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El Tour de Tucson has a new sponsor and beneficiary.

The Special Olympics organization has signed a three-year sponsorship agreement with Perimeter Bicycling Association of America, the group that puts on the El Tour de Tucson bike race each year.

Last year, the race was almost canceled for lack of financial support from a major sponsor, said Richard DeBernardis, the president and founder of Perimeter Bicycling Association of America.

He said Special Olympics is a major international organization that will raise the profile of the event.

"We're going to be promoted throughout the world," he said. "People will not only come here for the bicycling event, but once they discover Tucson, the phenomenal weather and great cycling we have, they're going to be coming here year round."

The event draws thousands of cyclists from all over the world to Tucson each November.

DeBernardis said proceeds from entry fees will be returned to the Special Olympics, so it will be both sponsor and beneficiary of El Tour.