Georgia stage 1: Hunter bags the win

Phonak's Robert Hunter proved that he was more than just the best sprinter on paper at the Dodge Tou

Phonak's Robert Hunter proved that he was more than just the best sprinter on paper at the Dodge Tou
PIC BY TDWSPORT.COM At the 2004 Dodge Tour de Georgia it was Mario Cipollini thrilling the American crowds with his sprinting duels against the best domestic-based sprinter Gord Fraser, but one year on, it was all change. While Cipollini stayed at home this year, Fraser was there again, but stomach problems put him out of contesting the stage win as he dropped behind on the three finishing circuits in the town of Macon. Instead, it was his Health Net-Maxxis team-mate Greg Henderson who took on the team's sprinting duties, although he could only manage fifth on the stage behind winner Robert Hunter (Phonak). Hunter came to Georgia having already won the Doha International GP and stages at both the Tour of the Mediterranean and Setmana Catalana this season, and so was always going to be the man to watch. The South African showed his class by easily winning the bunch sprint ahead of Ben Brooks (Jelly Belly-Pool Gel) and Michele Maccanti (LPR). But the day's hero for the strong, enthusiastic crowds was TIAA-CREF's Dan Bowman who broke away just 15km into the day's 207km stage, building a lead of more than 12 minutes while the peloton enjoyed the hot weather, rolling along at times at well under 20kph. Hunter's winning average speed was just 35.7kph. The speed wasn't picked up until Bowman was in sight, caught with 30km left to race, and then unceremoniously dropped on the second of the finishing circuits. The young American had done enough, however, to take both the points jersey thanks to having taken all three of the day's intermediate sprints and the jersey of most aggressive rider. Lance Armstrong (Discovery Channel) kept himself out of trouble all day, cheered on by the many roadside fans, finishing in the main field in 15th place. Hunter will wear yellow on Wednesday's 197.5km second stage between Fayetteville and Rome, which should again prove to be one for the sprinters. And Fraser will be hoping he's feeling better. Stage 1, Augusta - Macon 1 Robert Hunter (SA) Phonak 207.4km in 5.47.52 2 Ben Brooks (Aus) Jelly Belly-Pool Gel 3 Michele Maccanti (Ita) LPR 4 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) LPR 5 Greg Henderson (NZ) Health Net-Maxxis 15 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel Overall 1 Robert Hunter (SA) Phonak 5.47.52 2 Ben Brooks (Aus) Jelly Belly-Pool Gel 0.04 3 Michele Maccanti (Ita) LPR 0.06 4 Greg Henderson (NZ) Health Net-Maxxis 5 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) LPR 0.08 15 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel 0.10
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