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RAAM racers depart

At 9 am on Sunday morning, 30 solo racers for an epic transcontinental journey in Oceanside, California, as part of the Race Across America (RAAM). The race covers 3,047 miles over the Rockies and the Appalachians, through the desert and across the plains and ends in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Four teams of four riders each departed for a shorter race - to Flagstaff, Arizona.

Returning winner, Daniel Wyss of Switzerland, three-time champion, Wolfgang Fashing of Austria, and two-time champion Jure Robic of Slovenia are expected to battle for the solo title in the men's division. Favorite rookies for the men are Larry Optis from Canada, John Jurczynski, Brett Walker, and Australian Richard Vollebregt who recently broke Fashing's trans-Australia record by 23 hours.

The women will see new levels of competition. With five women starting, the race will offer a field size not seen in RAAM since the late '80s. Most of the women are unknown to the race so there is no clear favorite going in. Patty Riddle, age 60, will attempt to make the quantum leap from two-person team finisher in 2006, to oldest solo finisher this year.

Phillip Baker, 66, is also attempting to be the oldest solo RAAM finisher. He'll be chased by David Jones, 61.

Proving that singlespeeds are not a trend unique to mountain bike racing, John Spurgeon is attempting to complete RAAM on a combination of two, singlespeed bicycles. He claims sanity by saying he's not crazy enough to attempt RAAM on a a fixed gear, but rather has brought two freewheeled, single speed rigs - one for climbing, and one for all else.

Finally, veteran RAAM racer Tom Seaborne is returning after a 17-year hiatus. His first and only other RAAM was 18 years ago.

Two-person, four-person, and eight-person teams will start Tuesday, June 12th at 2 pm.

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