Chris Horner becomes gran fondo ambassador

Radio Shack rider endorses Portland Echelon Gran Fondo

Oregon resident Chris Horner will promote Portland Gran Fondo.

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Planetz/Echelon adds a second US gran fondo for 2010. The Portland Echelon Gran Fondo takes riders through Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge on 26 September.

The Oregon event serves as a complement to the promoter’s inaugural gran fondo scheduled for May 23 in Napa Valley, California.

The events’ profiles are bolstered by the endorsement of professional cyclists Lucas Euser (Team SpiderTech powered by Planet Energy) and Chris Horner (Team RadioShack) who will serve as ambassadors of the group rides in Napa Valley and Portland, respectively.

“The events are in their hometown and state,” said Rebecca Kotch, media contact for Planetz/Echelon. “I think you’ll see that as we go out to find other locations, we’ve chosen well known athletes that are well-liked in their communities. It’s almost like you would see the Apolo Ohno of speed skating or the Lindsey Vonn of skiing, here in cycling. We want a rider that the community is inspired to ride with.”

The promoter plans to bring five additional events into action for 2011. The selected cities will be announced at a later this year. 

“We want them in major metropolitan areas,” Kotch said. “The world of gran fondo is exploding here in the US. All gran fondos are community focused but our events are fund raising focused. Ours is a non-profit that raises money for communities and organizations that are cancer focused.”

Registration is open for both Echelon Gran Fondo events and they are expected to host upwards of 1500 cyclists each. According to Kotch, the Napa Valley event is already three quarters full. Both events cater to all cycling levels by offering three routes with distances of 48, 96 and 160 kilometres.

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PlanetZ/Echelon plans to donate a majority of entry fees and contributions from participants and teams in Portland’s Echelon Gran Fondo to the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute and LIVESTRONG.