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Bicycle racers roll through Chambersburg

June 27, 2008|By CHRIS CARTER

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- Cycling enthusiast Troy Shatzer could not witness the first annual Tour of Pennsylvania as it rolled through Chambersburg Thursday.

Fortunately, his 11-year-old son, Noah, got it on film.

"I'm here because my husband loves the Tour de France," said Troy's wife, Laura Shatzer, 31, of Chambersburg. "When we found out he was working, my oldest son (Noah) wanted to come out and watch it so he could tell (Troy) all about it."

The Shatzers were among the dozens that lined Philadelphia Avenue for a 1.7-mile sprint. Others caught the cyclists as they blitzed through the town square and turned onto U.S. 30.

The cyclists were in and out of town in a matter of minutes as they headed west toward the finish line in Bedford, Pa. The sprint began at Roland Avenue and connected with windy Philadelphia Avenue, where many spectators gathered around Wilson College.

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"I heard about it and I like biking," said Alex Arthur, 15, of Tallahassee, Fla. "I really wanted to come and check it out."

Arthur is in town visiting his aunt, Rachel Hull, 48, until Aug. 5.

"It's a wonderful thing," Hull said. "Anything that causes enthusiasm throughout the community is great."

Denny Osterman, 65, of Chambersburg, said he hasn't been on a bike in about two decades. During his athletic prime, Osterman participated in centuries -- 100-mile-long rides -- but he said he was never as good as the world-class cyclists he saw Thursday.

The cyclists ranged in age from 18 to 24 and came from eight countries, including the United States.

Osterman's daughter, Holly Hoover, 38, of Chambersburg, brought her two children -- Matt, 8, and Kelly, 4 -- to see the action.

"I'm interested because my dad raced when I was growing up," Hoover said. "Plus, it's something to do with the kids."

Even the Wilson College Child Care Center grade-school students broke away from regular activities to see the historical event as it passed through at lunchtime.

"The kids didn't want to miss it, so they brought their lunches with them," co-teacher Sherry Hastings said. "It's something different, something pretty cool."

State and local police provided a rolling road block for the cyclists, who briefly interrupted traffic. The event went smoothly, except for a few honks from impatient drivers.

"Everyone was cooperative, given the complexity and the logistics," said race official John Bauer, 57, of Philadelphia. "People were nice and very friendly."

Thursday's 104-mile leg began in Camp Hill, Pa., and was the third of six stages in the Tour of Pennsylvania.

A group of eight cyclists broke away from the pack as they hit the stage's second sprint that began at Roland. Hours later, James Driscoll, of Jericho, Vt., got the stage win in 4 hours, 13 minutes and 55 seconds.

Steven Van Vooren, of Belgium, leads the Tour by 3 seconds over Keven Lacombe, of Quebec.

The 420-mile event began in Philadelphia on Tuesday and will conclude Sunday in Pittsburgh -- part of the Pittsburgh 250, celebrating the anniversary of the construction of Fort Pitt in 1758.

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