tampabay.com

OLN's Tour coverage gaining popularity

By JESSICA FISH
Published July 5, 2006


Vacationing cyclists enjoyed local Fourth of July holiday rides this week, including Monday's St. Petersburg Bicycle Club ride, which attracted nearly 75 riders to Northshore Pool Park.

After the early morning pacelines made their way through Pinellas County, many riders said they planned to retreat into the air conditioning, setting up their family rooms for some serious Tour de France viewing.

"I just got a big plasma screen, and I've got a bunch of SPBC riders coming to my Tour de France party today," Bill "Boston Bill" Hansbury said. "We are happy that George Hincapie took the jersey, after his crash at Paris-Roubaix. The American riders are expected to do well, and it's the gap they will fill after Lance Armstrong."

The popularity of OLN's Tour de France coverage is at an all-time high in the United States, and 200 area cyclists recall being entertained by OLN commentator Bob Roll, who appeared at Action Wheelsports in Pinellas Park last winter.

For information on enhanced Tour coverage, including daily stage winners, videos and overall standings, check out www.olntv.com.

LEMOND STARTED IT ALL: Among the cycling trivia questions asked at recent Tour de France viewing parties was: Who was the first American to win the Tour?

The correct answer is Greg LeMond, the legendary American cyclist who won the race in 1986, exactly 20 years ago.

Fans know LeMond won again in 1989 with his unforgettable margin of 8 seconds over Frenchman Laurent Fignon, and he won again for a third time in 1990 before retiring from competitive cycling.

Now the Tour de Cure American Diabetes Association Honorary Chairperson, LeMond still lends his name to worthy causes while working to promote his bicycle company, LeMond Racing Cycles, which is part of Trek Bicycles, the largest bicycle manufacturer in the United States.

LANCE RIDING RAGBRAI: Seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong has announced he will join 10,000 other cyclists on July 23-29 at the seven-day RAGBRAI (The Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa).

Sponsored by the Des Moines Register, RAGBRAI has been considered the oldest, longest and largest touring cycling event in the United States.

Locals will ride the 33rd edition, including Kip and Carol Jean Vosburgh of Treasure Island, who have already traveled to the Des Moines area hoping to ride the preride warmup events with Armstrong.

"My Julys are free now," Armstrong said last week in a telephone interview with reporter John Carlson of the Des Moines Register.

"He's not sure which portion of the week he'll ride," Carlson said. "Lance has heard about RAGBRAI for years, and he hopes to be on the ride for several days."

According to Carlson's report, Armstrong, a 34-year-old cancer survivor, also plans to meet with Iowans and encourage them to question presidential candidates campaigning prior to the 2008 caucuses about cancer research funding.

To learn more about the Lance Armstrong Livestrong Foundation visit www.laf.org.

SHARE THE ROAD: 2006 Share the Road Ride will be held on Sunday at Northshore Pool Park in St. Petersburg at 8 a.m. All riders and volunteers are welcome. There are 10-, 20-, 40- and 62-mile routes planned.

The Share the Road Ride is not a race. It is a mass-start ride designed to bring awareness that bicycles share the road with other vehicles.

Appropriate cycling equipment, including helmets, water bottles and safe-working bicycles (any style) are recommended. Stop into your local bike shop for a summer tuneup, if needed. Share the Road Ride registration includes a map, collectors T-shirt, tech support and refreshments. For details go to www.sharetheroad ride.org.

MORTON PLANT MEASE TRIATHLON: Race director Philip Lahaye will join with two-time Ironman Triathlon champion Spencer Smith and three-time Ironman Triathlon champion Heather Gollnick to host the inaugural Morton Plant Mease Triathlon (swim one-third mile, bike 13 miles, and run 3.1 miles) at 7 a.m., on Sunday, July 16, at Sand Key Park in Clearwater.

The event is a fundraiser for the Morton Plant Mease Foundation and is sanctioned by USA Triathlon.

"This is a tremendous opportunity to promote and benefit our community in what we hope will grow into one of the top triathlons in the nation," said Bryan Stanley, chair of the Morton Plant Mease Foundation's Skip Cline Young Leadership Society, presenters of the triathlon.

To register or volunteer, call Lahaye at (727) 820-7791 or e-mail Lahaye at triathlon@baycare.org.

TOP GUN TRIATHLON: Tampa's Joe Fernandez has announced that the Top Gun Triathlon is set for 7:30 a.m. on Aug. 5 at Fort DeSoto Park. Race distances are swim one-quarter of a mile, bike 10 miles and run 3.1 miles. Awards are five deep for USA Triathlon divisions, including relay teams.

"This year, our Top Gun event will be at North Beach, which is a beautiful venue," organizer Freddie Rzymek said. "The swim is in the Gulf, and there is a long run from the swim exit to the transition area. This race is challenging. The bike segment is on a closed course, and the run in on hard-packed sand coming back on the return. Top Gun is truly a great first-timers course. Rookies are encouraged to enter, and they will enjoy our awards party after the race."

Call Val at Outspoken Bike Shop, the host bicycle shop, with any technical questions at (727) 518-2329.

For registration information, check out www.topguntriathlon.com or call Fernandez at (813) 8794-7223.