Southeast racers: Tour of Austria

Butler racing the Tour of Austria

While the cycling world’s focus is on the Tour de France there is another national tour being contested– the Tour of Austria. Obviously overshadowed by the Tour de France, this eight day stage race takes the riders over some challenging terrain and gives the neo-pros and riders not selected to their respective team’s Tour squad the opportunity to keep their legs sharp.

South Carolina and specifically Greenville has two racers at the Tour of Austria: BMC’s Chris Butler and HTC-Columbia’s Craig Lewis.

Butler is a neo-pro who has just graduated from Furman University and Lewis has been a pro for four years and as been a member of the Garmin team before transferring to HTC-Columbia in 2008.

Yesterday’s stage 1 went to super-sprinter Andre Greipel of HTC-Columbia. The result put him into the leader’s jersey.

In today stage 2 the riders faced a mountain top finish. No surprise Ricardo Ricco took the stage win and the leader’s jersey. In a post-stage Twitter update Lewis said, “Rough trip up the Kitzbuheler! Trying to hang with Ricco, not such a good idea! Once into the red on 20% grades there was no coming back.”

When the damage was done Lewis finished in 24th place almost five minutes behind Ricco and BMC’s Butler came across in 37th – 6:39 back.

Check out Craig Lewis’ blog on