by Susan Westemeyer
The Tour of Austria has been extended a day and will be eight days long in 2007, Austrian cycling Federaton president Otto Flum announced Friday. UCI president Pat McQuaid personally approved the change. The next Tour will start on Sunday, July 8 and finish on Sunday, July 15.
"After the very successful double of the Hervis Tour '06 and the World Championships in Salzburg, McQuaid personally looked after our request to extend the tour for another day. Now we have the definite approval," said Flum. "We are on a good path. We got only praise from the UCI, the teams and everybody who participated in the Hervis Tour '06. In a time when the UCI is generally supported the shortening of tours, especially the big tours like the Giro d'Italia and the Vuelta, it was surprising that we got an extra day. But of course we are very happy with this positive decision!"
Tour Director Ursula Riha was also happy with the news. "The reasons for the change are simple: You can do more with a start on a Sunday. Plus with an extra day we can reach more parts of Austria without long transfers. And it's not a problem for the ProTour teams, since most of them sent their teams on Friday or Saturday anyway. And in addition, now the top teams can better use the Tour of Austria, which takes place again during the first week of the Tour de France, to prepare for the second half of the season."