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T-Mobile International - 1.3
San Francisco, USA, September 14, 2003
The 2003 T-Mobile International (formerly the San Francisco GP) looks set to be the biggest edition yet of this hugely popular race that has filled the streets of San Fran with tens of thousands of fans for the last two years.
US Postal's five-time Tour winner Lance Armstrong will be the main attraction, but he is unlikely to be going for the win himself. In past years Armstrong has been content to pay back his team-mates for their support during the year and has worked for George Hincapie. However, with Hincapie in Spain for the Vuelta, Armstrong seems likely to ride in support of super-domestique Viatcheslav Ekimov.
Tour de France runner-up Jan Ullrich won't be in San Francisco but the Tour podium's third man, Alexandre Vinokourov will. He's joined from the 2003 Grand Tour podium roster by Giro d'Italia winner Gilberto Simoni and runner-up Stefano Garzelli, making for far and away the highest quality field that has ever taken the start in San Fran.
But the visitors are unlikely to have everything their own way if the impressive line-up of top local talent has anything to say about it. Last year's winner Charles Dionne will be looking to defend his title, and he will have a strong Saturn line-up behind him. Also chasing the glory that comes with a win here will be Chris Baldwin's Navigators team, Jonathan Vaughters and Prime Alliance and Cyclingnews diarist John Lieswyn and his 7UP/Maxxis squad.
Nobody imagined that a women's race would ever be run on the same course as the men's in San Francisco. This year however, and no doubt due to the new sponsor T-Mobile, the women will race in the T-Mobile International on Sunday.
Starting and finishing on the Embarcadero, the women will cover 49.6 (79.4km) on a grueling course that covers some of the steepest hills in San Francisco. From the Start/Finish line, riders will complete two of the 1.3 mile starting laps before the course winds through North Beach along Fisherman's Wharf. Halfway through the 10-mile circuit, the flatlands along the beautiful bay give way to the grueling climb up Fillmore Street. Then they will race through Russian Hill, back through North Beach via the punishing Taylor Street climb and back to the Embarcadero. After four of the main 10.5 mile loops the women will finish with a 5 mile finishing lap to end the day.
With a few of the main local contenders out of action, some of the race favourites will be arriving from abroad. US National road champion, Amber Neben (T-Mobile) has recently taken herself out of competition after announcing a positive drug test last week and US Time trial Champion, Kimberly Bruckner will also not be able to compete this weekend due to the surgery she is undergoing to remove a cancerous growth from her ankle. Canadian favourite from the Saturn team, Lyne Bessette, is out of action with a broken collarbone, but Saturn has flown in Katie Mactier who has been racing in Europe with the Australian National team. Supporting her will be Manon Jutras, Ina Teutenberg and the rest of the strong Saturn team.
Arriving from Europe will be the recently crowned World Cup champion Nicole Cooke (Ausra Grodis) who loves a tough course such as the one this race offers, and former World Champion Diana Ziliute (Acca Due O Pasta) who has won three major races in the past two weeks, suggesting that she definitely has the form to win. Former UCI ranked number one, Judith Arndt (Nurnberger) will also be one to watch having come fourth in the recent Grande Boucle Feminine (Women's version of the Tour de France).
On the home front riders such as Sue Palmer Komar (Genesis Scuba) will certainly be making it difficult for the tourists, as will riders such as Dede Barry (T-Mobile), Sandy Espeseth (Victory Brewing) and Heather Albert (Team Basis). Diet-Rite will be aggressive as they have been all year and Tina Mayolo-Pic or Cybil Degustini will be sure to put in a good performance. On a course such as this, anything can happen. One thing for certain is that it will be a great one to watch.
The women begin at 7.30 am on Sunday morning with the men's race following at 11am. Following the event the organizers have arranged live entertainment with Collective Soul starting at 4pm. If you are not lucky enough to be in San Francisco for the event, stay tuned to cyclingnews.com for live coverage.
This 109 mile road race starts and finishes on the Embarcadero at the end of Market Street, near the citys famous Ferry Building in San Francisco. From The Start/Finish, the course winds through North Beach, along Fishermans Wharf and the Marina. Halfway through the 10-mile circuit, the flatlands along the beautiful bay give way to the gut-busting climb up Fillmore Street. Once the riders reach the top of the steep 3-block climb; they will race through Russian Hill, back through North Beach and to the Embarcadero.
Lap Length: 16.65 km/10.3 miles