By Susan Westemeyer
The Radklassiker Hainleite (also known as Rund um die Hainleite) in Erfurt, Germany, will not be held this year as a race for the professionals, but will become the final stage of the Under 23 Thüringen Rundfahrt, organisers announced Tuesday. It is the third German race to be cancelled so far this year, joining the Rheinland-Pfalz Rundfahrt and the Niedersachsen Rundfahrt, with the 3-Länder Tour (formerly the Hessen Tour) on the brink.
"The Hainleite is not dead," proclaimed race director Jörg Werner, but it will change its character. "We want to establish the Thüringen Rundfahrt as a race that is unique in Europe." He is not afraid that changing the rank and age of riders will mean a decrease in public interest. "It is no question that they will stay home just because they want to see a Jens Voigt or other stars, and don't have any other interest in cycling. We see the real cycling and sports fans. It was like that last year."
As the closing stage of the race, which will be held June 10 to 15, the Hainleite will run its traditional course of 180 kilometres over the Kyffäuser climb, ending with five laps circuit in Erfurt.
The stages of the 2008 Internationalen Thüringen Rundfahrt der U23:
Stage 1: Gotha circuit, 90km
Stage 2: Bad-Blankenburg - Bad Blankenburg, 150km
Stage 3: Masserberg - Masserberg (mountaintop finish), 130km
Stage 4: Gelenkwelle Stadtilm - Waltershausen, 160km
Stage 5: Bad Berka TT, 36km
Stage 6: Radklassiker Hainleite in Erfurt, 180km