Bicycle fans can get an up close look at American cycling legend Lance Armstrong as well as a field of top contenders from around the world as the Tour de Georgia winds its way through McDuffie County on the first stage of the premier bike race April 19.
Cyclist will begin the race in Augusta and will weave through Georgia, ending in Alpharetta five days later. On the Augusta to Macon route, the 136-mile long first stage, fifteen professional cycling teams with eight riders each will travel through Grovetown, Harlem, Dearing, Warrenton, Jewell's Mill, Culverton, Sparta, Devereux, Milledgeville and into Macon.
The first stage is a relatively flat route, a perfect terrain for the world's top sprinters to showcase their skills. Sprint lines are located in Harlem and Warrenton, promising local viewers some exciting cycling action as competitors specializing in bursts of speed vie for the honor of wearing the orange Sprint Jersey.
Other special jerseys riders will try to earn include Overall Leader, Best Young Rider, King of the Mountains and Most Aggressive.
Riders will be racing for the $100,000 prize purse and a place in the record books during the six stage race as they travel through some picturesque Georgia towns. Last year Armstrong won the Tour de Georgia by just 24 seconds over German challenger Jens Voigt. American Chris Homer finished third.
Although individuals are honored with the title, cycling is a strategic team sport with each rider on the team playing a part in victory for the leader. Teams usually have one leader and several other cyclists who sacrifice their chances of winning to support that leader.
Team members may help their leader conserve energy by riding in front, allowing him to draft off their bicycles. Team cyclists may also exhaust their own energy levels by chasing down other riders attempting to break away, and even sometimes giving up their bikes when needed.
The Tour de Georgia, 650 miles in all, will benefit the Georgia Cancer Coalition.