The Tour of America bicycle race that next month will put the world's top racers on Virginia roads for a three-day, 275-mile "stage race" similar to the Tour de France will be feted in towns along Rte. 1, Prince William County tourism director Bernadette Plunkett said.

The county will string banners across the highway, which she called Prince Williams' "main street," and plans to release 2,000 helium balloons when the riders reach the county line shortly after noon April 10, the final day of the race. The cyclists will have left earlier that day from Fredericksburg.

In Triangle, the 43-piece Quantico Marine Band will greet the riders as they pass the main entrance to the Marine Corps base, at the junction of Rte. 619, as will dozens of Dumfries residents wearing colonial garb.

The Dumfries historical society moved its celebration to Triangle because "our town is on a steep hill with few places for us to stand and the racers will be coming down the hill so fast they might not see us," said Barbara Kirby, society vice president.

The town, founded in 1749 and once the nation's second-busiest seaport, also "had planned to fire off cannons," Kirby said. "But someone said it might scare the racers or they might think they had a flat tire. So we've dropped the cannons."

The cyclists' race along Rte. 1 has generated a number of other events, including a performance by the Golden Girls, Woodbridge High School's precision drill team, plus bike rodeos and antique bike exhibits.