This coming week-end, yet another important national tour besides the Tour de France will be get underway. On Saturday in Brest, riders will set out on the Grande Boucle through France, and one day later, teams will be at the start line of the highly demanding Österreich-Rundfahrt (Tour of Austria).
Strong rivalry and a challenging route at the historical tour through the Alpine Republic, granted Hors Catégorie status by the UCI, await the riders. A total of nine ProTour teams are sending contingents to Austria: Quick Step, Silence-Lotto , Gerolsteiner, Milram, Lampre, Astana, Team CSC, Rabobank and Team Columbia.
The anniversary tour begins on Sunday with a short prologue in Klausen, South Tyrol. Following the race start in Italy, the third stage features a hard mountain top finish at the Kitzbüheler Horn for the peloton, which may see the general Classification decided one day later with the race crossing the Grossglockner summit. After an individual time trial around Lake Neusiedl on the penultimate day, the riders will be happy to arrive in front of the City Hall in Vienna after a total of 1,082 kilometres raced.
"For the big teams, the Tour of Austria is very important," said Milram Team Manager Gerry Van Gerwen. "Besides the Tour de France, we have the opportunity to participate in a very demanding stage race including a strong line-up. Especially our young riders can take advantage of that."
The focus of Team Milram at the 60. Tour of Austria lies therefore on its young hopefuls. Leading the charge will be Matej Jurco, who will be wearing the jersey of Slovakian Champion for the first time. German riders include young talents Artur Gajek, Christian Kux, Dominik Roels and Sebastian Schwager. The full line-up is: Andriy Grivko, Christian Kux, Artur Gajek, Dominik Roels, Luca Barla, Martin Velits, Matej Jurco and Sebastian Schwager.
As for Team Gerolsteiner, the German team will be led by Davide Rebellin and Paco Wrolich. They will be accompanied by: Oscar Gatto, Tim Klinger, Volker Ordowski, Matthias Ruß, Stephan Schreck and Tom Stamsnijder.
The 2008 Österreich-Rundfahrt stages are:
July 6, 2008 - Prologue (ITT): Klausen/Chiusa (ITA), 3.3 km
July 7, 2008 - Stage 1: Klausen - Toblach/ Dobbiaco (ITA), 171.2 km
July 8, 2008 - Stage 2: Toblach - Kitzbüheler Horn (AUT), 169.6 km
July 9, 2008 - Stage 3: Kitzbühel - Prägraten am Großvenediger, 183.7 km
July 10, 2008 - Stage 4: Lienz - Wolfsberg, 212.8 km
July 11, 2008 - Stage 5: Wiener Neustadt - Bad Vöslau, 179.7 km
July 12, 2008 - Stage 6: Podersdorf on Lake Neusiedl (ITT), 25.9 km
July 13, 2008 - Stage 7: Podersdorf on Lake Neusiedl - Vienna, 128.5 km
Total: 1.081,9 km