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May 18, 2010

No doubting Modesto's love for cycling tour

The whole world got to see one family's pride in Modesto.

Using house wrap donated by Lowe's in north Modesto, Rod Olsen cut out 10-foot high letters, and a heart symbol, that spelled out: MODESTO ªs THE TOUR.

Then, in time for last year's Amgen Tour of California, Olsen and family members positioned the letters on farmland owned by Bill Lyons on North Gates Road.

As cyclists in last year's race sped past on their way to the finish line of the third stage in downtown Modesto, the sign was picked up by TV cameras covering the race overhead for the Versus network. It was then played over and over again on the city's video promoting itself as a Tour of California host city.

Olsen said that after riders left San Jose to toward Modesto, he let some Versus employees at the Modesto finish line know it was there. He then crossed his fingers while he watched the race on the jumbo screen in downtown.

"They got it, and it was pretty awesome," he said. "You could hear the crowd (in downtown Modesto) erupt when they showed it."

The Olsen clan -- wife Kristin, brothers Jon and Tom, brother-in-law Justin Bohn, Jon's father-in-law, Ron Jeske, among others -- will place the letters and heart symbol on the football field at Modesto Junior College early Wednesday morning.

He's hoping that as the cyclists turn off Needham Street and head north on College Avenue, the cameras will capture it. They'll have three chances as the riders circuit around downtown Modesto for the conclusion of Wednesday's fourth stage.

The idea to put it at MJC was hatched after watching last year's Tour de France, when he saw a town in Europe lay its sign on a town soccer pitch.

"It fits with the buzz of what's happening downtown," Olsen said.

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