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First foreign start for Tour de Suisse

Next year's Tour will involve almost 1,500 kilometres of racing

(Keystone)

Next year's Tour de Suisse cycling race will start outside Switzerland for the first time in the event's history.

The 2001 race is to begin in the German village of Rust, about 60 kilometres north of the Swiss city of Basel.

Rust is known mainly for the nearby Europa amusement park, but the organisers of the Tour de Suisse are keeping fun to a minimum for the cyclists themselves, with the race stretching for some 1,500 kilometres before drawing to a close in Lausanne.

The 2001 course will involve three sprints, five medium-hard to hard stages and two time trials. The added emphasis on sprinting is aimed at correcting what the organisers thought was an oversight of the 2000 Tour.

"We wanted to give the sprinters a chance to show what they can do, which wasn't the case this year," explained the Tour's sporting director Tony Rominger. He added that he expected the decisive stage to be the 30-kilometre mountain time trial from Sion to Crans Montana.

A stage finish at the top of a mountain pass will be another first for this year's Tour with the fifth day of racing culminating at the summit of the Gotthard.

As well as raising the altitude, marketing company IMG Switzerland hopes to increase the budget for the race. After raising SFr 5 million for this year's Tour, the firm are reckoning on an increase of half a million francs in 2001, with most of the money coming from sponsors.

swissinfo with agencies


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