Cable TV’s Discovery Channel, the current sponsor of the American Tour de France team which got underway July 6 – July 29 through the French countryside, has selected two amateur cyclists to train and race alongside the American Team.
This will be Discovery Channel’s last year of a $12 million annual sponsorship fee that underwrites the American team. This will also be the first test of an American team without Lance Armstrong. Through an internet selection process early this year, Discovery Channel presented riders across the country with a "casting" call asking that all interested entrants provide a three minute video about their biking career along with a detailed application form.
Out of all the entries submitted nationally, two finalists were selected in early May, one of them Tarrytown resident, Joe Praino, a 23 year old Sleepy Hollow graduate now residing on West Elizabeth Street. Through it all, Joe has maintained his rigorous regular training schedule that consists of 45 and 60-mile rides over all types of terrain. After the initial selection was made, he was flown to Waterloo, Wisconsin where the famous bicycle manufacturer and sponsor "Trek" presented him with their very latest racing bicycle. He will be training and possibly competing in U.S. races on that same bike. He was scheduled to be in France on July 21 to join the national team and visit with several of its top riders for the last week of the Tour de France event.
Joe is the son of Salvatore and Madeline Praino (Morse School teacher) of Tarrytown. Sal’s brother, Joe’s uncle, was instrumental in developing Joe‚Äôs early interest in bicycling by entering local races in the area, several of which included stars that turned out to be today’s Tour de France riders. In interviewing Joe, it became apparent that his inclusion in Tour de France activities has presented him with possibly a totally new direction in his young career. He intends to join Cisco systems in North Carolina as a Trainee this Fall, and with his 2006 Albany University degree in yet another direction — Broadcast Meteorology — he is already off to some very diverse and interesting choices for a career. Who knows, we could be talking about the next Lance Armstrong. After all, at age 23, he is still five years away from what are considered the best years for a top-ranked professional cyclist.