Category: Tour de Georgia

November 14, 2008

Tour de Georgia to skip a year

Not much of a surprise:

(Atlanta, GA) Following the conclusion of a very successful 2008 Tour de Georgia presented by AT&T, the Board of Directors of the Tour de Georgia Foundation, Inc., announced today their plans for the future of the Tour.

Speaking on behalf of the Foundation's Board of Directors, long time member Tom Saddlemire announced that the Tour de Georgia will not be held in 2009 but will return in 2010. Mr. Saddlemire, newly retired CFO of GE Energy, explained that "with the help of the Lt. Governor, the Tour had its most successful year yet, raising close to $3.2 million in operating expenses and commitments for more than $500,000 in support of cancer research through the Aflac Cancer Center at Children's Healthcare and the Georgia Cancer Coalition. We believe that this unique and exciting event will endure. We have decided to use 2009 as a time to plan ahead and properly position the Tour de Georgia to make the best use of the new partnerships we forged during the 2008 Tour de Georgia Presented by AT&T, such as our relationships with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Road Atlanta. The planning process for the Tour de Georgia requires a tremendous amount of time and effort and we wanted to give all of our partners enough time to plan and allocate their resources to take full advantage of the event. Therefore, we will skip 2009 and the Board will petition USAC and the UCI for the Tour de Georgia's return to the world calendar in 2010."

Craig Lesser, former Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development said that "The Tour de Georgia was initiated by the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade & Tourism (now Georgia Department of Economic Development) in 2003 with a focus on creating a world-class cycling event which fostered significant economic development, tourism and world-wide exposure. We achieved that goal. The Tour de Georgia quickly developed stature, gaining international ranking (by UCI and USA Cycling, Inc.) as a spring tradition in the professional sport of cycling. The Tour de Georgia attracted the best teams in the world and previous champions included such stars as Lance Armstrong, Tom Danielson and Chris Horner. Over the course of six years, the Tour de Georgia has attracted 3.2 million spectators, many of whom traveled to Georgia from out of state, and generated a direct economic impact totaling over $186 million. The 2008 Tour de Georgia, our most successful Tour yet, yielded over $38.6 million in direct economic impact for the State. We have come a long way since 2003."

Chairman of the Board, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle added, "The support we received from our Georgia sponsor corporations, our host cities and the citizens of Georgia was amazing in 2008. Since April, we have had an enormous response from our partners on ways we can strengthen the Tour for the future, and we have been listening. Our host cities want to have time to prepare tourism packages and our health providers are enthusiastic about developing plans to use the Health and Wellness expos to spread their message across the state. Our cycling friends from across the state want to partner with us to create participant activities which are inclusive of the whole family. We have listened to their advice and have decided to skip one year so that the Tour de Georgia can once and for all be ahead of the game in the planning process. This is a decision I feel is wise and one that will strengthen the Tour de Georgia for years to come. I commend our Board for its thoughtfulness in arriving at this decision. We look forward to using 2009 to plan the 2010 Tour and I am committed to playing an active role in that process."

Steve Johnson, CEO of USA Cycling, said that he "was obviously disappointed to learn that the 2009 Tour de Georgia has been cancelled for 2009. However, I am very pleased that the race will return in 2010. Since its inception in 2003, the Tour de Georgia has been an important international stage race featuring some of the top riders in the world. Equally important, it provided the impetus for major stage races in California and Missouri. We look forward to the Tour de Georgia returning in 2010."

The Tour de Georgia Presented by AT&T is North America 's premier professional cycling race. First held in 2003, the Tour de Georgia Presented by AT&T is an international professional sporting event that brings thousands of spectators and cycling enthusiasts to the State of Georgia each Spring . The 2008 Tour de Georgia Presented by AT&T was a six stage race, covering more than 600 miles across the State of Georgia , from the shores of Tybee Island to the mountains of North Georgia, with an exciting circuit finish in the state capitol, Atlanta. Traditionally, professional teams use the Tour de Georgia to prepare their riders for the most challenging tours held in Europe , including the Tour de France. Several teams which rode in the 2008 Tour de Georgia Presented by AT&T also participated in the 2008 Tour de France. Riders such as Christian van de Velde and George Hincapie, who were fierce competitors in the 2008 Tour de Georgia Presented by AT&T, also rode extremely well in the 2008 Tour de France. The climb up Brasstown Bald in the mountains of North Georgia, a favorite of cycling fans and a legendary stage in the professional racing circuit, is considered by professional cyclists to be the most challenging and grueling stage of any race held in North America.

September 8, 2008

Armstrong returns to save Georgia?

Well, not really, but he might return, and it could save Georgia. Given that the race was informally known and popularized as Armstrong's Tour de France preparation, it seems only fitting. It would definitely turn the Tour of California into an absolute circus as well -- something I'm actually not looking forward to.

The rumor has been swirling for awhile and was given greater credence when Dirk Demol returned to Astana. It's unclear what the motivation here is -- is Armstrong mad enough at the TdF organizers for excluding Astana? Is he a little too bored on the MTB circuit? Who knows, though I do feel a little bad for the other Astana riders knowing that they will have a different spotlight shining on them.

September 6, 2008

Tour de Georgia Farewell?

Siutsou Conquers Brasstown Bald - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

The unofficial rumor at this year's Tour de Georgia was that it was to be the last. In fact, it was that unofficial rumor that was part of my impetus for choosing to shot it instead of the Tour of Missouri. Although this year's event was great and contained fun new additions like a team time trial on race track -- please add this to the Tour of California! -- it was clear that the money was not there like it was for the Tour of California and Missouri.

CyclingNews has promoted this rumor to more official status. Funding is not there for the race and attendance has not been able to survive the post-Armstrong effect. It could either be postponed or scraped altogether. To throw in some more unofficial rumors, a lot of people have been saying that the scrapping of the Tour de Georgia will give the Tour of California more room to spread its wings -- a later date on the calendar could open access to California's more majestic mountain scenery, which is usually too snow-covered in February.

April 27, 2008

Stage 7: Two Stages for Henderson, Two Jerseys for High Road

Greg Henderson Gets His Second Win - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Atlanta - (c) Ken Conley

High Road - (c) Ken Conley Breakaway - (c) Ken Conley Tom Danielson - (c) Ken Conley jerseys - (c) Ken Conley Chechu Rubiera - (c) Ken Conley

Tour de Georgia Stage 7 Photo Gallery (in progress)

The final stage in Atlanta was a rugged urban stage with plenty of potholes to send riders off the back in search of new wheels. The field let a break of 12 get away, including Tom Danielson and Rhys Pollock, but High Road, with Big George Hincapie at the front, kept the lead manageable throughout the ten laps. Rock Racing, despite having already lost a couple of riders on the course, worked to bring back the break going into the final laps, but the day was meant to be all High Road: Greg Henderson beat out JJ Haedo on the uphill sprint as High Road successfully defended its overall and sprint jersey. Jason McCartney's KOM jersey was already sewn up for CSC yesterday, and the sprint finish meant that Trent Lowe's lead in the young rider competition was never threatened. Astana had to settle for the Best Team award, which is a great accomplishment, but probably much less than they had hoped for. The Overall Most Aggressive Rider went to Rory Sutherland, the big Health Net rider who showed off climbing legs as well as a daring attack on Stage 3.

Tour de Georgia Stage 7 Photo Gallery (in progress)

April 26, 2008

Stage 6: Kanstantin Siutsou Shocks Brasstown Bald; Siutsou Riot

Siutsou Conquers Brasstown Bald - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Siutsou Conquers Brasstown Bald - (c) Ken Conley

Siutsou Conquers Brasstown Bald - (c) Ken Conley Siutsou Conquers Brasstown Bald - (c) Ken Conley Kanstantin Siutsou - (c) Ken Conley Kanstantin Siutsou - (c) Ken Conley

Tour de Georgia 2007 Stage 6 Photo Gallery

Kanstantin Siutsou shocked all the Tour de Georgia pundits by winning Brasstown Bald and moving into the Tour de Georgia lead. While everyone's GC eyes were focused on the battle between Trent Lowe and Levi Leipheimer just behind, Siutsou managed to put 10 seconds on the two. With the GC separated by very few seconds due to the close TTT finishing times, this was just enough to put High Road into the yellow jersey. Siutsou came so far out of nowhere that reporters had to ask Bob Stapleton afterwards how to pronounce his name.

High Road's Tour de Georgia has now gone from good to excellent, with both the overall and sprint lead, as well as two stage victories. They will be focused on a defending both tomorrow along Atlanta's circuit.

Stage 6 was full of surprises. No one predicted that Trent Lowe would be duking it out it Levi for the overall, nor did they predict that Lowe would actually beat Levi. Who would have though that Astana would be shutout at an American Tour without even a stage win, after having won all Tour of California/Georgia/Missouris since Landis took the 2006 Tour de Georgia. There's still hope for tomorrow, but they'll have to play a perfect hand to take 14 seconds.

Trent Lowe Shadows Levi Leipheimer - (c) Ken Conley Trent Lowe Shadows Levi Leipheimer - (c) Ken Conley

Big things were expected of Tom Danielson, but he finished nearly 12 minutes back, smiling as he climbed. Photos show him and Zabriskie doing work at the front of the peloton to reel in the break, so I guess Slipstream put all their hopes on Lowe -- and he would have delivered, if anyone had known anything about Siutsou.

Tom Danielson - (c) Ken Conley

Then there's Team Type 1, which finished two riders in the top ten up Brasstown -- as many as any other team. Jittery Joe's found success with Neil Shirley, who hung with a break of Svein Tuft, Jason McCartney, and Andrey Mizurov to take the Most Aggressive Award.

Team Type 1 - (c) Ken Conley Jason McCartney - (c) Ken Conley Neil Shirley - (c) Ken Conley

Tour de Georgia 2007 Stage 6 Photo Gallery

April 23, 2008

Stage 3: Henderson wins crazy downhill sprint, High Road 1-2

Henderson Wins the Sprint - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Tour de Georgia Stage 3 Photo Gallery

High Road took control of the peloton as it arrived in Gainesville and kept that control until the end. Andre Greipel lead Greg Henderson out at the start of the downhill and no one could challenge as the peloton reached blistering 50+mph speeds. Greipel was able to coast into second as Henderson managed a very quick arms raised salute before having to regain control of his bike. George Hincapie raised his arms in salute as well, having protected Henderson though the finishing circuit.

With the exception of the KOM jersey, which is firmly in the hands of Frank Pipp until the peloton sees another climb, there was a major reshuffling of the jerseys. Greg Henderson jumped into the top spot after Ivan Dominguez had major trouble staying attached to the peloton. I'm not sure what happened, but there were a lot of Toyota United riders off the back. Greg Henderson also got take the sprinter jersey that had been on loan from Ivan Dominguez. Tyler Farrar's third-place sprint broke the tie in the best young rider competition. He also moved into second place in the sprint classification.

Greg Henderson - (c) Ken Conley Greg Henderson - (c) Ken Conley Greg Henderson - (c) Ken Conley

Sutherland Soloes into Red - (c) Ken ConleyIt was breakaway central on the undulating circuit as Rory Sutherland was first to get separation on the peloton. His daring effort earned him the Most Aggressive Jersey award. Oscar Sevilla also repeated his breakaway attempt from yesterday and managed to jump past Sutherland, but was unable to hold off the lineup for the sprint.

An earlier, four-man breakaway of Scott Zwizanski, Frank Pipp, Rhys Pollock and Moises Aldape was able to get separation on the field after a crash in the peloton took out Slipstream's Tim Duggan. Frank Pipp used the break to gather up two of the three intermediate sprints while Pollock flew his Most Aggressive jersey.

Danielsville - (c) Ken Conley Breakaway - (c) Ken Conley

Tour de Georgia Stage 3 Photo Gallery

April 22, 2008

Stage 2: A Close Victory for Haedo

JJ Haedo Sprints to Victory - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Statesboro Start - (c) Ken Conley Millen Sprint - (c) Ken Conley

Tour de Georgia Stage 2 Photo Gallery

JJ Haedo sprinted right through the middle of the pack to take a close, close victory of High Road's Greg Henderson. A bandaged hand from a recent break seemed to be no impediment to Haedo, who is a familiar rider atop the podium at the Tour de Georgia. Ivan Dominguez put in a good effort to take third and protect his leader's jersey. Despite talking about how heavy the yellow jersey is, his Toyota United team has done a good job of holding onto it. Justin England spent a lot of time off the front in a breakaway that kept the other teams working and Toyota United rested. In a bit of a surprise, England didn't get the Most Aggressive Award, and instead it went to Marco Polo rider Pollock, who bridged up to England.

Slipstream put in a lot of work for young rider Tyler Farrar. Farrar took the first intermediate sprint to make up for his stage 1 deficit (due to a flat), but Haedo, Henderson, and Dominguez controlled the sprint today.

The best move of the day probably goes to Health Net's Frank Pipp. With no KOMs tomorrow, or Stage 4's TTT, Health Net gets to fly the KOM jersey for three straight stages -- all for a puny Cat 4 on the South Carolina side of the river.

Tour de Georgia Stage 2 Photo Gallery

April 21, 2008

Dominguez takes Stage 1

Dominguez Wins - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley
Tybee Lighthouse - (c) Ken Conley
Photo by Ken Conley

Stage 1 Photos

With his baby due any moment, Ivan Dominguez must have decided that getting a stage win early was important. Dominique Rollin set him up well for the sprint and Dominguez's jump was well-timed -- despite not being able to see the finish line until 100m to go. Dominguez now has the overall lead at the Tour de Georgia, but he noted that "it's heavy" and that he'd prefer one in green. His teammate Stevic was already out on the road today trying to sweep up as many sprint points as he could to protect Dominguez.

In an odd break during the day, Danielson, Julich, and Horner jumped off the front. Julich and Horner are easy to understand as they haven't been tapped as team leaders, but Danielson's jump either means his lieutenants failed to cover or that that he isn't their leader... or maybe he was just having fun. Either way, the break didn't hold and Nydam, Meier, Van Ulden,and Pipp had the honor of being the last break on the road. Nydam's effort put him in the familiar position of donning the Most Aggressive Rider jersey at the end of the day.

Today's stage was beautiful, brief, and flat. Chris Baldwin joked with a CSC rider before the stage that the route was a criterium. The KOM jersey won't be donned until tomorrow after riders are sent over a small climb on the finishing 5 mile circuit.

Stage 1 Photos

January 1, 2007

Tour de Georgia Coverage

Tour de Georgia 2006: Landis dominates the US scene and holds off Danielson

Tour de Georgia 2007: A long break gets Brajkovic the overall

Tour de Georgia 2008