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'Send-off Ride' for Armstrong creates a stir

By JESSICA FISH

Correction (5/18/01): The downtown St. Petersburg post office is hosting a celebration Saturday for the U.S. Postal Service cycling team that will compete in the Tour de France. Kenny Labbe, a team member is scheduled to participate. This column incorrectly suggests that Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong might attend.

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 16, 2001


Many area bicycling fans are hoping to meet two-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong at the post office "Send-off Ride" on Saturday morning.

The U.S. Postal Service Cycling Team is poised for the upcoming stage race, in which it plans to put Armstrong in yellow for the third time.

The support of American fans on the internet and at U.S. events has been overwhelming.

Cyclists Ellen Kast and Mel Lucas say that all riders, "daisy pickers" to seasoned racers, are welcome to join in at North Shore Pool near St. Petersburg's bayfront at 8:30. Riders will leave North Shore Pool, proceeding to the Open Air post office at 76-4th Street North.

A nationally-televised Parade Lap Ride will be held at the post office, followed by a card signing, in which all riders will be able to sign a good luck card addressed to Armstrong. A member of the U.S. Postal Team will appear at the Open Air post office.

St. Petersburg is one of only five U.S. cities that uses bicycles to deliver the mail. Local riders say they are lucky to be able to participate in the Armstrong Send-Off, and some cyclists are traveling here from other parts of Florida.

For information, log on to www.usps.com.

MAD BEACH MAD DOG: Some riders will leave Armstrong's Open Air post office send-off and pedal directly to Madeira Beach to cheer on competitors in Saturday's Mighty Kids & Mighty Adults Triathlon. The site for the Mad Beach Mad Dog Triathlon weekend is Archibald Park on Gulf Boulevard, and races are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday.

Organizer York Somerville has volunteers signing up by the dozens. There will be $1,000 Cannondale bicycle giveaways. The 16th annual triathlon will include kids races Saturday, at 8 a.m.; an adult novice race, 10 a.m.; and the main event Sunday. Distances for the adults race Sunday will be swim .5 mile, bike 15 miles, run 3.1 miles.

Other divisions will include physically challenged, clydesdale male & female, collegiate, relay teams and fat-tire.

There will be many local competitors to cheer on, including Oldsmar's Chuck Coit, a firefighter from East Lake Fire & Rescue who scored a silver medal in the Firefighter State Games Triathlon last Saturday.

The St. Petersburg Bicycle Club will bring out a huge cheering section for the triathlon debut of Team Sinibaldi.

The squad will consist of local two-time Olympic cyclist John Sinibaldi, 87, and his sons, John Jr. and Bob, for the relay division Sunday at Mad Beach.

John Jr., 45, who started the team, is a long-time member of the St. Petersburg Bicycle Club. Bob, 44, known as "Dr. Bob," works with the handicapped as an adaptive physical education teacher at Walsingham Elementary School.

John Sr. is a 17-time U.S. national champion and a former member of the U.S. Olympic Cycling Team (1932, '36) who retired to St. Petersburg in the late 1970s. The race expo is a good one, and the elaborate post-race partying (music by the Fabulous Racoons) at Madeira Beach's Archibald Park is not to be missed.

For information, call Somerville, (727) 527-8869, or check out www.triyork.com.

GULF COAST TRIATHLON: The 19th annual event was held Saturday at Panama City Beach and designated as the Southeastern U.S. Championship.

Russian-born Alec Rukosuev won the triathlon for the sixth time with a performance of 4 hours, 3 minutes, 5 seconds. Kasey Carroll-Basso of Lutz captured the women's title in 4:36:22.

The race distances were swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles and run 13.1 miles. Fields were full months ago, and competitors came from all over the world.

Other division winners included: Lara Shaw, 28, Tampa, 4:36:10; George Altieri, 43, Clermont, 4:20:02; Lisa Purul, 27, Safety Harbor, 4:57:52; Bruce Buchanan, 60, Fernandina Beach, 5:00:26; Ryan Strickland, 18, Orange Park, 5:18:52; Christina Weisberg, 58, Cooper City, 7:03:30; Shirley Taylor, 67, Largo, 7:54:13; Bob Ranta, 69, Tampa, 6:24:49; and Larry Yost, 71, Treasure Island, 7:19:38.

Taylor and Yost are among the area's oldest triathletes to have attempted the half-Ironman race, competing in honor of late Ironman champion Jim Ward.

For complete Gulf Coast Triathlon results, including swim/bike/run splits, check out Fred Sommers' web site: www.triflorida.com.

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