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Tour de Georgia Ups the Stakes

I know the west coast-loving cycling media (hey! that's us!) likes to play up the Tour of California as if it were America's top race, but the Tour de Georgia continues to put on the greatest show on (American) Earth, and this year promises to get better. To wit:

  • This is in no way a criticism of the ToC, which is the best possible race in February, but the TdG's April spot means the riders will be going all out.
  • Now comes word (details here) that the course has been revised in rather interesting ways. First, scenic Tybee Island near Savannah will host the first day, making this a true tour of the state. Then, after two typically rolling sprint stages, the TdG will host a 10-mile team time trial on a 2.5-mile closed car track with 12 turns and some small hills per lap. The race will feature two teams at once on the course, a completely bizarre format that should draw huge crowds from nearby Atlanta. The next two stages feature a total of six rated rated climbs, including signature Brasstown Bald, before closing out with a circuit race in downtown Atlanta.
  • As to who those riders will be, the lineup will be tremendous: Astana, High Road, CSC, Gerolsteiner, Slipstream, BMC, Bissel and Jittery Joes. Fewer Pro Tour teams than we saw in Cali last month, but the first three are the ones that actually come to the US to race (sorry Rabo, Saunier Duval, Quick Step...) These early invites went out in February; seven more invites are due out shortly (Rock Racing anyone?).

There's a lot to like here, including fact that the race isn't clouded by sponsorship problems. Expect vengeful Astana to animate the hell out of this race, making for a spectacular week.