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April 5/05 7:18 am - Dodge Tour de Georgia Final Teams Announced


Posted by Editoress on 04/5/05
 

Dodge Tour de Georgia Final Teams Announced

2005 Dodge Tour De Georgia Announces 16 Teams To Battle For Yellow At America's Premier Cycling Race, April 19-24

Representing 18 Countries, Pro Cycling's Best of the Best and the Sport's Rising New Stars Will Compete this Spring in Ultimate Test of Endurance and Might on U.S. Soil and the Event Heralded as Georgia's Race to Defeat Cancer

It will be an epic showdown unlike anything the sport of cycling has seen on U.S. soil this April 19-24, when America's preeminent cyclists, the top international riders and the sport's rising new stars go head-to-head in the heart of the South at the 2005 Dodge Tour de Georgia, North America's premier professional cycling race. Announced today from race headquarters in Atlanta, Ga., officials confirmed the lineup of 16 professional teams set to compete this spring in the six-stage, 642-mile race benefiting the Georgia Cancer Coalition. The truly international final field will consist of 128 riders from 18 countries.

Six UCI ProTeams, two Professional Continental teams and eight Continental teams will drop the hammer at the start in Augusta and force, attack, breakaway and kick at breakneck speeds across Georgia's dramatic and often unforgiving landscape. With each team sending its finest sprinters, climbers and general classification contenders, the competition will be fierce along the bluffs of the mighty Savannah River, high atop majestic Brasstown Bald and every pedal stroke of the way, with each team more than capable of claiming jersey classifications, stage wins and the overall Dodge Race Leader's yellow jersey.

"The caliber of teams matched with Georgia's beautiful yet challenging terrain ensures the 2005 Dodge Tour de Georgia will be the best yet. While we're an invitation only event, we had teams from around the world reaching out to us, clamoring for an invitation and looking to make their mark in front of an American audience," said Stan Holm, executive director of the 2005 Dodge Tour de Georgia. "The Dodge Tour de Georgia is the most anticipated stage race in the U.S. hands down and one of pro cycling's most exciting new races anywhere. And, as many are predicting, this just might be the last time fans can see Lance race here in the U.S. All I can say is get ready!"

Representing the newly created, top-rated UCI ProTour will be six ProTeams eager to take home the top prize on U.S. soil, including America's Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team, led by last year's Dodge Tour de Georgia champion Lance Armstrong. In defending his title, Armstrong will face a formidable force from the five other ProTour teams that include France's Credit Agricole, Denmark's Team CSC, Saunier DuvalˆProdir of Spain, the Swiss team Phonak and Germany's Gerolsteiner Team, the most recent ProTeam addition to this year's race. Levi Leipheimer, another of America's powerhouse riders shaking up the European racing scene, will lead the charge for Gerolsteiner.

"We are looking forward to returning to the Tour de Georgia and will be racing to defend last year's title," said Lance Armstrong of the Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team. "The field of competition is very deep and the course is tougher than last year," added Armstrong.

The highly competitive Professional Continental classification will be represented by two of its most experienced teams. The Navigators Insurance Pro Cycling Team, one of America's oldest and most active pro cycling teams, will make its third consecutive appearance at the Dodge Tour de Georgia. Joining Navigators from the Professional Continental classification is Team LPR, the Swiss team championed for its robust Italian-Russian flare and tactical prowess.

On the domestic side, the Continental classification will be represented by the most prominent squads competing in North America today. Jelly BellyˆPool Gel, Kodak EasyShare Gallery/Sierra Nevada, Jittery JoesˆKalahari, Canada's Team Symmetrics, Health NetˆMaxxis, ColavitaˆSutter Home, and two developmental teams, TIAAˆCREF and USA Cycling's Stars & Stripes, have all confirmed their participation and dedication to demonstrating the power and speed of North American racing.

Commenting on the high expectations for the Continental teams in a race featuring cycling's top echelon, Australia's Ben Brooks of Jelly BellyˆPool Gel Pro Cycling Team noted, "Being a Continental Team, we don't get to race against the ProTour level teams very often. We're ready to test our mettle against many of the world's best cyclists and show the ProTour teams just how strong and fast American racing is right now. As a team, we finished well in 2004 and we're always in the thick of it. However, this year we will be giving the overall classification a serious go while playing a major role at each sprint line and King of the Mountain competition."

Health NetˆMaxxis rider Gord Fraser, the 2004 Maxxis Sprint Jersey winner, anticipates a battle from start to finish. "Expect Heath NetˆMaxxis to challenge every sprint line contest as we lift the pace and dare the peloton to keep up, " said Fraser. "The course is tough, the flats will be fast and the climbing will be difficult. Considering we'll be racing alongside many of the world's best cyclists, it's exciting and motivating to be racing in the 2005 Dodge Tour de Georgia."

The final roster of the 128 athletes participating in the 2005 Dodge Tour de Georgia will be confirmed shortly before the race, with each of the 16 teams designating their most able eight riders once several early season races conclude. In addition to Leipheimer (USA), among those expected to participate and pose a threat to Armstrong's title include:

• Bobby Julich (USA) of Team CSC, the 2004 Olympic Bronze medalist and rider of the moment after becoming the first American to ever win Paris-Nice this past February and then rolling on to take the 2005 Criterium International;

• Floyd Landis (USA) of Phonak, the Pennsylvanian who competed in the first ever Dodge Tour de Georgia in 2003 after recovering from a pelvic fracture sustained in a training ride;

• Chris Horner (USA) of Saunier Duval ˆ Prodir, the 2003 Dodge Tour de Georgia champion;

• Ben Brooks (AUS) of Jelly Belly ˆ Pool Gel, a consistent top finisher on domestic racing front;

• Nathan O'Neill (AUS) of Navigators Insurance, the six-time Australian National Time Trail Champion and Georgia resident who first wore the Dodge Race Leader jersey in 2003.

The Dodge Tour de Georgia is America's premier, professional cycling event and a rolling festival of community activities. The 2005 world-class event is scheduled for April 19-24. In 2004, nearly 750,000 spectators watched along the roadways as 15 international teams competed across 653 miles of the state of Georgia, having an estimated economic impact of $35-70 million. Won by Lance Armstrong, the 2004 race featured world-class cyclists and Tour de France veterans such as American Bobby Julich (a 2004 Olympic Games medalist), Italian Mario Cipollini and German Jens Voigt. The Tour is sanctioned by the UCI (2.1 America Tour-Continental Calendar), the international governing body of cycling, and USA Cycling (2.1) as a premier event for elite athletes around the world. The Tour's official beneficiary is the Georgia Cancer Coalition (GCC), and the race proactively promotes a healthy lifestyle at its Healthy Georgia Expo. The Dodge Tour de Georgia, which started in 2003, is owned and operated by the Georgia Partnership for Economic Development. For more information, visit www.dodgetourdegeorgia.com.

Georgia Cancer Coalition

The Georgia Cancer Coalition leads Georgia's comprehensive cancer initiative, uniting people and organizations to work together to save lives and reduce suffering from cancer. As a public-private partnership, the Coalition works to strengthen existing cancer related programs and create new initiatives that accelerate cancer prevention, early detection, and research and treatment to make the highest level of care accessible to all Georgians. The Georgia Cancer Coalition provides guidance and assistance for using Georgia's resources in the fight to reverse the cancer mortality and incidence rates. The Coalition is the first of its kind in the nation and is fast becoming a national model. Mobilizing Georgia. Immobilizing Cancer.

2005 Dodge Tour de Georgia Team Summaries

Phonak, based in Switzerland, is one of the newest professional cycling teams on the circuit and has just recently been admitted into the ProTour. Floyd Landis, in his first year with Phonak, is a team leader and is the former right-hand-man of Lance Armstrong during several Tours de France. While Landis has raced the Dodge Tour de Georgia before, the 2005 race will be Phonak's first showing. Big results are expected from this second year team, proving their merit and might among the best of the best.

Team CSC returns to the Dodge Tour de Georgia for the second time. The Danish team won the team competition at the 2004 event and is considered one of the strongest teams on the ProTour. Riders, including American Bobby Julich and the German diesel engine Jens Voigt, finished in the top five positions six out of seven stages in the 2004 race. Team CSC has a long standing cycling history, deeply rooted in the grand European races like the Tour de France, the Vuelta a España and the Giro d'Italia as well as the spring classics.

Credit Agricole is making its first appearance at the Dodge Tour de Georgia in 2005, but has been a part of the racing scene in Europe and elsewhere since 1998. The French team features some of cycling's staple riders such as Christophe Moreau and Thor Hushovd as well as Georgia's own Saul Raisin, who will be back racing in the 2005 event. Credit Agricole is a crowd favorite, particularly at French spring classic races such as Paris Nice, Paris Roubaix and the Dauphiné ˆ Liberé and has contested many yellow jerseys at the Tour de France.

Saunier Duval - Prodir placed sixth in stage two and second in stage five at the 2004 Dodge Tour de Georgia, and the Spanish/Italian team is back, this time led by the 2003 champion Chris Horner. Their accolades include stage wins at their home race, the Vuelta a España, and San Sebastian. The team just completed a successful training camp in Estepona, Spain, where they tested form and prepared for the early season races.

Discovery Channel Pro Cycling is the only U.S. based ProTour team, and is in its first year after taking over what was the US Postal Service Pro Cycling team. Led by the six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, the team has diversified its roster to include more classic race specialists, climbing specialists and up-and-coming grand tour riders. Armstrong, who claimed the Dodge Leader jersey in 2004, also won stages three and four, an epic two-stage day.

Gerolsteiner Team, based out of Gerolstein, Germany ended 2004 as the third highest ranked team in the UCI standings. Launching into 2005, the ProTour team added American Levi Leipheimer to complement the team's other GC favorite Georg Totschnig of Austria. While highly visible in all Pro Tour cycling events, including the Giro de Italia, the Tour de France, the Vuelta a Espana, and every major international race on the calendar, the 2005 Dodge Tour de Georgia will be Gerolsteiner's first appearance on U.S. soil. Team members include Davide Rebellin of Argentina and Danilo Hondo of Germany.

Navigators Insurance Pro Cycling Team will make its third appearance at the Dodge Tour de Georgia. Entering its second decade, the team is North America's only Professional Continental Team. The team currently boasts several Olympians and many current and former National and World Champions. Since 1994, the team has been home to more than 55 athletes representing 12 different countries, and has earned victories on five continents. Internationally, the team competes in major UCI events in select European, Asian and Oceanic Countries. In addition to its demanding competition schedule, the team participates in numerous community, school and charity events throughout the United States promoting the family-oriented, healthy, sporting atmosphere that cycling creates.

Team LPR is Swiss-registered professional continental team that shows off a robust Italian/Russian flavor. Although the team has its sights on the 2005 Giro d'Italia, the 29 year-old team manager Omar Piscina sees the Dodge Tour de Georgia as a formidable challenge, one that will test his riders' stamina and might before the Italian tour. Leading the team is a racing veteran with a remarkable dossier of experience and wins, Russian Pavel Tonkov. Team LPR also includes 38 year-old Russian Dmitri Konyshev, Swiss neo-pros Alberto Tiberio and Andrea Del Biaggio and Italians Mauro Santambrogio, Danilo Napolitano and Michele Maccanti.

USA Cycling's U23 National Team is in its seventh season of operation and features the nation's most promising young riders. Boasting such alumni as Discovery Channel pros David Zabriskie, Michael Creed, and Patrick McCarty, Credit Agricole's Saul Raisin, Jelly Belly- PoolGel's Danny Pate and Health Net's Tyler Farrar, the National Team has helped spawn the careers of many current and future notable American riders. USA Cycling's National Team lives, trains and competes most of the year in Belgium under the direction of team director Noel Dejonckheere. Key results from the team's history include Pate's U23 World Time Trial Championship in 2001, Farrar's stage win in the 2004 Tour de l'Avenir, Raisin's Best Young Rider Jersey in the 2003 Tour de Georgia, and McCarty's overall win at the 2003 Ronde de L'Isard and number-two world ranking.

Kodak EasyShare Gallery/Sierra Nevada is a new UCI Continental Team, combining the resources of Kodak EasyShare Gallery's (formerly Ofoto) and Sierra Nevada Brewing Company's past cycling programs. Kodak Gallery/Sierra Nevada boasts a balanced squad and will bring an aggressive racing style to the 2005 Dodge Tour de Georgia. New Zealand Olympian Hayden Godfrey, the team's top sprinter, could challenge for the win in Stage 1 while 2003 Canadian National Champion Dominique Perras will shoot for a top-ten overall finish.

Jelly Belly - Pool Gel, based in San Marcos, Calif., marks 2005 as its seventh year on the American cycling scene. Returning to the Dodge Tour de Georgia, the UCI Continental Team is a colorful lot led by Kirk Albers, Alex Candelario, Ben Brooks and Mariano Friedick. Jelly Belly/Pool Gel has a history of challenging the peloton with riders like Brooks and Albers always in the mix, finishing among the top 20 in nearly each stage at the 2004 event. Energized with a new sponsor (Pool Gel) and a high-impact sugar rush, Jelly Belly/Pool Gel's participation ensures an exciting race in 2005.

Colavita - Sutter Home Pro Cycling Team is back for another Dodge Tour de Georgia and returns stronger than ever. A few high-powered former Saturn riders as well as several new riders including Baby Giro D'Italia winner Davide Frattini of Varese, Italy, take the team to the next level with a star-studded roster. With new leadership in place and new sponsors, high expectations have been set for this UCI Continental Team, which has been tearing it up on the early season racing circuit.

Team TIAA-CREF is often considered the nation's premier development cycling team, featuring some of the best competitive young cyclists in the country. The team is gearing up for an exciting second season of racing, following on the heels of a successful 2004 debut that included strong performances at numerous top U.S. races, including the Redlands, the Dodge Tour de Georgia and the Tour of Connecticut. The 2004 season also included Ian MacGregor's first-place victory at the Under-23 National Road Championship.

Jittery Joe's-Kalahari Pro Cycling Team is a Georgia-grown team based out of Athens, just northeast of Atlanta. At the 2004 Dodge Tour de Georgia, the team was the local favorite and clearly became the sweetheart team of many cycling fans as then team member Cesar Grajales rode up and away on the slopes of Brasstown Bald Mountain for a stage win. Up until 2005, Jittery Joe's had been entirely supported by coffee sales, selling organic, shade grown coffee at races, online, and in bike shops across the country. But now with the support of Kalahari's Fruittrekker bars, the teams has expanded, adding Bostonian and team leader Tim Johnson and the-one-to-watch Evan Elken.

Health Net Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis is in its third year as a pro team and is based out of Piedmont, Calif. For such a young team, the team landed the top slot on the National Race Calendar in 2004, and four of its riders finished in the top-ten individual standings, including the 2004 Maxxis Sprint Jersey winner and Canadian Gord Fraser. Health Net Maxxis produced four Olympians for the 2004 Games, and the team brings speed to any race in which it competes, including the 2005 Dodge Tour de Georgia.

Team Symmetrics is a twelve-man squad out of Langley, British Columbia, Canada and is in its first year as a professional team. The newness of a team affords it a bit of anonymity and lower expectations in it first year on the pro circuit, but with riders like Jake Elker and Andrew Pinfold, speed and endurance seem to be this team's sticking point. Having never raced at the Dodge Tour de Georgia, anything is possible.

 


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