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August 29, 2008

Stars and Stripes on offer this weekend in Greenville

Zabriskie hammersThe 2008 US Pro Cycling championships are this weekend in Greenville, and organizers have made a few changes I think will improve the fan experience. I've been to each of the Greenville championships, and had a great time at each -- if you're in the Southeast or mid-Atlantic, you should definitely consider the drive.

In 2005, the time trial championship (Dave Zabriskie's first title) was run on Friday, with the road race on Sunday. This had the advantage of a rest day between hard efforts for the riders, but the Friday TT drew crowds on par with a neighborhood swim meet.

Last year, organizers switched to a Saturday/Sunday alignment, which is probably best for fans (I might argue for Saturday/Monday, which would fill more Greenville hotel rooms and give riders trying to double a rest day). The TT course was a modified point-to-point, so there were only a few points on the course where you could see riders more than once. Additionally, access to the finish line was somewhat controlled by the community that hosted the finish, which ran satellite parking with shuttle buses to the finish.

This year, time trial action moves to Clemson University's International Center for Automotive Research, where the 20.7-mile course is 3 laps of 6.9 miles. Because of looping and turnarounds, there will be spots on the course where you'll be able to see each rider 6 times, and parking and course access are reportedly far more open.

For Sunday's road race, organizers didn't monkey much with a successful formula, again bridging early and late laps of downtown Greenville with 4 longer loops that include the race-making climb of Paris Mountain.

Shirley, Leipheimer, HincapieUnfortunately, defending US champ Levi Leipheimer (left, with '07 2nd place Hincapie and 3rd place Neil Shirley) will be across the pond, racing in the Vuelta with Astana. Almost all the other usual suspects are penciled in: Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Christian Vande Velde, Fred Rodriguez, Tyler Hamilton, Tom Danielson, Danny Pate, and more, more, more. Two notable exceptions are Chris Horner and Bobby Julich.

I'll be there, as will Byron from Bike Hugger, Briggs from Euro Peloton and James from Bicycle Design. We're planning a meetup at Barley's Taproom Saturday at 5.

Look for live-blogging here and on Twitter, and for photos through the weekend in my Flickr photostream.

Also:

VeloNews.com | US Pro start lists

Time Trial course map (PDF version) | Road Race course map(PDF version)

Podium Cafe | Preview: USA Cycling Pro Championship

The PdC preview is intensely entertaining -- don't miss it.

podium in sight | US Pro Preview

Posted by Frank Steele on August 29, 2008 in 2008 USA Cycling Pro Championships, Bobby Julich, Chris Horner, Christian Vande Velde, Danny Pate, Dave Zabriskie, Fred Rodriguez, George Hincapie, Tom Danielson, Tyler Freaking Hamilton | Permalink

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