Tour de Georgia organizers on Wednesday released details of one of the most anticipated stages at this year’s race — stage 4’s 10-mile team time trial, to be held at Road Atlanta, a race car track 50 miles outside Atlanta.
At a media event at the track, race organizers spelled out the logistics for the event: four circuits on the hilly, 12-turn track for each 8-man team. Two teams will be on the track at at a time and the team’s time will be taken from the fifth team member across the line.
Teams will ride in the opposite direction normally used during auto racing, and as a consequence will be faced with a short, but very steep climb almost immediately upon leaving the start house.
Some fans may be disappointed to learn that time trial bikes will not be allowed. Why’s that? Well, organizers say the course is very technical, so road bikes are safer. And, it’s a matter of convenience for the teams, said the race’s assistant technical director, Jeff Corbett.
“The Tour de Georgia is a rather short race by comparison obviously to a grand tour. The
travel is difficult for the European teams, so asking them to drag eight more bikes, plus disc wheels and maybe specialty front wheels for 10 miles is a big ask,” Corbett said. “Then some of them might have decided ‘Oh … we’re not going to bring eight, we’ll just bring five (bikes),’ which would then put them at a little bit of a competitive disadvantage. So this way everyone’s on equal footing.”
Corbett noted that the tours of Qatar and Langkawi have banned time trial bikes and disc wheels for similar reasons.
Jittery Joe’s team riders, who took a few test laps on the track after the presentation, said they agreed with the decision. The team is finishing a week-long training camp in the area.
“I think it’s a great course,” Jittery Joe’s rider Neil Shirley said. “I think it’s a good call not to have time trial bikes on it because a couple of corners on the backside of the course are very, very fast. But it was fun. With eight guys, it’s going to roll really quick. That little puncher hill at the beginning of the lap definitely stings the legs a little bit.”
The organizers also announced that this year’s Tour de Georgia would see the inclusion of the GE sponsored Marco Polo Cycling Team presented by Trek. The Chinese pro outfit was founded in 2005 and features former Discovery Channel rider Fuyu Li and longtime Dutch pro Léon van Bon. With China being the host of this year’s Olympic games, the addition of the Chinese squad will give cycling and the Tour De Georgia higher visibility in that country through a partnership China Central Television plans on broadcasting the event.
Already known to be included on the roster of participating Tour de Georgia squads along with the Marco Polo Cycling Team are defending champion Janez Brajkovic’s Astana team, Team CSC, Gerolsteiner, and Team High Road. A separate announcement outlining the remaining team slots for this year’s race is expected as soon as Thursday.