How much do you love stage races? The inaugural Tour of Missouri ended yesterday, and some folks out there considered it boring because Hincapie and Discovery had pretty much wrapped up the gc after stage 2. To them I say: "look below the surface and you'll still find some real drama."
Case in point, the battle for the 3rd step on the gc podium. Going into the final stage circuit race, Saunier-Duval's David Canada had that spot with a scant 1 second lead over Dominique Rollin of Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada (KGSN).
The final stage was essentially flat and would likely end in a field sprint. The only way Rollin could move into 3rd was to get bonus time in the intermediate sprints (3, 2, and 1 seconds) or the final. Of course Saunier-Duval, a top Pro Tour team, would be trying hard to keep Canada in 3rd.
Very early in the stage, a three-man break escaped and was being driven by one of David Canada's teammates. His hope, of course, was to keep the break away and eat up the time bonuses. Nobody in the break was in gc contention, so if they stayed away for the bonus sprints, the gc order would not change.
The break quickly got 20-25 seconds and was really motoring before KGSN was able to find the front and begin their chase. But when they did get there, the battle was on!
KGSN got organized with a little over 5 km to the first intermediate bonus sprint, and they had to close down ~20 seconds to a very motivated and strong group of three. It was their responsibility alone, and no other teams needed to help. Plus, if they succeeded in reeling in the break, they still had to deliver Rollin to the sprint in good position. No easy task after such a hard chase!
I watched this scenario live yesterday, thanks to streaming internet video. Perhaps you didn't see it. Well, it's your lucky day because I snagged five minutes worth and embedded it below for you to see. If you want to hear the race radio, and the finish-line announcers (inc. Dave Towle), then you'll need to turn up the volume a bit. Don't forget to turn it back down after! For the SB locals, watch for Cody...
So yeah, KGSN pulled it out. Did you see Cody driving it from within the last km?! So fast that his teammate couldn't make the final turn and had to hop the curb! Freakin' awesome! So Rollin won that sprint but Canada got 2nd. That left them tied on gc. The next two bonus sprints were absorbed by a break but the field was all together for the final. Rollin got 3rd in the field sprint, so with that extra bonus, he moved into 3rd on gc. Very impressive!
Not boring at all!!