Stage 5 underway

Today's the last day for anyone to make a move on Landis' lead in the overall. Phonak defended their lead well yesterday, but today's stage has a category 1 climb near the finish that provides some opportunity for separation. Discovery cracked Landis on a climb in the Tour de Georgia to wrest away the overall lead, but that was a mountaintop finish on the much more difficult Brasstown Bald. The winner of today's stage will have to descend down into Santa Barbara for the win.

The word descent always brings Paolo Savoldelli to mind and Phonak would probably let him get away without much fuss as he's not a threat for the overall. The word breakaway brings to mind Jens Voigt, who seemed to be testing his legs at the end of Stage 4 but came into training camp a little down from shoulder surgery.

As I see it, there's three ways this stage can go down. Either an early break by a non-GC threat gets away and dukes it out for victory (e.g. Savoldelli, Voigt), or CSC and Discovery try to put a ton of pressure on Landis on the final climb to see if they can eek out a minute -- not sure that Julich/Zabriskie/Hincapie have the descending skills for this -- or it all comes together for a sprint finish at the end. I'm leaning towards non-GC threat breakaway, but I certainly haven't been very good at predicting this fun Tour. At the very least I expect to see Levi fly up the final climb to see if he can jump into the KOM jersey by day's end.

related articles: Tour of California 2006
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