Tour De Nez Cycling Festival Moving Focus To Tahoe

TRUCKEE, Calif. (AP) - The Tour de Nez bicycle races and festival kicks off its 16th year this week with a new setting for many of the events.

As has been the case in past years, Reno, Nev., will host some events, including the initial ones Tuesday and Wednesday. But most
of the competition has crept up the side of the Sierra to Truckee and the north shore of Lake Tahoe.

"We are thrilled to be hosting a lot of the events here," Northstar executive Julie Mauer said.

"We have positioned ourselves as the (mountain bike) mecca in
the Tahoe area. ... The Tour de Nez dovetails nicely with that."

Along with the gradual move to the outskirts of Truckee, the Tour de Nez, which originated as a one-day affair in a Reno coffee house's parking lot in the early '90s, has become something of a road cyclist's Sea Otter Classic, the mostly mountain bike fest that takes place outside Monterey each April.

The Tour de Nez, along with racing, will have expos, trade fares, clinics, bike swaps, music and other diversions.

"We sponsor a booth at Sea Otter, and that's been huge for use in terms of exposure," Mauer told the San Francisco Chronicle. "We're hoping this (the Tour de Nez) does the same. ... (Cycling enthusiasts) are such a passionate audience, and there's a fair amount of crossover."

The Tour de Nez kicks off with an open-to-the-public meet-and-greet barbecue Tuesday followed by a pro criterium, the annual Clunker Classic (for 35-pound and bigger bikes) and kids' races Wednesday evening, all of which takes place at the Grand Sierra Resort in Reno.

On June 19, the event settles into Northstar Village for the remainder of the six-day run.

The highlight of the first day there is the late-morning pro time trial, an event wherein spectators can get a close glimpse of individual riders from such top-ranked U.S.-based teams as Health Net, Bissel, BMC Racing, Toyota United, Jelly Belly and Kelly Benefits. Later, the cyclists head to Truckee for an evening criterium.

On June 20, the 70-mile circuit race - consisting of 10 hilly laps through the Northstar property - takes center stage. Also, the expo officially opens and the public is invited to partake in the music-driven after-party that evening.

June 21 has a little bit of something for everyone. The day begins with a round-Tahoe citizens' Century Ride, continues with expo activities and another Clunker Classic and more kids' races, builds momentum with Masters circuit races in the early afternoon, hits its stride in the late afternoon when riders from Team High Road, Team Tibco and Proman-Paradigm compete in the Tour de Nez's first women's pro race and reaches its peak with a twilight circuit race for the pro men.

The event concludes June 22, with a ride with the pros event.

As Tour de Nez founder and director Tim Healion likes to say, "This is an event for anyone who loves anything to do with bikes."
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On the net:
Tour de Nez: www.tourdenez.com

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Information from: San Francisco Chronicle,
http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-06-16-08 1649EDT


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