Landis Claims Overall Victory at 2006 Tour de Georgia
Discovery riders Danielson and Popovych take remaining podium spots.
The day belonged to overall race leader Floyd Landis (USA) of Phonak Hearing Systems - iShares, who maintained his four-second advantage over second place finisher and fellow American Tom Danielson of the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling team, winning the 2006 Ford Tour de Georgia. Third place went to Danielson?s teammate Yaroslav Popovych (Ukraine). Danielson won last year?s event by four seconds over Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Gerolsteiner, and Landis finished just nine seconds back. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
This year, Landis takes home the yellow Ford overall leader jersey and the Fr?bel glass trophy, created by Fr?bel Artists Hans Godo Fr?bel and Tung Bui. Landis flatted with four laps to go in Alpharetta, but lost no time in the end with a wheel change from teammate Ignacio Gutierrez ( <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>
"It feels very good. I don't think it was any easier, or harder than the other races. They were all very difficult. Obviously, our team is one of the favorites when we come here (to Georgia), so nobody made it easy on us,? Landis said at the post-race press conference. ?It was a very good race. It was close, but we pulled it off."
The grand finale of the Ford Tour de Georgia came down to a field sprint after 118.2 miles/190.2 km and six furious circuits in historic Alpharetta, won by Juan Jose ?JJ? Haedo (Argentina) of Toyota-United Pro cycling team. Gord Fraser (Canada) of Health Net presented by MAXXIS, who has won the Alpharetta stage the past two years, finished second. Third place went to Swiss rider Aurelien Clerc of Phonak Hearing Systems.
?I put all my heart into the last
Of the 119 original riders 100 finished the Ford Tour de Georgia on Sunday, completing the 601.5-mile stage race. The Aaron?s Most Aggressive Rider jersey changed hands again today, going to American Will Frischkorn of Team TIAA-CREF. Today?s final stage included one United Community Bank King of the Mountain climb, over Burnt Mountain. Jason McCartney (USA) of Discovery Channel had enough points from Stage Four and Five to win the United Community Bank King of the Mountain jersey, which he also won in 2004.
The sprinters thrilled spectators at the MAXXIS sprint lines in Cumming and Alpharetta. American ?Fast Freddie? Rodriguez of Davitamon-Lotto wore the MAXXIS Sprint jersey all week and will take it home for keeps. The GE Best Young Rider jersey was awarded to 22-year-old Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia) of Discovery Channel.
?From the turn out of the crowds,