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Mont Ventoux
Photo ©: Sirotti

First Edition Cycling News for February 6, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Tour de Georgia route announcement

2004 Tour de Georgia
Photo ©: Tour de Georgia

Organisers of the 2nd Dodge Tour de Georgia stage race have released the parcours for the six day, seven stage event. The race will begin in Macon, Georgia on Tuesday, April 20 and wrap up in Alpharetta on Sunday the 25th. This year's race is expected to mark a return to stage racing on home soil by five-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong, who will lead his US Postal Service team as he prepares for his bid for an unprecedented sixth win in France in July.

The 2004 edition will open in Macon with an 85-mile road race, replacing last year's prologue time trial. Stage 1 will begin and end in Macon, taking the riders east to Milledgeville, Georgia's Antebellum Capitol.

The race moves out on stage 2 with a start in Thomaston, 30 miles west of Macon, covering 115 miles on the road to Columbus. This stage will offer the first two king of the mountains (KOM) climbs in the Callaway Gardens/Pine Mountain area.

Thursday, April 22 will test the peloton with a double stage day. In the morning, stage 3 will travel from Carrollton to Rome, followed by a 21 mile stage 4 individual time trial in Rome in the afternoon.

Stage 5 will offer up plenty of climbing, with five KOM climbs between Dalton and Dahlonega in the southern Appalachians. The stage will pass through the famed "Triple Gap" route and cover 128 miles.

Stage 6 will begin in Athens, coinciding with the 25th running of the famous Twilight Criterium. The Tour de Georgia stage will head north over another 128 mile stage from Athens to Hiawassee/Young Harris, including two KOM climbs along the way. A mountaintop finish at Brasstown Bald Mountain will surely open up time gaps in the general classification as the riders race to Georgia's highest point at 4,783 feet.

The race concludes Sunday, April 25 with the 7th and final stage, traveling south from Dawsonville to Alpharetta and finishing on a four mile circuit.

Beloki sets new start

Unable to begin his season in France in the colours of his new team, Brioches La Boulangère, Joseba Beloki has now set the Trofeo Luis Puig (February 22) as his likely start to the 2004 season. Beloki developed a case of tendinitis prior to the Grand Prix d'Ouverture, forcing his withdrawal from the French season opener, along with the subsequent Etoile de Bessèges stage race.

After a full medical exam in Vitoria, Spain, Beloki now appears confident that his problems are on the mend. The tendinitis caused a flare up of pain in the same leg he injured in his season-ending crash in the 2003 Tour de France, but a visit to the same doctor Mikel Sanchez, who treated Beloki after the July, 2003 crash, revealed no serious complications. Following Luis Puig, the Beloki is expected to take part in the Volta a la Comunitat Valenciana, from February 24-28.

Gaumont faces Cofidis

Several weeks after being questioned by police (following the arrest of soigneur Bogdan Madejak) and ultimately admitting his own use of EPO in competition, Cofidis' Philippe Gaumont met with his employers Wednesday to explain his involvement in the suspected trafficking of banned substances. Gaumont, who was picked up by police along with teammate Cédric Vasseur upon his return from Cofidis' training camp in Calpe, Spain, confessed to providing doping products to other riders, but denied charges that he was a dealer within the peloton.

Following a meeting with Cofidis manager Alain Bondue, Gaumont remained uncertain about his future in cycling, even if indications still point to a forced retirement.

"It was a very humane meeting," Gaumont said of his conversations with Bondue in Thursday's l'Equipe. "I left without knowing anything more about my future as an athlete. I could see that Alain Bondue was very affected by everything that has happened in the past few weeks. For the moment, I'm still a member of the team, even if I expect to find out soon that I've been let go."

Gaumont, although he has admitted to the use of banned substances in competition, has not been charged with any crime in relation to the Madejak investigation.

Boardman keeps Cooke on track

Retired British cyclist Chris Boardman has been providing advice on bike positioning to Nicole Cooke, with an eye on the Olympics in Athens this August. Boardman, a master of the time trial and always scientific about bike fit and positioning, offered insights on Cooke's position on both her road bike and on the track, working in conjunction with the English Institute of Sport science lab and velodrome.

"Working with Chris was really helpful," Cooke commented on her website. "...There's more to go yet in terms of my position on the bike. Chris has given me more things to do when I return to Italy. There's a track nearby I can use and I'll also be getting a specific carbon fibre bike."

UCI Pleased with Madrid World's course

UCI Delegates have expressed their satisfaction with preparations for the 2005 World Road Championships, to be held in Madrid, Spain. The racing will be organised by Unipublic, which also runs the Vuelta a España. The parcours will see the peloton tackling 13 laps of a 21.3 kilometre circuit, for a total distance of 276.9 km.

The road races will be run September 24-25, 2005, around the Santiago Bernabéu stadium and the Plaza de Lima. The time trial events (September 21-22) will be held in the Casa de Campo.

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