Atlanta — Fred Rodriguez capped Rock Racing’s first participation in the Tour de Georgia presented by AT&T with a fourth place finish on the final stage in Atlanta Sunday.
The result by the three-time U.S. national road race champion was Rock Racing’s fourth top five finish of the seven-day, 600-mile stage race. Additionally, Rock Racing’s Oscar Sevilla placed in the top 10 overall, finishing sixth in his first international stage race in the United States.
“This performance speaks to how talented the team can be when it can race at full strength,” Rock Racing Team Owner Michael Ball said. “They just dig deep and work so well together. There are no egos. I couldn’t be prouder of what they pulled off.”
Rock Racing displayed its strength late in the race when it put its entire squad on the front to reel in the remnants of a breakaway that had been away since the first of 10 laps of a 6.2-mile (10.1 km) circuit through the streets of Downtown Atlanta. The chase was successful, setting the stage for a field sprint up the long uphill drag to the finish line.
“The team had asked me coming into the last lap what we had to do and I told them we had to go now, now, now,” Rodriguez said. “We brought it back quickly and fast and it worked perfectly to my strategy.”
In the end, it was Greg Henderson (Team High Road) who scored his second stage win of the week by beating Juan Jose Haedo (CSC), Andrew Pinfold (Symmetrics Cycling Team) and Rodriguez. Henderson’s teammate, Kanstantsin Siutsou, won the race overall by four seconds over Trent Lowe (Team Slipstream-Chipotle powered by H30).
“Thanks to the team, I was there in the finale,” Rodriguez said. “I wasn’t feeling great but I gave it everything I had. I held on for third almost the entire way to the line but lost it in the last 50 meters.”
Rock Racing fans who were among the thousands on hand for the race at Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park were treated to a surprise when the team rolled out for the start in special uniforms. The kits, designed by Ball himself, featured a depiction of Georgia peaches on the jersey and shorts in a blending orange and yellow motif. They commemorated the team’s participation in the longest-running international-level stage race in the United States.
The special “kits” were showcased after the race during Rock Racing’s presentation of a $250,000 donation to the official beneficiaries of the event – Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Georgia Cancer Coalition. Ball presented checks to Eugene Hayes, Foundation President of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and to Bill Todd, President and CEO of the Georgia Cancer Coalition.
The donations will directly benefit pediatric cancer and blood disorders research through the Aflac Cancer Center and Blood Disorders Service, as well as support the Georgia Cancer Coalition’s efforts to strengthen cancer prevention, research and treatment in Georgia, with the ultimate goal of making Georgia one of the nation’s premier states for cancer care.