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Tour de Georgia Preview
By Jaime Nichols
Date: 4/21/2003
Tour de Georgia Preview

The Dodge Tour de Georgia kicks off on Tuesday, April 22, and gives the US it first major stage race since the Tour du Pont. The more than 600-mile race begins in Savannah’s downtown squares and parks and continues on a course through the state that Georgia governor Sonny Perdue says will "showcase Georgia's diverse natural beauty" and host local festivals and events.

“This race will not only test the skills and strength of some of the best professional cyclists in the world, it will showcase the beauty of Georgia’s landscape,” said Stan Holm, executive director. “From the coast to the mountains to downtown Atlanta, Dodge Tour de Georgia will display the best the state has to offer.”

The Tour de Georgia is sanctioned by the Union Cycliste Internationale and USA Cycling, receiving a 2.3 ranking, the highest ranking classification for a first-year event. Dodge Tour de Georgia is the only stage race of this length in the U.S. that is sanctioned by the UCI for 2003, and one of only five races in the U.S. on the official UCI calendar.

The six-day stage race is expected to draw an estimated 1 million spectators and 50 million television viewers in the U.S., while generating a projected $30 million in economic development for Georgia over five years. Proceeds from the tour will benefit the Georgia Cancer Coalition's efforts in creating awareness in the state's fight against Cancer.

The race organizers and the state are dedicated to making the Dodge Tour de Georgia the premiere North American stage race, and it looks like all the ingredients are assembled. The course offers challenges to every kind of racer, and the American peloton has responded by sending the best, and all of the usual suspects are here.

US races thus far has been a one-sided affair, with Saturn's troika of Chris Horner, Nathan O'Neill and Tom Danielson driving a hard pace to follow, but Saturn's wrecking crew will meet some stiff competition here. The Navigators have returned from their European field trip with their A-team: Ghent-Wevelgem's runner-up and all-around superstar Henk Vogels, along with a tough crew of hardmen and fast finishers including Chris Wherry, Ciaran Power, Oleg Grischkine, and Vassili Davidenko. They should give Saturn a run for their money.

US Postal is here with the same crew that rode Sea Otter last week; Zabriskie came closest to Saturn's three at the last round up, and he should go well here. Floyd Landis is strutting a nice limp, but says he's coming along, and Postal has added MTB World Champion Roland Green to the roster for this race, as well. Postal's riders sometimes suffer a tough international schedule, but these guys have been in the US for awhile and should be rested and ready to rumble.

Prime Alliance jumps once more into the fray. They've been the strongest US team not wearing yellow, with Jonathan Vaughters riding consistently and well, and Mike Creed and Matt DeCanio taking stage wins in Sea Otter. David Clinger has been tough in the uphill sprint, and Danny Pate is always a force to be reckoned with. Prime Alliance has been riding hard to crack the Saturn nut, but despite valiant efforts and a few stage wins, that overall victory has eluded them thus far, and they are sure to be hungry for it.

Also ready for a piece of the glory are all of the smaller teams. 7-Up-Maxxis is always underestimated, and never out of the action. Schroeder Iron antes up with Georgia native and current USPRO Champion Chann McRae who says he was "born ready" for this race, and a new director in Frankie Andreu, who should inspire the team to ride to a new level. Sierra Nevada, Webcor, Jelly Belly and Ofoto-Lombardi Sports all have good strong racers who will leave it all on the road.

Of the 18 teams competing in the inaugural Tour de Georgia, five are European-based: Sidermec, with former USPRO Champion Freddy Rodriguez, Rabobank and the Dutch National Team, both with good rosters, Formaggi Pinzolo, and Flanders-iTeamNova, with a cast of Australian all-stars like the ever-popular David McKenzie, Trent Wilson and Allan Iacuone, all strong stage racers.

It's a new course, and a first year event, so no one has an advantage on the course, and with such a deep field, we should see some thrills.

The Stages:

Prologue – Savannah Individual Time Trial

Begins at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, April 22 in Savannah’s historic downtown, individual cyclists will race against the clock on a 2.6-mile course through downtown Savannah on a technical course that will favor the strong and good bike handling skills. Saturn looks good for this one, with Nathan O'Neill time-trialling as well as anyone right now. Prologue time trials have decided US races in recent months with Saturn's three passing the crown of laurels from man to man. Asked whom they are riding for this time around, Horner says "after the prologue it dictates itself."

Saturn's bad boys: Danielson, O'Neill, Horner
Stage 1 – Augusta to Macon

John Lieswyn
Beginning at 10 a.m. on Wednesday, April 23 on Broad Street in Augusta, the 136-mile stage has three official sprint lines – in Harlem, Warrenton and Milledgeville, and three KOM's on each of the finishing circuits up Coleman Hill in Macon. It's a long haul, and that alone should give us some attrition heading into the finish. With such a strong field, heading into the finish, I'd look for a tough and crafty racer with a strong finish. Henk Vogels could do well here, as could Sidermec's Freddy Rodriguez (if he can make a quick recovery from his Amstel Gold and a demanding International travel schedule), or Saturn's Charles Dionne; but look out for tenacious contenders from smaller teams like 7-Up-Maxxis' John Lieswyn,

Stage 2 – Macon to Columbus

Stage two begins at the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame. The 124-mile stage has two sprint lines – in Thomaston and Warm Springs, and a KOM at Warm Springs as well. It's a long roller, and the distance alone should be a challenge, but the strong will stay together until the climb, and may come back together after it, as there is a long descent and plenty of time for stragglers on the hill to catch back on for the finish at the Columbus Civic Center.

Stage 3 – Callaway/Pine Mountain to Rome

Stage 3 ups the ante on the climbs with a tougher course. This is a good day for a breakaway effort. The 138-mile stage has two sprint lines – in LaGrange and Cedartown, and four KOMs; two out on the road at Tally Mountain and Booze Mountain, and two on the Finishing circuit at Tower Hill in Rome. It's a stage for a strong all-rounder like Navigator's Chris Wherry, or Flanders-iTeamNova's Australian all-stars.

Stage 4 – Dalton to Gainesville

Stage four is the Queen stage. Beginning on Hamilton Street in downtown Dalton, the 122-mile stage includes two sprint lines – in Chatsworth and Ellijay. This stage also includes two King of the Mountain sections – Fort Mountain State Park with an elevation of 2,842 feet, and Woody Gap with an elevation of 3,184 feet. It's going to be a tough one, and we'll see the climbers shine here. Saturn's Tom Danielson is an obvious favorite, as is Prime Alliance's Jonathan Vaughters, and two time MTB World Champion Roland Green should have a thing or two to say about the outcome. Those are the big guns, but guys like Schroeder Iron's Canadian hardman Jacob Erker should sneak in as well.

Stage 5 – Atlanta Circuit Race

Stage five is dead flat. Riders will make nine 9.8-mile laps through downtown Atlanta. It's a day for the toughest sprinters. Schroeder Iron's Miguel Meza is a favorite, Freddy Rodriguez has a quick finish, Saturn's Charles Dionne, 7-Up-Maxxis Greg Henderson. Navigators has the toughest sprinting combination here, though, with Russian rocket Vassili Davidenko, Oleg Grischkine and Henk Vogels.

Tour de Georgia Rider List

1 Floyd Landis, USA
2 Michael Barry, CAN
3 Antonio Cruz, USA
4 Damon Kluck, USA
5 Kenny Labbé, USA
6 Robbie Ventura, USA
7 David Zabriskie, USA
8 Roland Green, CAN
D.S. Lorenzo Lapage

10 Maarten den Bakker, NED
11 Kevin de Weert, BEL
12 Mathew Hayman, AUS
13 Remmert Wielinga, NED
14 Grischa Niermann, GER
15 Bobbie Traksel, NED
16 Thorwald Veneberg, NED
17 Ronald Mutsaars, NED
D.S. Frans Maassen

20 Fred Rodriguez, USA
21 David De La Fuente, ESP
22 Andrea Masciarelli, ITA
23 Mauro Gerosa, ITA
24 Gabrielle Balducci, ITA
25 Mauro Radelli, ITA
26 Marco Gili, ITA
D.S. Vittorio Algeri

30 Vassili Davidenko, RUS
31 Chris Baldwin, USA
32 Siro Camponogara, ITA
33 Oleg Grishkine, RUS
34 Ciaran Power, IRL
35 Jeff Louder, USA
36 Henk Vogels, AUS
37 Chris Wherry, USA
D.S. Ray Cipolini/Ed Beamon

40 Massimiliano Mori, ITA
41 Uros Murn, SLO
42 Moreno DiBiase. ITA
43 Massimo Amichetti, ITA
44 Matteo Cappè, ITA
45 Antonio Rizzi, ITA
46 Markus Wimmer, AUT
47 Massimilliano Amichetti, ITA
D.S. G. Pierdomenico

50 David McKenzie, AUS
51 Jamie Drew, AUS
52 Scott Guyton, NZL
53 Allan Iacuone, AUS
54 Dominique Perras, CAN
55 Trent Wilson, AUS
56 Heiko Szonn, GER
57 Jurgen Landrie, BEL
D.S. Franky van Haesebroucke

60 Tom Danielson, USA
61 Charles Dionne, CAN
62 Chris Horner, USA
63 Tim Johnson, USA
64 Nathan O'Neill, AUS
65 Mark McCormack, USA
66 Eric Wohlberg, CAN
67 Phil Zajicek, USA
D.S. Andrzej Bek

70 John Lieswyn,USA
71 Greg Henderson, NZL
72 Brice Jones, USA
73 Jason McCartney, USA
74 Kevin Monahan, USA
75 Chris Pic, USA
76 Oscar Piñeda, GUA
77 Doug Ziewacz, USA
D.S. Jeff Corbett

80 Chann McRae, USA
81 Jason Bausch, USA
82 Jacob Erker, USA
83 Dane Jankowiak, AUS
84 Peter Knudsen, USA
84 Adam Livingston, USA
86 Aaron Olson, USA
87 Miguel Meza, MEX
D.S. Frank Schroeder

90 Jonathan Vaughters, USA
91 Alex Candelario, USA
92 David Clinger, USA
93 Matt DeCanio, USA
94 Jonathan Page, USA
95 Danny Pate, USA
96 John Peters, USA
97 Svein Tuft, CAN
D.S. Kirk Willett

100 Ben Brooks, USA
101 Brent Dawson, AUS
102 Kirk Albers, USA
103 Remi McManus, USA
104 Mark Fitzgerald, USA
105 Chris Fisher, USA
106 Brian Forbes, USA
107 Mariano Friedick, USA
D.S. Danny Van Haute

110 Erik Saunders, USA
111 Tim Larkin, USA
112 Andrew Bajadali, USA
113 Roman Peter. SUI
114 David O'Loughlin, IRL
115 Russell Hamby, USA
116 Jackson Stewart, USA
117 Peter Lopinto, USA
D.S. Robin Zellner

120 Chad Hartley, USA
121 Drew Deters, USA
122 Kurt Garin, USA
123 César Grajales, COL
124 Jeff Hopkins, USA
125 Jesse Lawler, USA
126 Jake Rosenbarger, USA
127 Jonny Sundt, USA
D.S. Micah Rice

183 Adham Sbeih, USA
131 Ben Jacques-Maynes, USA
132 Todd Littlehales, USA
133 Daniel Ramsey, USA
134 Troy White, USA
135 Nieko Biskner, USA
136 Sterling Magnell, USA
137 David Fuentes, USA
D.S. Mike Neel

140 Sebastian Alexandre, ARG
141 Shawn Willard, USA
142 Tyler Wren, USA
143 Mike Luther, USA
144 Greg Wolf, USA
145 Karl Bordine, USA
146 Nathan Russell, USA
147 Gustavo Artacho, ARG
D.S. A. Wei

150 Jeff Angermann, USA
151 Dario Falquier, USA
152 Marc Hagenlocher, USA
153 Ted Huang, USA
154 John Kelly, USA
155 James Mattis, USA
156 Lionel Syne, BEL
157 Dave Wyandt, USA
D.S. Frank Scioscia

160 Scottie Weiss, USA
161 Michael Jones, USA
162 Wes Seigler, USA
163 Ben Sharp, USA
164 Jon Hamblen, USA
165 Conner Hurley, USA
166 Jacob Fetty, USA
167 Dave Wenger, USA
D.S. Craig Slaughter/ Greg Cook

170 Wouters Mol,NED
171 Floris Goesinnen, NED
172 Farnoud Van Groen, NED
173 Dirk Peetoom, NED
174 Laurens ten Dam, NED
175 Marcel Duyn, NED
176 Vincent Van Rijn, NED
177 Jos Pronk, NED
D.S. A. Visbeek

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