By Tim Maloney, European Editor
Big time professional cycling for both men and women is coming to Austin, Texas, the hometown of seven time Tour De France winner Lance Armstrong next June. The Austin International is a new race that has already earned a prestigious 1.1 UCI rating for its first edition. Executive Director of the Austin Sports Commission Matthew Payne declared "On behalf of the City of Austin, the Austin Sports Commission is very excited to welcome the Austin International in June 2007. It will be one of the first international sporting events ever hosted in Austin and will continue to distinguish our city as a true global destination. It will be a great new event for our corporate sponsors, the city of Austin and all of the avid cyclists that are proud to call Austin their home."
The 2007 Austin International, slated for June 17, 2007, will feature a pro men's and women's race and will be evaluated as a potential Women's World Cup event for 2008.
The Austin International is organized by g4 Productions, a highly experienced team of four women who were instrumental in the success of the USPRO Championships and Liberty Classic in Philadelphia, the inaugural edition of the Tour de Georgia among many other international cycling events in the USA.
Moving on from their previous affiliation, the Austin International is the first major venture for g4 Productions. "We are very proud that the Austin International has received a 1.1 from the UCI. It is rare for a first year event to receive such a high ranking but we have put a lot of effort into the organization and planning of this race," said Robin Morton, President of g4 Productions. "The course for the Austin International is very challenging and technical and should be very popular with the teams. Additionally, we are also very pleased that our race will be included in the new USA Cycling Professional Tour, immediately recognizing the Austin International as one of the premier cycling races in America."
USA Cycling welcomed g4's Austin International to the growing list of world class American races that will make up their ambitious new USA Cycling Professional Tour in 2007. Steve Johnson, chief executive officer of USA Cycling stated that "USA Cycling is very excited about the commitment that Austin has made to support and showcase professional men's and women's racing. Austin has a great history of supporting world class bike racing and we are elated to see Austin back on the calendar. We trust and hope the Austin International will become a mainstay on the USA Cycling Professional Tour attracting some of the top teams and riders in the world. We are very hopeful that the women's race will become one of the prestigious World Cup races in the very near future."
Local Austin International supporter Hill Able, owner of Austin's Bicycle Sport Shop and President of mountain bike advocacy group International Mountain Bike Association stated that "Austin, Texas is a world class cycling city and the announcement of the Austin International race coming to town is solid confirmation of that fact. Austinites are some of the healthiest, most active people in the world and riding bicycles is a core part of their lifestyles. The race is sure to be a huge success and we look forward to hosting some of the best cyclists in the world next June."