Friday, September 30, 2005 | A team of 24 cyclists departed Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla Thursday morning with seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong at their helm on a nine-day journey across America to raise awareness for cancer clinical trials.

The team, comprised of cyclists from all over the country who have dealt with cancer, will tell their stories in towns across the nation with the hope of inspiring the public to support and participate in clinical trials that play a large role in developing treatments for cancer.

Scripps Green Hospital hosted the launch party for the “Tour of Hope” event, where speakers, including CEO of Scripps Health Chris Van Gorder, San Diego City Councilman Scott Peters, Bristol-Myers Squibb CEO Peter Dolan and former cancer patient Armstrong, addressed a crowd of more than 2,500 about the importance of the Tour’s mission for the future of cancer research.

“Because Scripps Health provides the most cancer care for patients in San Diego County, it was very important to us to get the message out there in order for us to raise the public awareness, have more clinical trials, enroll more patients and bring more promising therapies to market faster,” said Johnny Hagerman, a spokesperson for Scripps Health.

The team was shadowed for the first four miles by a contingency of cancer survivors on bikes from the San Diego area.

Afterward, the group split into teams of six that will take turns riding around the clock.

Armstrong will join the team at various points along the way and plans to finish with them in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 8.

– JESSICA L. HORTON, Voice Contributing Writer

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