April 20, 2006 — American Floyd Landis of Phonak Hearing Systems repeated as the winner of the Individual Time Trial at the Ford Tour de Georgia, which he won in 2005. He was followed by Americans Tom Danielson (Discovery Channel) and David Zabriskie (Team CSC) in second and third position, respectively, with Danielson, a close four seconds behind and Zabriskie 24 seconds back.
Stage Three challenged the riders with a new 24.8/ 39.9 km time trial course that began in Chickamauga, Ga. and crossed the summit of Lookout Mountain, dropping into Chattanooga for a scenic finish along the Tennessee River. Landis and Zabriskie finished one-two in 2005 at the time trial in Rome; Danielson improved his position from 7th in 2005 to a podium finish.
“It was very difficult; there were hard climbs in the middle. I made a mistake and didn’t take a small enough gear. I kind of paid for it, but I got through it. I think I started a little bit too hard. I should have gone easier in the climb, but I didn’t have a choice,” said Landis, who now wears the Ford Overall Leader jersey heading into the mountains for Friday’s Stage Four. His parents were in attendance in Chattanooga for the ceremony.
“Ford Tour de Georgia raises significant impact to a community, and to a state. This is the first time, in Stage Three, we are going out of the state. This not only benefits northwest Georgia, but also southeast Tennessee,” said Georgia Senator Jeff Mullis, chairman of the Senate Economic Development and Tourism Committee. He watched the race from both his hometown of Chickamauga and at the finish in Chattanooga. “This is a huge impact on a small community like this.”
Twenty-two-year-old Janez Brajkovic (Slovenia) of Discovery Channel placed 8th overall in the time trial and takes over as the GE Best Young Rider in the Ford Tour de Georgia. There were no changes in other jersey classifications: Alejandro Acton (Argentina) of TARGETRAINING retains the Aaron’s Most Aggressive Leader jersey, Kirk O’Bee (USA) of Health Net presented by MAXXIS keeps the United Community Bank King of the Mountain leader jersey and Fred Rodriguez (USA) of Davitamon-Lotto continues to wear the MAXXIS Sprint Leader jersey for the third day.
Stage Four covers familiar territory from Dalton to Dahlonega, 118.9 miles/ 191.4 km. The peloton will encounter two Maxxis Sprint lines (Chatsworth and Ellijay) and four United Community Bank King of the Mountain climbs (Fort Mountain, Hicks Gap, Wolf Pen Gap and Woody Gap). The race begins at 10:30 a.m. on Hamilton Street in Dalton, with one neutral lap in downtown. The uphill finish in Dahlonega, going past the Gold Museum and the city’s annual Bear On The Square festival, is expected between 3:00-4:00 p.m.
The start of Stage Four will be marked by all of the professional cyclists placing green tape on their handlebars to recognize fellow professional Saul Raisin. The 23-year-old Credit Agricole cyclist is from Dalton, Georgia and was severely injured in a crash at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France earlier this month. He remains in France recovering from his injuries. The green tape represents the team color for his Credit Agricole team. Raisin won the GE Best Young Rider jersey at the Tour de Georgia in 2003.
1. LANDIS, Floyd 54.14.49″
2 DANIELSON, Tom 54.18.24″
3. ZABRISKIE, David 54.38.40″
4. O’NEILL, Nathan 55.09.49″
5. GUTIERREZ, Jose Enrique 55.36.72″
6. MCCARTNEY, Jason 55.52.23″
7. BALDWIN, Chris 55.55.40″
8. BRAJKOVIC, Janez 56.06.20″
9. POPOVYCH, Yaroslav 56.07.33″
10. PINOTTI, Marco 56.10.45″