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10th Deutschland Tour - ProT

Germany, August 10-18, 2007


Past champs battle it out in Deutschland Tour

By Susan Westemeyer

The ProTour rolls on to the Deutschland Tour, with 176 riders from 22 teams tackling the 1292.5 kilometres over nine stages and making the trek from Saarbrücken to Hannover.

Two teams are missing from the line-up. The ProTour team Astana is taking a "time-out" for the month of August, and race organisers revoked their wild-card invitation to the Professional Continental Team Elk Haus-Simplon only days before the race started.

The last two winners will be on hand to fight it out again for the title. CSC's Jens Voigt won last year by 1'38" over Levi Leipheimer, then of Team Gerolsteiner, who in turn had won the race in 2005. Now with Discovery Channel, the American finished third in the recent Tour de France, getting stronger as the race went on. Team-mate and winner Alberto Contador conceded that by the end of the race, Leipheimer was riding better than he was.

This year's edition of the race sends the riders 183.7 km starting and ending in Saarbrücken. The next day features the Tour's first ever team time trial, covering 42.4 km around Bretten near Karlsruhe.

The fun ends there, or starts the next day, depending on your point of view, as the next three stages go up and down -- but mainly up. The third stage has lots of little ups and downs, with two category one climbs thrown in on the way through the Black Forest from Pforzheim to Offenburg. Stage four will look for an escape group as it goes from Singen to Sonthofen, with a category three and category two climb in the last 56 kilometres.

Not many will be having fun during the fifth and queen stage, which starts in Sonthofen, and is expected to decide the ultimate overall winner. The stage only features three ranked mountains, but one of those is not only HC, but also the highest mountaintop arrival in a ProTour race: the Rettenbachferner in Austria, at 2,670 meters.

The sprinters who survive that climb will be able to show their stuff in the next two stages. Stage six stays within Austria, 175 kilometres from Längenfeld to Kufstein, and the seventh stage runs from Kufstein to Regensburg, Germany. A mass sprint is expected both times.

Stage eight is a flat individual time trial of 33 kilometres through downtown Fürth. From there the riders transfer to Einbeck, where they will head off for their final 143.1 kilometres to Hannover to crown a new Deutschland Tour winner.