There are always dozens of Silicon Valley folk who fly over to France every summer so they can follow in the tracks of their heroes riding the Tour de France. We know a few.

But a local Sunnyvale company, Expresso Fitness, has just gotten $4.5 million more in venture backing to expand a product that allows riders to pretend that they’re in the Tour de France — right from their home or local gym.

expresso.gifThe simulated video bike trails are tied closely to reality: If you start climbing a hill, you have to downshift the bike and pedal much harder. If you’re feeling strong, and coming close to a personal record during a performance, a cyclist in a yellow jersey will appear and set the pace to help you meet the goal. We wonder if it simulates the girls that kiss the winner at the end?

With Lance still in the lead last time we checked, and close to retirement, the tour is getting lots of attention — so Expresso has a good nose for timing.

Release is below in extended entry. We last wrote about them here.

Expresso Fitness Secures $4.5 Million in Series B Financing

Expresso Fitness, the leading supplier of interactive software for Internet-enabled cardio fitness systems, announced today that Enterprise Partners Venture Capital, the La Jolla-based venture firm, will lead a Series B round with $4.5 million. Bill Stensrud, a Managing Director with Enterprise Partners, will join the Expresso Fitness Board of Directors.

Expresso Fitness provides networked and interactive software and cardio equipment for the multi-billion dollar fitness industry. The company has significant customer traction with its initial product, the Spark fitness bike, being installed on the West and East Coasts. Discussions are underway to license the software to major equipment providers.

Commenting on the company, Bill Stensrud said, �Expresso Fitness has developed a compelling product that addresses a very attractive demographic in a large and expanding market. We are excited about the viral growth potential of Expresso�s interactive products and the long term prospects of the company.�

Brian Button, co-founder and CEO of Expresso Fitness, said, �The additional capital from Enterprise Partners will allow us to step up production and delivery of our initial product line and accelerate deployment of our interactive multiplayer gaming technology into other types of cardio fitness products.�

The Spark, which debuted in March at the International Health, Racquet & Sports Club Association (IHRSA) Convention in San Francisco, utilizes the latest entertainment-based software to engage exercisers as never before. Because Sparks are all Internet-connected, they provide the user with the ability to compete against or play with others. Back-end software provides Internet-based capabilities for planning and organizing fitness programs.

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