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Planning is getting underway in eight Iowa cities for a massive tourism influx after organizers of the annual bicycle ride across Iowa unveiled their list of host cities over the weekend.

RAGBRAI will start in the northwest Iowa town of Le Mars in July, with overnight stops in Storm Lake, Fort Dodge, Iowa Falls, Waterloo, Anamosa and Maquoketa. The final stop is on the Mississippi River in Clinton.

Le Mars Mayor Dick Kirchoff says he’s “totally elated” by the news his community will be the starting point. “I’m so happy for us in Le Mars that we were able to accomplish this,” Mayor Kirchoff says. “We’ve worked hard on it for quite a number of years to try to get it and never have. It’s going to be a great asset to our town. It’s going to be a lot of work but the people of Le Mars know how to work.”

Kirchoff says a RAGBRAI organizing committee will begin work almost immediately. Mark Sturgeon, a member of the Plymouth County Cyclists Club, attended the announcement event held in Des Moines on Saturday night. Sturgeon says the group from Le Mars was ecstatic.

“It’s just such a great thing for the town and for the whole area, really,” Sturgeon says. “The way they brought it up is, they were talking about a gentleman who played an integral role in it and how he liked ice cream so much. They broke tradition and did not even go out of order and just said, ‘We’re going to spoil the secret — we’re starting in the ice cream capital of the world.'”


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