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Tour de Georgia, 2006
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Fast Facts:Where: Various
When: Third week in April
What: Staged bicycle race throughout Georgia

For the 2006 Tour de Georgia the major event sponsor has changed to from Dodge to Ford, but little else has changed about the race itself, other than the normal adjustments in starting and ending towns that makes each year unique. This year the Tour de Georgia runs from the bluffs overlooking the Savannah River in Augusta (Augusta hotels) to Georgia's High Point, Brasstown Bald. In between it winds its way through rolling hills and historic townships into the North Georgia Mountains. This world-class professional cycling event is also a rolling festival of community activities.

Tour de Georgia stages, 2006
From its start in Augusta, Georgia to its finish six days and 650 miles later in Alpharetta, Georgia (Alpharetta hotels), the Tour de
Georgia has quickly become a major Spring event, attracting hundreds of thousands fans throughout the route. Spectators tend to migrate to the larger cities, at the start and end of the race.

The 2004 edition attracted the top echelon of professional cyclists, including world champions like Italian Mario Cipollini, Olympic medallists such as American Bobby Julich and Lance Armstrong, six-time Tour de France winner. Armstrong put a decisive claim on the 2004 winner’s jersey by edging out CSC’s Jens Voigt of Germany and American Chris Horner of Webcor by just over a minute.

In 2005 all eyes were on Lance Armstrong, America's favorite cyclist, but as the race neared its conclusion Lance's teammate, Tom Danielson held the lead, and in spite of being a strong competitor, Lance demonstrated his devotion to the team by working for a first place finish for Danielson.

The 2006 Ford Tour de Georgia starts Tuesday, April 18, in downtown Augusta, challenging cyclists as they ride through the Georgia Piedmont to Macon (Macon hotels).

Stage Two begins in Fayetteville (Fayetteville hotels), south of Atlanta, heading northwest to Rome (Rome hotels). Stage Three (April 20) is an Individual Time Trial run from Chickamauga, Georgia to Chattanooga, Tennessee, the first city to host the event outside Georgia.

Two mountain stages begin in Dalton, (Dalton hotels) in the foothills of Georgia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Riders begin a steady climb toward the ominous Fort Mountain 2000 feet above Snake Creek Valley before finishing in the Georgia Gold Rush town of Dahlonega (Dahlonega hotels).

The most popular stages come on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday, April 22, 2006, (Stage Five) is one of the toughest racing days in the world. Cyclists climb from Blairsville (in the Blue Ridge Mountains) to a Brasstown Bald finish. The 3.5 mile road to Brasstown Bald has intense pitch changes and wicked switchbacks ensuring an exhilarating finish at the top of Georgia’s highest peak. The sixth and final stage begins in Cumming (Cumming hotels) heading south to an exciting finishing circuit finale in Alpharetta.

Blairsville has some motels, but they will fill up quickly. As an alternative, check out the hotels and motels in Blue Ridge, Georgia.

Popular American racer Lance Armstrong in Rome in 2004
Lance Armstrong in Rome, Georgia in 2004
What's the best way to see the race?

Unfortunately, since Saturday and Sunday are so popular it is next to impossible to find a good viewing position. So here is our recommendation: Take Friday off, and head for Dalton, Georgia Thursday night. The Dalton CVB (Convention and Visitors Bureau) has made arrangements with local hotels for special rates. Once settled in your room, head on over to the Dalton Depot Restaurant
At the start of the race in downtown, the cyclists will begin with a "neutral start" at 10:30 a.m. at the intersection of Hamilton and King, loop once to the actual start at then "head for the hills," namely, Fort Mountain east of Chatsworth, Georgia. Last year we tried to beat the racers from Dalton to Chatsworth, barely making it there in time to set up and take a picture. Instead, head for Ellijay along U. S. 76 and get in position on North Ave. Once the racers come through, head for Woody Lake in Suches. If you know the area, then you know the back way (perhaps even hiking to Woody Gap along the Appalachian Trail). The cyclists will pass by twice, each time competing in a "King of the Mountain" competition.

The Tour's official beneficiary is the Georgia Cancer Coalition (GCC), and the race promotes a healthy lifestyle at its Healthy Georgia Expo. Started in 2003 The Dodge Tour de Georgia is owned and operated by the Georgia Partnership for Economic Development.

ChargesThere is no charge to view the race.

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