Avid cycle fans who hope to watch as the Tour de Georgia winds through McDuffie County better make sure they're in place when the racers ride past.
"It will be so fast, they will just fly," said cycling fan Bill Jopling of the professional riders who will be coming through the area April 19 on the first stage of the five-day European style professional race.
Cyclist will begin the race in Augusta and will be coming through McDuffie County about 12:30 p.m. as they travel the 136 miles to Macon for the first day. Fifteen professional cycling teams with eight riders each will travel through Grovetown, Harlem, Dearing and Warrenton, then on to Jewell's Mill, Culverton, Sparta, Devereux, Milledgeville and into Macon. The entire race will end in Alpharetta five days later after a total of 650 miles.
Not only will riders be traveling between 25-30 mph when they come through the relatively flat course in McDuffie County, they'll likely be grouped together hoping to capitalize on the aerodynamic advantages of moving as a group.
"They are so close together, it's amazing," noted Carolyn Gilbert, chamber of commerce director, when discussing the race at a tourism meeting.
With a little preparation, fans can enjoy the event while watching some of the top riders in the world including Lance Armstrong, six-time winner of the prestigious Tour de France, Bobby Julich and Chris Horner. Officials from the Tour de Georgia have provided the following information:
do not obstruct the race course when cyclists and team vehicles pass, and do not throw objects into the path of cyclist
get to the start or finish line areas early
obey local law and ordinances regarding parking, open containers for beverages, and admittance of pets in public areas
cameras are permitted along the course
spectators are encouraged to bring chairs and blankets, if needed, to watch the race
be courteous to athletes when seeking autographs or photos at start or finish areas
The course through the area is as follows: Riders will begin the race in Augusta at 11:30 a.m., and will enter Harlem on Wrightsboro Rd. between 12:23 - 12:32 p.m., according to estimate information from the Greater Augusta Sports Council. They will make a left turn onto N. Lousiville/Hwy. 221 from Wrightsboro Road, then will begin a sprint line at the Laurel and Hardy Museum.
There will be a right turn on Hwy 78/278 from 221, where riders will enter Dearing and McDuffie County between 12:28 and 12:38 p.m. They will proceed past 118, turning left onto Wire road from 78, then left onto Old Milledgeville Road from Wire Rd between 12:47 and 12:57 p.m. They will pass Hwy 17 on Old Milledgeville Road and enter Warren County. There will be a sprint line at the Warrenton Court House, and riders will turn left onto Hwy. 16 and proceed toward Jewell's Mill, Culverton, Sparta, Devereux, Milledgeville and into Macon where the first day of the race ends.