2005 Dodge Tour de Georgia set to rock

By Mark Zalewski in Augusta, Georgia and Les Clarke In 2004 it was all Lance Armstrong at the Dodge...

America's premier stage race showcases America's premier cyclists

By Mark Zalewski in Augusta, Georgia and Les Clarke

In 2004 it was all Lance Armstrong at the Dodge Tour de Georgia - Big Tex showed everyone he was on song for the Tour de France where he went on to smash his way to a sixth consecutive win. Armstrong was in yellow for most of the 2004 Tour de Georgia, and in 2005 the expected one million plus spectators will be looking at him again to gauge his form for a second consecutive Georgia crown and his chances for July in France.

But this year's event also serves as a showcase as to how far Americans have gone in the European peloton. The four Pro Tour teams in attendance at this year's race are all led by American's - and not just because the race is on US soil. Phonak's new team leader and former US Postal rider Floyd Landis will be making the trip home to the US, along with strong Swiss rider Aurélien Clerc and talented South African Robert Hunter. Another team to look out for will be CSC, who bring three American riders to the event, led by Bobby Julich, who has enjoyed great early season form in Paris-Nice and Criterium International, winning both events. Dave Zabriskie will be looking to assert himself on home ground as will Christian Vande Velde.

A huge drawcard for the event is the participation of Levi Leipheimer, Gerolsteiner's new 2005 signing. "To be honest it wasn't always part of my plan. It wasn't until we were invited, immediately I thought it was a positive thing to come here. It's always great to come home of course, and to support cycling in the US." Levi will be bringing us insights into the event with his daily diaries, exclusive to Cyclingnews. He hasn't been that busy racing in the early season, but all reports suggest he's been training hard and keen to perform at the Tour de Georgia.

Click here for the full preview & a vox pop with contenders including Bobby Julich, Levi Leipheimer and Floyd Landis

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