Robert Hunter added America to the now impressive tally of continents which have served up victories for him when he outsprinted a strong field in the first stage of the Tour of Georgia on Monday.
He has won in Asia, Africa, Europe, Australasia and now in America, and he holds the overall lead in the Tour of Georgia, which boasts a strong field that includes six time Tour de France winner, Lance Armstrong.
Hunter has now claimed four wins thus far in 2005, and all of them have been in bunch sprints! He is certainly riding quicker than ever and the support of his Phonak team in the sprints is making a significant difference.
"I was on the wheel of one of the Gerolsteiner guys, and in the final corner I got onto Elia Aggiano, who was trying to pull the sprint for his teams speedster," Hunter said about the lead-up to the sprint.
"The circuit was really hard with the small cobbled climb putting the peloton into difficulty. A lot of riders lost it there, and the last few kilometers were chaos with nobody really pulling the sprint back. Positioning was crucial in the last two corners."
Besides the sprint, the other decisive moment for Hunter was on the cobbled climb. "We spoke to some of the local riders before the stage who told us that it wasn’t a cobbled climb in the real sense, but more bricks. That made it somewhat easier to ride than the usual cobbled roads, so I fought to get up there. The descent was just as hard because everyone was on the limit, but it didn’t play as much of a factor. It was fast and nobody can come around on the decent."
Ben Brooks (Jelly Belly/Pool Gel) came over the line second ahead of Italians Michele Maccanti and Danilo Napolitano, both of the Switzerland-based Team L.P.R.
Armstrong, who announced on Monday that he would be retiring after this years Tour de France, finished safely in 15th spot.
1 Robert Hunter (RSA) Phonak Hearing Systems 5.47.52
2 Benjamin Brooks (Aus) Jelly Belly - Pool Gel
3 Michele Maccanti (Ita) Team L.P.R.
4 Danilo Napolitano (Ita) Team L.P.R.
5 Gregory Henderson (NZl) Health Net pb Maxxis
6 David Canada Gracia (Spa) Prodir - Saunier Duval
7 Caleb Manion (Aus) Jelly Belly - Pool Gel
8 Bobby Julich (USA) Team CSC
9 Aurélien Clerc (Swi) Phonak Hearing Systems
10 René Haselbacher (Aut) Gerolsteiner
11 Mauro Santambrogio (Ita) Team L.P.R.
12 Geoff Kabush (Can) Jittery Joe’s - Kalahari
13 Christopher Baldwin (USA) Navigators Insurance
14 Glen Mitchell (NZl) Kodak Gallery - Sierra Nevada
15 Lance Armstrong (USA) Discovery Channel
16 Floyd Landis (USA) Phonak Hearing Systems
17 Levi Leipheimer (USA) Gerolsteiner
18 Kirk Albers (USA) Jelly Belly - Pool Gel
19 Mark Walters (Can) Navigators Insurance
20 Elia Aggiano (Ita) Team L.P.R.