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February 1, 2008 Press Conference
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New Toll Road Routes Highlight 4th Annual Guaranty Bank Tour de Houston

February 1, 2008 -- Mayor Bill White joined state Senator Rodney Ellis, Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and title sponsor Guaranty Bank today in announcing the routes for the 4 th Annual Guaranty Bank Tour de Houston bicycle ride benefiting neighborhood parks on Saturday, March 15, 2008. Much of this year's route will be on the Hardy Toll Road.

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“We're happy to have Guaranty Bank's support once again to help keep Houston moving and to keep improving our parks ,” said Mayor White. “I encourage all Houstonians to come out, get fit and have a great ride through our beautiful city.”

“This year's Tour de Houston is yet another great example of the city's and county's increasing ability and desire to work together to solve regional problems,” said Judge Emmett. “The county is proud to work with the city to help provide Tour de Houston riders with new and interesting views from the Hardy Toll Road.”

“The state is committed to working with the Mayor and the City to make this one of Houston's premier recreational events,” said Sen. Rodney Ellis. “This is a great way for family's to get fit and have fun.”

Last year's Guaranty Bank Tour de Houston drew thousands and has become a popular Houston cycling classic, a recommended BP MS150 training ride. The Guaranty Bank Tour de Houston offers a 20 mile, 40 mile and a 70 mile route. All three routes begin at City Hall and wind through the neighborhood streets of northeast Houston, the northbound lanes of the Hardy Toll Road.

This year's Tour de Houston riders will get the unusual view of Houston from two wheels on the Hardy Toll Road. The Hardy Toll Road northbound lanes will be closed the morning of the Tour de Houston. Commuters to Bush Intercontinental Airport are urged to take IH 45 or U.S. 59 north that morning. The ride begins with a high energy start and finishes at Houston's historic City Hall, where a post-ride party will be held for participants and volunteers. Along the route riders will find: fully stocked rest stops, police support, bicycle mechanics at each rest stop and roving medical support.

“The success of the Tour de Houston is just another example of the dynamic environment that embraces all of Houston, which is what makes those of us at Guaranty Bank so proud to have our name on it,” stated Kevin Hanigan, President of Guaranty Bank – Retail.

Mayor White and Senator Ellis, avid cyclists, will join bike teams from sponsors Guaranty Bank, Shell Houston Open and Sun & Ski Sports to kick-off the event at 7:00 a.m. for the 70-mile route, 7:30 a.m. for the 40-mile route, and 7:45 a.m. for the 20-mile route.

The Guaranty Bank Tour de Houston will begin and end downtown at City Hall. Free parking for participants will be available from 6 –10 a.m. in lots C and H off Memorial Drive for those vehicles with overhead bike racks, and in the Theater District for all others. Registration and volunteer information can be found on the web site. Registration by mail will be open until Saturday, March 8. Online registration will close at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, March 12. On-site registration will be available on the day of the event at Tranquillity Park, located directly across Walker Street from City Hall. Registration is $25, $15 for riders age 12 and under in advance, and $35 for all riders the day of the event. Packet pick-up locations and schedules for pre-registered riders can be found on the web site.

Sponsors for the 4th Annual Guaranty Bank Tour de Houston include: Shell Houston Open, CDM, KPRC Local 2, Michelob Ultra, Sun & Ski Sports, BP MS150, Kolache Factory, Houston Avocado Company, Houston Press and Houston Parks and Recreation Dept. Sun & Ski Sports will provide mechanical support at each rest stop throughout the ride. Funds raised by the Guaranty Bank Tour de Houston will benefit neighborhood parks through the Houston Parks Board.