Ten members of the nationally ranked Whitman Cycling Club will be among the elite cyclers competing in the 2008 Tour of Walla Walla bike race April 18-20.

“We are looking forward to racing in front of a home crowd,” said Mia Huth, Whitman Cycling Club president. “We’re excited about the opportunity not only to compete against some of the best riders in the Northwest, but also to race in a big field. It’s a tough race, and it will be great preparation for nationals.We're so grateful for the the support we've gotten from Orbea, the Tour of Walla Walla and the other sponsors who are giving us this opportunity."

Beth Swanson, marketing director for the tour, thinks it’s a natural combination and is so committed to seeing the club race in the tour that she has put together a fund-raising campaign to pay the team’s entrance fees.

“They’re here in town, they’re consistently ranked as top in the nation and they just should be associated with Tour of Walla Walla,” said Swanson, adding that the collegiate race schedule this year allows the team to stay in Walla Walla and participate in the race.

Orbea USA, a bike company that sponsors the Whitman team, has donated two $1,500 Aqua Orbea bikes to be raffled, with funds raised going to the team’s fees. The team will be selling tickets for $5 each from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Reid Campus Center on April 16; Allegro Cyclery, located at 15 S. Spokane St., is also selling tickets, and they can be purchased by contacting Swanson at bethswanson@charter.net. The race is also donating the profits from the annual spaghetti feed, held in Ye Towne Hall, Waitsburg, on April 19 from 4 to 8 p.m.

The annual Tour of Walla Walla, in its twelfth year, is a three-day, four-stage cycling race. Approximately 500 riders are expected to compete for the $10,000 purse this year, said Swanson. For more information, visit www.tofww.org.

CONTACT: Lenel Parish, Whitman College News Service, (509) 527-5156

Email: parishlj@whitman.edu