• Thu July 05 2007
  • Posted Jul 5, 2007
For many cycling enthusiasts, the best substitute for the Tour de France is to become their own Lance. USA Cycling, the national governing body, sold almost 60,000 individual licenses last year, a jump of more than 6% from 2005. (A USAC license allows a rider to compete in sanctioned races.) Charity rides are also big. This year's National Multiple Sclerosis MS Bike Ride series drew more than 100,000 cyclists. In Arizona, an estimated 10,000 cyclists are looking ahead to El Tour de Tucson on Nov. 17. The 109-mile ride around the perimeter of the city has something the French Tour lacks: riders are treated to Krispy Kreme donuts. People "are not riding to be a Greg LeMond or Lance. They are riding because of the love of cycling, because it is environmentally friendly," race founder and director Richard DeBernardis says. "It's a means to dealing with our transportation issues and because it's something they can achieve. They'll ride without their heroes." Even the Tour de France's biggest name is skipping the last week of this year's race. Armstrong is joining 10,000 citizen riders July 22-28 for the 472-mile Register's Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa, sponsored by The Des Moines Register. (The Register, like USA TODAY, is owned by Gannett Co.) The Tour de France ends in Paris on July 29. Many fans, however, will still tune in to Versus or cycling websites to follow the Tour de France. "They do keep coming back," VeloNews' Pelkey says. "Sometimes I wonder why, until I watch a (mountain) stage up the Stelvio or the Galibier and remember just how beautiful this sport can be. That said, I long for the days when it becomes clean again because the racing is better and more human." Read the whole article here

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