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T-Mobile International - 1.3
San Francisco, USA, September 12, 2004
Big fun by the bay at San Francisco's T-Mobile International
By Tim Maloney-European Editor in San Francisco
As today's T-Mobile International Presented By BMC Software media event took place at noontime on busy Market St. in San Francisco in front of the 1,000th T-Mobile retail store opened in the USA, T-Mobile Vice Chairman and avid cycling fan Bob Stapleton told Cyclingnews that "There are a lot of claims as to which race in America is great, but I think that this race is the best", said Stapleton.
"It's a spectacular event, with huge crowds and great community involvement. You couldn't ask for more." Although as race title sponsor, Stapleton may be biased in his view, truth be told that his perception isn't wrong even on a totally objective basis. With crowds in excess of half a million expected to cheer on six time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong and the rest of the peloton on the testing course up and down the hills of San Francisco, in four short years, the T-Mobile International race has become the equivalent of any classic race anywhere in the world in terms of spectacle and impact.
For 2004, the parcours of the T-Mobile International has been improved as a flat, windy dogleg section through the Presidio has been eliminated, while an extra lap of the 8km final short loop as been added to keep the overall 174km. distance similar to years past. The extra short loop means another trip up Taylor Street and the elimination of the flat section means the climb up Fillmore Street will now come much sooner in the lap. With the heatwave that has hit the SF Bay Area in the last few days subsiding, the weather for Sunday's race should be excellent; 30 degrees (Celsius) and sunny, with afternoon westerly winds.
2004 T-Mobile International revised parcours
3 Laps of a 2.1km opening lap on The Embarcadero /6.5km
Armstrong out - strong field still ready to do battle
The T-Mobile International, presented by BMC Software won't be headed up by six-time Tour De France champion Lance Armstrong (USPS-Berry Floor), who has decided not to race on Sunday. Armstrong, who arrived in San Francisco Friday for Lance Armstrong Day, explained in a statement that, "This problem popped up for the first time ever toward the end of the Tour de France and I thought it would go away with the proper rest. It continued to hurt during training and flared up this week, leading to this decision. This race is just too hard not to enter at 100 per cent. I'm clearly disappointed. However, I felt if I pushed it, I could risk an injury that would set me back for months." But Armstrong's powerful USPS-Berry Floor team features George Hincapie, 2001 San Francisco GP Champion and Viatcheslav Ekimov '04 Olympic TT silver medalist in 2004 who was third last year in SF. Both of these dangerous riders must be considered favorites for the top spot on the podium in Sunday's race. As well, USPS rider Chechu Rubiera may be a wild card that the US Postal Service squad will play in this, their final UCI race ever in North America as the beloved Posties "Blue Train."
'04 Olympic TT Bronze medalist Bobby Julich (Team CSC) will likely not start on Sunday due to an ear infection, but another American rider to watch will certainly be highly motivated local resident Levi Leipheimer (Rabobank) of Santa Rosa, CA. Leipheimer, a strong climber was 9th in this years Tour De France and a '04 Olympian in Athens for Team USA and will be cheered on from the sidelines Sunday by his wife Odessa and faithful dog-buddy Bandit. After being flicked from the US Olympic team, Emeryville, CA. resident USPRO Champion Fred Rodriguez (Aqua Sapone-Cafe Mokambo) is going to be looking to show why he's riding in the Stars and Stripes jersey for the third time in his career.
Webcor Builders will have two former champions heading their roster at this
years T-Mobile International, presented by BMC Software. 2003 Winner and PCT
Champion Chris Horner and Charles Dionne, talented Canadian sprinter who conquered
the streets of San Francisco in 2002 will be battling for supremacy against
one of the best fields ever assembled for a professional bicycle race in the
Phonak Hearing Systems will also field a solid squad at this year's T-Mobile International, presented by BMC Software. It's the first time the Swiss team has ever raced in the United States and classy Slovenian sprinter Uros Murn was runner-up in the 2003 PCT and finished 5th last year in the T-Mobile International. Phonak has current Swiss champion Daniel Schnider and two powerful former Swiss champions, speedy Alex Moos and strongman Niki Aebersold and look for legendary Swiss stage race rider Alex Zulle also on hand for Phonak Hearing Systems quest for a win in San Francisco.
Other international riders to watch in this years T-Mobile International, presented by BMC Software are Saunier Duval-Prodir's young guns Ruben Lobato, Olivier Zaugg and Manuele Mori. Saeco-Alessio will field a mixed team with a lot of possibilities; Saeco's trio of popular two time Italian champ Sal "Toto" Comesso and USPRO Championships runner-up Antonio Bucciero and German powerhouse Jorg Ludewig will join with two former winners of Paris-Roubaix from Alessio, mega Swede Magnus "Maggie" Backstedt and an Italian beloved by his American tifosi, the tough Tuscan Andrea Tafi. Wathch out for Italian team Domina Vacanze; this team has a lot of riders who are in-form right now, like Massimo Giunti, seventh last year and third in San Francisco in 2002, emerging talent Michele Scarponi and old fox Giovanni Lombardi, all of whom are definite danger men in this years edition of the T-Mobile International, presented by BMC Software.
American team Navigators Insurance is coming off a respectable performance
of the recent Tour Of Britain and will field riders with a chance to have an
impact on Sunday's T-Mobile International like Irish Olympian Ciaran Power,
American Kirk O'Bee and Aussie stalwart Henk Vogels. Team Healthnet rider Jason
McCartney, a 2004 Olympian is a talented climber who should find the steep hills
of San Francisco
Jelly Belly-Aramark's Aussie Ben Brooks is a superb climber, while always aggressive
local team OFoto-Lombardi Sports will aim to position Canadian climber Dominique
Perras in the top placings. And Mike Neel's Northern California based Sierra
Nevada Brewing squad can count on the always dangerous Trent Klasna, Canadian
strongman Eric Wohlberg and solid sprinter Russ Hamby at the 2004 edition of