John Howard, left, listens as Richard DeBernardis introduces him to the crowd.

Four-time Olympian John Howard, 63, is being honored by El Tour de Tucson event organizers.

In a news conference Thursday, Perimeter Bicycling Association of American’s president Richard DeBernardis announced the 28th El Tour de Tucson would be dedicated to Howard.

Howard, a US National Road Race champion, set the bicycle land speed record by going over 150 miles per hour on a bike.

Howard said it was an honor to recognized by the event organizers.

“It is a huge thrill,” Howard said. “The event stands for so much that is important about cycling. Where else in world can amateur riders ride with professional riders?”

Howard, who finished 60th last year after a crash, will ride again this year.

DeBernardis also announced route changes for this year’s ride.

The ride will return to using Oracle Road, which wasn’t used last year because of construction.

The start of the shortest event has been moved from Ironwood Ridge High School to the headquarters of Sanofi-Aventis, the new sponsor of the — now — 40-mile ride.

Click image for a larger version of the map.

DeBernardis said Oro Valley couldn’t afford to sponsor the event and the high school was too small to hold it.

“The school that we started at was getting to be too congested,” DeBernardis said.  “We needed a starting area that would allow for us to grow.”

DeBernardis said in addition to having more space, the start of the event is uphill and will make it safer for cyclists in the 40-mile event to merge with the cyclists who are riding the longer events.

He said the added distance wouldn’t affect people.

“It is not going to be detrimental,” DeBernardis said. “Those who can do 35 can do 40 because that ride is 95 percent downhill.”

Lastly, DeBernardis said they event will continue to use the frontage road instead of Silverbell. The ride was re-routed to the frontage road last year because of construction.

DeBernardis said the police told him it was much safer and easier to control the traffic with cyclists using the frontage road.

According to DeBernardis, Tucson Police have developed a plan to move traffic through the intersections more efficiently this year, which caused frustration among drivers last year.

The ride takes place on Nov. 20 and offers four ride distances. Learn more about the ride here.

Check out the video of Howard’s land speed record-setting ride:

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