again attract several Division I teams from the European cycling scene; that's what made the difference between this year and last. Moreover, the organizers truly did a very good job of creating stages that were reminescent of the Grand Tours in Europe, right down to Stage 5 with several major Cols (19k vert feet all tolled), Stage 6 with two epic climbs including the "hors catagorie" moutain top finish at Brasstown Bald, and then the finale in Alpharetta, GA where the peloton came into the town for the final 10k which was ridden in four circuits around a business park but, with an uphill sprint finish -- which is what did in Cippo. Had it not been an uphill finish (4% grade), Cippo may have had a better shot at the final sprint. As it was, he didn't get the lead out he needed (the second Domina Vacanze rider to finish was in 31st position), had to go it alone for the final 50m and was eaten up by Gord Fraser & Juan Jose Haedo inside the final 10m to the finish.
Lots of great anecdotes came out of this tour. While still 5k from the end of the climb up Brasstown Bald Lance was quoted as saying to the riders around him, "There's no way we finish at the top" as he looked up at how far the summit was... It is steep; reaallly steep as you get inside the final 2mi to the top. 20% with 23% through the switchbacks. Mario Cippollini even called out for a push as he came into the super steep stuff and fans quickly obliged (Note: At last report he was not fined or penalized). Jens Voigt with his "Arnold-like" accent said "These are for you pretty little girl" as he handed his flowers to our friend's 3 year old after the TT in Rome; unfortunately "mom" had her back to the whole episode as she shot-off photos of Cippo and Lance. And so it goes. We saw Bobke several times throughout the tour; at the top of Woody's Gap, the finish in Dahlonega, and then again in Alpharetta, and also had the distinct pleasure seeing Davis Phinney who addressed the audience.
Awsome, simply awesome.
Last edited by livngood; 04-27-04 at 12:29 PM.