( California Giant Foundation )

The California Giant Foundation is preparing for the fifth run of Tour de Fresh, extended to four days this year, and has lined up several pro cyclers to ride along as coaches.

Eight-time Tour de France rider and Olympic Bronze Medalist Axel Merckx will attend the event again this year, according to a news release.

Joining Tour de Fresh in addition to Merckx is Alex Wassman, the tour’s technical director, who will bring other “ride guides” for the event.

The key ride guide is Jesse Moore, a performance coach known for his success with Tour de France riders, Ironman triathletes and cross country skiers, according to the release. Moore is currently a USA Cycling certified coach, and he and Merckx’s experience will be especially helpful this year with a more challenging route planned.

“I am eager to join the riders of Tour de Fresh for a second year,” said Axel Merckx, Hagens Berman Axeon Cycling team owner, in the release. “Seeing the passion that everyone involved in this event has for getting salad bars in more schools is a humbling experience that I am proud to be a part of.”

The extra day this year is in reponse to industry support and rider feedback, and will offer the cyclers a challenge and more time to spend with fellow produce industry participants, according to the release.

The 2018 route begins in the mountain ski resort of Kirkwood, Calif., near South Lake Tahoe, and will take riders on a hilly path through Jackson, Livermore, Mt. Hamilton, San Jose, Aptos and Monterey. The finish-line festival provides sponsors a chance to show off their products as they celebrate the riders.

Sponsorship opportunities are still available, and more information is at tourdefresh.com.