By Hedwig Kröner
The Deutschland Tour (Tour of Germany), a nine-day ProTour stage race, will start in Eastern Germany's Altenburg on Monday, August 15. Covering a total of 1,530 kilometres, the parcours forms a 'U'-shaped loop down South into the hills of the Bavarian forest, before crossing the Alpine border to Austria. With two Hors Catégorie climbs, three Cat. 1 and several other hills to master, this year's race is definitely suited for climbers, with the 'Rettenbachferner' mountain (2,684 m) on stage four to Sölden being the second highest ascent taken on by the European professional peloton this season, and certainly a very difficult one: its average gradient exceeds ten percent. A second mountain finish will await the riders on stage seven to the 'Feldberg' (1.280 m) in the Black Forest, before a 30 kilometre time trial will decide on General Classification on the penultimate stage to Weinheim. The event finishes in former German capital Bonn on Tuesday, August 23.
One major favourite for this year's Deutschland Tour is T-Mobile's Jan Ullrich, who has announced his aim for overall victory after placing third at the 2005 Tour de France last month. "For me, it’s not a build-up race for the Tour any more," he said about the race, which has been rescheduled from June to August to suit the UCI ProTour calendar. "So instead of having to save energy, I can give it my best shot."
Defending champion Patrik Sinkewitz (Quick.Step) will also be participating, and up against such big names as Alexandre Vinokourov (T-Mobile), Levi Leipheimer (Gerolsteiner), Cadel Evans (Davitamon-Lotto), Bobby Julich (Team CSC), Michael Rasmussen (Rabobank), Davide Rebellin (Gerolsteiner), Danilo Di Luca (Liquigas-Bianchi), Jörg Jaksche (Liberty Seguros) and Jens Voigt (Team CSC).
The 2005 Deutschland Tour outlines as follows:
August 15 - Stage 1: Altenburg - Plauen, 170 km
August 16 - Stage 2: Pegnitz - Bodenmais, 180 km
August 17 - Stage 3: Bodenmais - Kufstein, 232 km
August 18 - Stage 4: Kufstein - Sölden, 175 km
August 19 - Stage 5: Sölden - Friedrichshafen, 215 km
August 20 - Stage 6: Friedrichshafen - Singen (Hohentwiel), 175 km
August 21 - Stage 7: Singen (Hohentwiel) - Feldberg (Black Forest), 173 km
August 22 - Stage 8: Ludwigshafen - Weinheim, ITT, 30 km
August 23 - Stage 9: Bad Kreuznach - Bonn, 170 km