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Tour of Virginia - 5th edition
By Staff
Date: 1/27/2007
Tour of Virginia - 5th edition

Tour of Virginia - 5th edition
Fifth edition of the race returns in April to showcase North America's Young Guns in a six day - 7 stage race covering 479 miles through historic colonial Virginia. Race features three Cat. 1 climbs on two Climbers stages one retracing the route of the Tour DuPont on Reeds Gap.

The 2007 Tour of Virginia bicycle stage race is set to run from April 24-29. Now in its fifth year, the Tour of Virginia - formerly Tour of Shenandoah - is already known as a top draw for up-and-coming pro and elite amateur cyclists. The new name and greater geographic footprint of the 2007 event reflect an appeal to larger media markets and greater numbers of spectators. The scenic and challenging terrain, rich history, and friendly people that have shaped the event’s identity will remain as elements of the six-day journey through the heart of central Virginia .

Showcase for "Young Guns"
The Tour of Virginia also retains its predecessor’s role as an international showcase for North America ’s rising stars. Its focus on youth has attracted the attention of international Pro teams looking for an event that offers a chance to observe the leadership potential of younger riders who normally work for more experienced leaders in the hierarchical structure of the cycling team. “More and more pro teams are realizing the value of having a development squad, and we provide the perfect event for these young riders not only to have a taste of being a team leader, but also to get the feeling of a proper road stage race,” explains Matt Butterman, Tour of Virginia Event Director. “We style our race after international events like the Tour de l’Avenir in France, and the Peace Race in eastern Europe; races in which the young riders have their chance to shine,” said Butterman.

The grueling six-day, seven-stage Tour of Virginia offers the perfect introduction to big-time, European-style road racing right here in the southeastern U.S. The following is a short description of each of the stages:

Stage 1: Tuesday morning’s stage 1 is a 5-mile individual time trial at historic Natural Bridge, once owned by Thomas Jefferson. Racers will start individually and race against the clock, and the short distance ensures that most will sustain speeds of over 30mph.

Stage 2: Tuesday evening, the Tour visits the new venue city of Lynchburg for Stage 2, which is an exciting “criterium”, or circuit race, through downtown that features the steep, brick-paved climb up 9th St., before dropping back down to the revitalized James River waterfront district on each of 25 laps of the course.

Stage 3: Wednesday, April 25 features the first of three consecutive long, scenic, and hilly road races that have made the Tour of Virginia legendary amongst cyclists. Leaving from the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, the course meanders through rolling farmlands and along the James River to the first time bonus sprint at Natural Bridge . Skirting the western fringes of the town of Lexington , the route moves westward to the first big challenge of the race: the climb up Warm Springs Mountain, just outside of Clifton Forge. After 7 grueling miles up the serpentine slopes of this Category 1 rated climb, the racers will descend into the new venue city of Covington to conclude what should prove a decisive day of racing.

Stage 4: Thursday’s Stage 4 is the “Queen Stage” of the Tour of Virginia, and any pretender to the overall victory will have to prove himself in this most difficult of all stages. Leaving the town of Hot Springs, in the shadow of the world-famous Homestead Resort, the course threads the beautiful Maury River gorge before tackling the Blue Ridge twice: first at the Category 1 climb of Montebello, then descending into scenic Nelson County and crossing the viciously steep east slope of Reed’s Gap, scene of much drama during the now-defunct Tour DuPont race of the 1990s. From there, the course descends the final few miles to the City of Waynesboro – the original sponsor and venue from the first edition of the Tour of Shenandoah, and the only venue to host all 5 editions of the race.

Stage 5: Friday’s stage 5 departs Waynesboro for nearby Staunton, only 10 miles distant as the crow flies, but the riders will take the long, hard road there, sampling the rolling terrain of the central Shenandoah Valley over a succession of short, steep climbs on a 99-mile route. Historic downtown Staunton, birthplace of Woodrow Wilson, provides a new finish venue for this new stage.

Stage 6: Saturday returns to the flat and fast criterium course in downtown Harrisonburg used in previous editions of the race. This course offers a visual feast for spectators, and the new Saturday date for this race will allow for races for other categories of cyclists - including Women, Junior riders (under 18) and Masters (over 40) - to be added to the schedule to provide a festival-like atmosphere.

Stage 7: Sunday’s Stage 7 is a new course that starts and finishes in the new venue city of Charlottesville . The 100-mile route will take the riders past the University of Virginia - “Mr. Jefferson’s University” - through scenic Albemarle County to the James River at Scottsville, and up past Thomas Jefferson’s home at Monticello. The six-day journey will conclude with 3 laps of a spectator-friendly 3.6-mile finish circuit around Charlottesville ’s Downtown Mall.

With its rigorous mountain terrain, spectacular rural landscape, and historic towns and villages, central Virginia stands on its own as a unique cycling venue. "People will race our event simply because of the terrain, scenery, and the people of Virginia ," said Butterman. In the race director's own words: "There's no better region to host a bicycle race. And as far as the USA ’s rising stars are concerned, there’s no better reason, either."

2007 Tour of Virginia at a glance:
Tuesday April 24:
Stage 1 - Natural Bridge Time Trial 5 miles
Stage 2 - Lynchburg Criterium 25 miles
Wednesday April 25: Stage 3
Bedford to Covington Road Race 108 miles
Thursday April 26: Stage 4
Hot Springs to Waynesboro Road Race 107 miles
Friday April 27: Stage 5
Waynesboro to Staunton Road Race 99 miles
Saturday April 28: Stage 6
Harrisonburg Criterium 35 miles
Sunday April 29: Stage 7
Charlottesville/Albemarle Road Race 100 miles
7 stages - 479 miles

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