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Bicycles selling like hotcakes in U.S. stores
Americans purchased more bicycles than new cars and trucks combined in the past year -- and all without employee discounts or zero-percent financing.

"Our sales have almost tripled in the last couple of years," said Bob Ippolito, executive vice president at Pacific Bicycle, the largest bicycle distributor in the United States.

The company, which is owned by Canadian Dorel , sold 5 million bicycles last year, ranging in price from $50 to several thousand dollars.

"Sales are the best we've had in five years," said Ron Lippner, vice president of Cadillac Bicycle at Kent International, a private company that manufactures and sells more than 1 million bikes a year.

Lippner was unable to provide company sales figures.

"This exceptional year has a lot to do with Lance Armstrong's success from beating cancer and his cycling events -- a lot of people are trying cycling again," he added.

Armstrong, 33, won his seventh consecutive Tour de France race last month and has been called the greatest rider of his generation.

As a result of Armstrong's cancer-awareness efforts -- his foundation has raised more than $51 million by selling his yellow LiveStrong wristbands -- and triumphs on the bike, more Americans are taking up cycling for leisure as well as for road racing.

Armstrong's international success also filters down to the local bike shop's economy when customers want to wear what he wears -- helmet, gloves, shoes or even the yellow winner's jersey.

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