The following is reprinted from here.

VeloNews sees expanded interest for 2006 Official Tour de France Guide

PARIS, France -- It sounds unlikely but even after the retirement of Lance Armstong, interest in the Official Guide to the Tour de France produced by VeloNews is considerably ahead of what it was at the same time last year. With two weeks left until space close, the 2006 Official Tour Guide has already sold more advertising pages, the newsstand draw has approximately doubled, bike shop interest is at a record high, and the issue looks likely to set an all-time record for paid circulation for the ABC-audited magazine.

While VeloNews's long-time status as the official publication of the world's biggest bicycle race and the Official Tour Guide's increased distribution are certainly positive factors, interest in the Tour de France stateside is at an all-time record for a variety of other factors: 1) Americans Floyd Landis, Levi Leiphimer and George Hincapie are all legitimate yellow-jersey candidates. 2) Media coverage, including OLN's well-received live television effort, looks set to expand upon already record levels. The Tour de France reports that 213 U.S. media representitives have requested credentials so far for the July race -- well ahead of last year's pace. 3) There is a booming interest in road cycling in general, with participation and dollar sales of road bikes setting records so far this spring. According to the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association, the road market grew by 29% in 2005, and is up 285% over five years. The trend continues this year, as evidenced by numerous manufacturers being out-of-stock on high-end road bikes, record event participation, and the reported 1 million+ spectators who lined the course of the Amgen Tour of California in February.

The 2006 Official Guide to the Tour de France is a high-quality, perfect-bound magazine of 180 pages. Published in June prior to the Tour starting in Strasbourg on July 1, the Guide is packed with features, photos and stats on the world's largest annual sporting event. This year's Guide offers a number of enhancements, including exclusive interviews with pre-race favorites Ivan Basso, Floyd Landis, Alexander Vinokourov, Levi Leipheimer and George Hincapie; a review of the nine years that Jan Ulrich has been in the hunt for yellow; Tom Boonen's increased ambitions beyond just the sprinter's green jersey; a first-hand look inside the French anti-doping lab that handles samples taken at the Tour; and an insider's analysis of the Tour's key climbs, where the race will be won and lost by 37-time veteran Tour journalist John Wilcockson.

The publication also includes a special section on the North American riders and TV schedules. Besides pages of information on the teams, the athletes, the bicycles and the 21 stages of the 2006 Tour de France, the Guide will feature behind-the-scenes stories on the Tour and stunning pictures by the Tour's leading photographers. "This is a must-buy souvenir edition for every cycling fan," explains VeloNews advertising director Nick Ramey.

The Official Guide gives advertisers an exceptional opportunity to reach their key customers, who will study every page, every day during the Tour's month-long competition. The Guide is the indispensable armchair companion for all cycling fans in July, who according to reader surveys consistently call it a reader favorite. Simply put, VeloNews's Official Guide to the Tour de France offers advertisers the greatest concentrated single exposure in the cycling market.

Tour de France race director Jean-Marie Leblanc explains, "As America's leading bicycle racing publication, VeloNews has been the perfect partner for the Tour de France for many years. They understand the Tour. We have been extremely pleased with the Official Guide produced by VeloNews and are very excited to see the success of the 2006 edition."

Adds Ramey, "They said last year's Tour mania was simply the result of the Lance ‘effect,' but what explains the increased interest this year? It's simply un-real. Could it be that the Tour de France is finally being recognized here as the world's preeminent annual sporting event?"