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Stage 2 of Tour de Georgia launches from Statesboro
Christian Scott, 6, of Statesboro, shows off his bicycle before the Tour de Georgia race kicked off its second leg downtown on Tuesday, April 22. - photo by JAKE HALLMAN/Staff

            A healthy crowd lined the streets of downtown Statesboro Tuesday, trying to catch a glimpse of the start of Stage 2 of Tuesday's Tour de Georgia.

            About 150  riders from around the world turned right on North Main Street from East Main, heading out of town towards Augusta. The circuit lasted about seven minutes after two hours of pre-race activities in perfect weather conditions.

            "It's great," said Jacon Erker of the Symmetrics Cycling Team. "I live in Portland and it's just dumping in snow right now. I'm happy to be here."

            Fans and curious onlookers squirmed their way to the railings lining the street in order to catch a glimpse of some the more famous riders in cycling. The Tour de Georgia is widely considering a precursor to the summer's Tour de France.

            One spectator had made the journey from Tampa, Fla., a yearly pilgrimmage for he and his wife.

            "We try to make it every year," he said. "We at least try and see a couple of the early stages and this year we're even thinking about trying to catch the finish (in Atlanta)."

            Meanwhile, riders took time to sign autographs and meet bystanders prior to their official check-in to the event. Some were in familiar territory while others were not.

            "I was actualy here two years ago for a criterium after Tour de Georgia," said Australian Matthew Rice of the Jelly Belly team. "I like Georgia — it's a cool state."

            Said Lucas Euser of the Slipstream Chipolte team: "I don't know anything about (Statesboro). I don't know anything about the stage and we were just talking about it on the bus. We just drove in from Savannah and slept on the bus on the way over here. But it's gorgeous out and we're ready to go."

            Tuesday marked the first time Statesboro was included in the sixth annual race. Venders lined Siebald Street next to the Averitt Center for the Arts, peddling everything from teams jersey's to climate awareness.

            After a riders introduction, Michael Guido provided an invocation, followed by the National Anthem sung by Suzanna Samford. Georgia Southern football coach Chris Hatcher officially started the race with a starter gun while Freedom the bald eagle looked on.

            The peloton made a lap from East Main Street to East Grady Street, left on College Boulevard and then left on Savannah Avenue before turning on to North Main and disappearing from sight.

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