The Washington Post

Arlington man is Tour de France-bound

If you’re a bicyclist or a bicycling fan, the Tour de France is the Superbowl, World Series and the NBA Finals all at once. It’s dramatic, scenic, competitive and cultural, covering 21 stages over 2,150 miles through the French countrysides and urban centers.

So how would such a fan react to winning an online contest that not only sends him to the Tour, but puts him behind the scenes and awards him a bike just like the racers use?

Joe Praino is ecstatic.

Praino, an Arlington-based salesman who has loved bicycling since childhood, won a six-day trip to the Tour de France from Cannondale, the bicycle maker, for a hilarious video in which he tried to capture “the dramatics and theatrics involved in cycling,” he said.

His winning video shows him as a kid wearing a bicyclist’s cap, the heartbreak of his first road bike being demolished in a fire, and his preparations for his adult rides — including rubbing olive oil on his legs, accepting the encouragement of fans on his street, and celebrating victory by standing on a chair in his living room and kissing his wife, European style.

The video, on Youtube, is below. Here’s the same video on the Cannondale Facebook page.

Facebook fans of the bicycling manufacturer and Peloton Magazine voted him the winner of the contest last week.

He’s not sure exactly what he’ll be doing as “an intern” for one of the sport’s elite racing teams, Team Liquigas-Cannondale, during his six days in France. He’s been to “the giant moving circus” called the Tour before, but only to see one or two stages.

“My personal dream is to ride in one of the team cars during one of the stages,” Praino said. “I know I have a backstage VIP pass, I’ll be eating with the team and helping them get ready for the stages.”

Patricia Sullivan covers government, politics and other regional issues in Arlington County and Alexandria. She worked in Illinois, Florida, Montana and California before joining the Post in November 2001.

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