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Tour de Trump cycle race opens this weekend

By JONATHAN FERZIGER

ALBANY, N.Y. -- The 10-day, $250,000 Tour de Trump begins Saturday, an event real estate mogul Donald Trump hopes to make a staple on the international cycling circuit.

'We intend to make this every bit as big as the Tour de France,' said Trump, a billionaire not given to understatement.

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Trump was flanked Thursday by U.S. cycling great Greg LeMond, Holland's Stephen Rooks and the Soviet Union's Viatcheslav Ekimov, considered the world's top amateur. LeMond, the 1986 Tour de France champ, now lives in Belgium.

'Every time I race in the United States, I feel pressure to win,' he said.

Belgian Eric Vanderaerden is expected to do well in the sprints and Colombian Alvaro Mejia is a favorite in the hills.

The race includes amateur teams from the United States, Soviet Union, Holland, Sweden, Canada, Mexico, Czechoslovakia and West Germany.

The 837-mile race will take its 120 racers through New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. They will tracel from the midtown streets of New York City, past Amish Country, across the bay from Washington, D.C., and finally to Trump's Atlantic City casino finish line May 14.

Ekimov, an amateur from the Soviet Union, is favored to win the 2-mile prologue through the streets of Albany, which starts 5:30 p.m. EDT Friday.

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Professional teams racing in the Tour de Trump are 7-Eleven (U.S.), Panasonic-Isostar (Holland), Ryalcao-Postobon (Colombia), Coors Light-ADR (US-Belgium), Wheaties-Schwinn (U.S.), Eurocar-Vetta (Switzerland), PDM (Holland) and Bilton (England).

Trump announced New York Gov. Mario Cuomo would fire the starter's pistol for the opening 110-mile stage from Albany to New Paltz. However, Cuomo's office vetoed the idea.

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