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Cyclists get started on the spring season

The spring season is under way for professional and amateur cyclists.

USA Cycling racers in various northern regions are under siege with snowstorms, arctic blasts of air and icy roads. Riders lucky enough to winter in warmer locations are happily logging in the preseason miles.

Even Lance Armstrong and his 2005 Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team squad of 28 riders had their final training camp several weeks ago in Austin, Texas.

Discovery Channel Pro Cycling Team recently had a special camp, which introduced the squad's new foreign riders, in an informal atmosphere of cross training and socializing with Armstrong.

At the end of the camp, a fit-looking Armstrong flew to Carson, Calif., where he easily won a muddy cyclocross race with his dismounting and running talents.

TOP ATHLETE: Armstrong, who has captured six Tour de France titles, is The Associated Press Male Athlete Of The Year for the third consecutive time.

"For me, it was a special year," Armstrong told reporters in Austin on Dec. 28. "It's always nice to win the Tour, but this year was simply special because I broke the record and made history."

Armstrong's spring racing schedule looks a bit different this year.

He is focusing on the European classics, such as Amstel Gold, Tour Of Flanders, Fleche Wallonne, Paris-Roubaix and Liege-Bastogne-Liege.

LARGO CYCLOCROSS RACES: Largo Recreation supervisor Lance Riddile and former professional Tony Prioli of Clearwater will play host Sunday to Race 1 in the Citrus City Cyclocross.

The 9 a.m. event is at Largo's Nature Preserve near East Bay Road and Highland Avenue. For information, call (727) 518-3021.

WINTER DUATHLON: Great Floridian Triathlon finisher Chris Moling of Inverness will play host to the Nature Coast Winter Duathlon.

The 2-mile run, 10-mile bike ride and 2-mile run is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Jan. 16 at Crystal River Mall near downtown Crystal River.

Moling says the event will kick off the Nature Coast Duathlon Series, and his Citrus County training partners expect to see competitors who are looking for a race to start their season.

The competition is USA Triathlon sanctioned, and all USAT rules will apply.

"Our group in Crystal River is mostly well known for the Crystal River Triathlon Series," Moling said. "We get many competitors from the bay area, including tons of St. Pete Mad Dog members.

"We have a lot to offer, like clean roads with little or no traffic during the races," he said. "People are very nice up here, and we hope it stays like a quiet little town. It's a great place to train."

To learn more about racing and training in Citrus County, call Moling, (352) 637-2475.

CHILLY WILLY DUATHLON: Multisport enthusiasts looking for a preseason tune-up race might want to consider this duathlon.

The 2-mile run, 10-mile bike ride and 2-mile run is at 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 12 at Fort DeSoto Park. Individual competitors and relay teams are welcome at the USAT sanctioned event.

For information, call Joe Fernandez, (813) 874-7223; or Florida Bicycle Sports, (727) 823-7775; or go online to www.floridabicyclesports.com.

ORLANDO CRITERIUM: USA Cycling racers are preparing for the Sunday Morning Orlando Spring Criteriums, ongoing through Feb. 13.

Racing is in A, B and C groups, combining some USA Cycling categories. The course is located at the V.A. Health Center, near East Colonial Drive and 426, in Winter Park.

For information, call (888) 281-0533 or go online to www.buttar.com.

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