Cyclists want to see sport grow in the United States

Cycling remains a relatively new sport in the United States, but thanks to sponsors and the public, it has gotten more attention in recent years.

That is the perception of Óscar Freire Gómez, a Spanish cyclist who is among the best in Europe. Freire participated in a Sacramento press conference last Thursday to promote the Amgen Tour of California, which will include Modesto, Merced, Clovis and Visalia in its route.

"Cycling is a sport that has grown a lot in the United States and continues to progresss," said Freire, who is participating in his second Tour of California. "A proof of that is the Tour of California, which is one of the most prestigious cycling events in this country."

He said the California event has increased in its quality of competition, drawing in major cyclists from Europe and the United States. Six-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is among the competitors.

Another top rider is Spain's Carlos Sastre Candil.

"The Tour of California is the biggest proof of the importance that cycling has gained in the United States, and it surprises me to see so many people interested here in Sacramento and throughout the state," said Sastre. "I think this year's competition will be one of the best."