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It’s Professional Cycling with Mint Juleps, Of Course.

Female CyclistThe Tour de Nez has a way of turning spectators into participants.

From June 17-20, the event’s cycling races and festivities move from Sparks to Reno and finally through Tahoe. Tour de Nez attendees will see a lightning quick time trial, cycling team tactics and a furious circuit race through the narrow streets of the Village at Northstar, but the race would not be complete without a tasty mint julep.

But what is more unique about the Tour de Nez is what attendees can do: race messenger-style bikes through the streets of Reno, straddle a clunker for  low-speed laps for a chance to win prizes, or saddle up and soak in the Tahoe scenery with a group of pros.

Even after cyclists climb off the bike, the party goes on with live music, an expo and food and drink sprinkled in between cycling events.

“The festivals include live music and big parties every day,” said Tim Healion, founder and race director of the Tour de Nez. “You can ride your bike all day in the Sierra then watch a killer bike race and party all night.”

The festival feel keeps the event true to its roots as a party that over time grew into a prestigious domestic cycling race.

“Every race I know started as a bike race, and then they had to figure out what to add to get people to come,” said Healion. “We did it backwards – we started out as a party for the first seven years, and then we added the bike race to make it more interesting.”

Today, the Tour de Nez is an important stop on the professional cycling circuit, attracting many of the top U.S. professional cycling teams including UnitedHealthcare (formerly Health Net), Kelly Benefit Strategies, Bissell, Jelly Belly and Fly V Australia.

Pros, masters, women and handcyclists will compete over three days at a time trial in Sparks and circuit races in downtown Reno and at Lake Tahoe’s Village at Northstar, all with the goal to be crowned Tour de Nez champion.

To properly sum up the experience, here’s what the 2007 Overall Champ had to say, “This race is awesome. The others are stupid.”

Well said.

2010 Schedule of Events

Thursday, June 17 – Sparks, Nev.

• Sparks Nugget Prologue Time Trial starting and finishing right in the middle of the craziest farmers market you’ll ever experience. The event starts at 5:00 p.m. with music and food to follow at the Sparks Farmers Market.

Young CyclersFriday, June 18 – Reno, Nev.

• Group ride with athletes in the morning with coffee stop.

• Downtown Reno Circuit Race that starts and finishes on 1st St. at West St. (Pro men/elite women/masters)

• National championship handcycle race.

• Races for clunkers, messengers, and kids at West Street Plaza on the Truckee River in Reno.

• Party afterwards at West Street Plaza.

Saturday, June 19 – Northstar-at-Tahoe, Calif.

• Village circuit race at the Village at Northstar-at-Tahoe for Pro men/women/handcycles/masters and Lance Armstrong Junior Road race Series.

• Village races for clunkers and kids.

• Expo, music, demos, food, festival, and party all in the Village at Northstar

Sunday, June 20

• Ride with the Pros

For more information and registration visit the Tour de Nez site.

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