April 16, 2008
Pre-previewing the 2008 Tour de Georgia
The countdown continues to the 2008 edition of the Tour de Georgia. It's great to see the race surviving, even if it has slipped to the 2nd-biggest US stage race, behind the Tour of California.
Second, there's no individual time trial, as it's been dropped in favor of a team time trial to be run as Stage 4 on Thursday on the fairly hilly road course at Braselton's Road Atlanta. It's a TTT, but no funny bikes are allowed, apparently to keep costs and complications down for teams traveling from Europe.
Two stages essentially repeat from last year: Stage 6 starts in Blairsville and runs up Brasstown Bald, which has become the craggy face of the race, and Stage 7 is again a circuit race beginning and ending at Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta. I drove through downtown on Sunday, and there are still signs of the tornado that hit the area around the park on March 14th during the SEC basketball tournament.
For your race planning, Medalist Sports has provided a Tour de Georgia Google Maps file that details KoM lines, bonus sprints and starts and finishes.
If you're in the Southeast, it's a fabulous show, well worth the drive. If somehow you can't make it, SportSouth will provide 30-minute daily race updates at 10:30 p.m. most nights (kicked back as late as 1 a.m. on Friday night/Saturday morning).
As for riders, there are no official start lists yet, but Team CSC has posted their TdG roster, including Jason McCartney, Bobby Julich, Iñigo Cuesta, Bradley McGee, and Juan José Haedo (at left).
Haedo has been the most successful sprinter in the TdG's history, and McCartney has absolutely torn up the hilly bits of two previous TdGs.
Slipstream/Chipotle will probably bring last year's race runner-up Christian Vande Velde, and 7 of Blake Caldwell, Tom Danielson (who himself was a close 2nd to Floyd Landis here in 2006), Timmy Duggan, Lucas Euser, Tyler Farrar, Trent Lowe, Danny Pate, and David Zabriskie.
Full startlists should be up in the next day or two.