Tour de France has Local Cyclists Spinning
Posted July 17, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT
RALEIGH — Hundreds of athletes clad in sleek suits are taking on the challenge, the Tour de France. It's the biggest annual sports event in the world. A rider from North Carolina is in contention. The world is watching, and bike fever is catching.
In the world of cycling, it's the Super Bowl, or better yet, the World Cup. Only the fastest and the strongest cyclists are good enough to compete in the Tour de France. Everyone else can only watch.
It is the premier bicycle race in the world. Twenty-three days, hundreds of miles, and a variety of terrain make the Tour de France a test of skill and endurance. It's an event that has local cyclists spinning.
"We ride three or four times a week and everybody wants to know what's going on," says cyclist Kevin Coggins, "and we all talk about who we think is gonna win and who do we think is doing the best in the tour."
Coggins is the owner of theSpin Cyclein Cary. He's been sharing the excitement with other cycling enthusiasts, and like many others, has been keeping up with the race via the Internet.
TheTour de Francehas its own official web site, and then there are other Web sites that follow the tour and have live minute by minute updates.
Many enthusiasts are looking for updates on George Hincapie of Charlotte, who was in second place going into Saturday's time trial.
"It's fantastic to see somebody local from Charlotte who is right there at the top of the world in terms of his ability," says cyclist Alan Egge.
Hincapie may have a tough time staying on top when the tour hits its mountainous stages next week. But local cyclists say it's an amazing feat just to make it to the Tour de France in the first place.
Another American, Bobby Julich is also expected to do well. He's from Colorado, and is supposed to be an excellent mountain climber. Local cyclists, meanwhile, are gearing up for their own challenge this weekend. It's the North Carolina Bicycle Club's "Summer Rally" on Sunday. It starts at 8:00 a.m. at MacGregor Village in Cary. Hundreds are expected to ride.