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Giro finale
Photo ©: Bettini

Latest Cycling News for January 24, 2004

Edited by Chris Henry

Armstrong builds momentum in Georgia

With the recent confirmation that title sponsor Dodge would return in 2004, the Tour de Georgia is capitalizing on indications that five-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong will lead his US Postal Service team at the American stage race which began in 2003. Scheduled for April 20-25, the event sits at the height of the spring classics calendar in Europe, conflicting most notably with Liège-Bastogne-Liège, which Armstrong targeted last year.

"Obviously, we are really, really, really excited," [US Postal team owner] Tailwind Sports' Dan Osipow said in an Associated Press report. "We know Lance's presence this year, when he will be attempting a sixth Tour de France, will generate a ton of excitement. It's a mini Tour de France."

An appearance in Georgia would be Armstrong's first stage race in the United States since his victory in the Cascade Cycling Classic in 1998.

At a press conference Friday at the team's training camp in Solvang, California, Armstrong would neither confirm nor rule out his participation in the Dodge Tour de Georgia, and sources close to Armstrong told Cyclingnews that recent press reports of his confirmed place at the Tour de Georgia may have been taken out of context. Nonetheless, Armstrong did indicate that chances were indeed very good given his intent to spend more time in the United States in the early season.

"We're still working on the domestic program," Armstrong commented. "There will definitely be one US race on my program, either the Tour de Georgia or the Tour of the Gila, but we're not quite sure yet."

Regardless, organisers of the Dodge Tour de Georgia are excited about the prospect of Armstrong's appearance, and are well aware of the increased exposure he would bring to the event in only its second year.

"This is huge for the state of Georgia in terms of the national and international focus that will be in Georgia,'' race director Stan Holm told The Macon Telegraph. "Not only will cyclists be watching because it's Lance Armstrong, the best professional cyclist in the world, but also Lance is a personality to himself."

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