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August 16, 2009

US “second season” ready to kick off

The UCI-level US race calendar is dominated by races in the spring (the Tour of California and formerly the Tour de Georgia) and the fall. With Labor Day approaching, it's time for some racing.

The second season flag drops on Tuesday with the 6-stage Tour of Utah. Billing itself as “America's Toughest Stage Race,” Utah's tour will have mostly UCI Continental teams, including Floyd Landis and the OUCH Pro Cycling Team, Freddie Rodriguez, Ivan Dominguez, and Oscar Sevilla for Rock Racing, Phil Zajicek and Ben Day for Fly V, and Ben Jacques-Maynes and Tom Zirbel for Bissell Pro.

BMC Racing is the lone UCI Pro Continental squad in the race, featuring Jeff Louder, Brent Bookwalter, Jackson Stewart, and Ian McKissick. Also racing, in a solo effort, will be Utah's own Dave Zabriskie of Team Garmin-Slipstream.

What fraction of a second?In two weeks, most of the top American riders will gather in Greenville, SC, for the USA Cycling Pro Championships weekend. If you're in the southeast and you love bike racing, this is a fantastic event. There's an extremely fan-friendly time trial course raced on Saturday, and a challenging road course on Sunday that shows off both Greenville's downtown and the local geography, with Paris Mountain traditionally winnowing the field dramatically on each of the race's laps.

As far as I know, there are no rider confirmations for Greenville yet, but I would be surprised if Zabriskie doesn't defend his 3 consecutive TT titles, and if his Garmin-Slipstream doesn't bring a formidable squad after being denied the title by Tyler Hamilton (above) last year. Also, we're planning a Tweetup for Saturday afternoon in Greenville, details to come via Twitter.

Finally, kicking off on September 7, with the most star-studded field, is the Tour of Missouri. Two of the 2009 Tour de France's overall jersey winners, Mark Cavendish and Franco Pellizotti, will take the start, alongside ProTour rosters from Saxo Bank, Liquigas, Astana, Quick Step, Cervelo Test Team, Team Columbia-HTC, and Garmin-Slipstream. Astana's Levi Leipheimer is expected to return from his Tour wrist injury for the Tour of Missouri, and Saxo Bank's Jens Voigt suggested on the team website he may also make his return in Missouri.

If you're within driving distance of any of these races, you should check them out.

Posted by Frank Steele on August 16, 2009 | Permalink

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