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Three-time Tour de France bicycling champion Greg LeMond will be in Bountiful on Friday and Saturday to officially open the first Bruegger's Bagel Bakery. The restaurant is one of seven new eateries along the Wasatch Front that soon will be dishing up bagels, cream cheese, soups, salads and desserts.

LeMond is a partner in Bruegger's, which is the largest chain of bagel shops in the country.Bruegger's has leased buildings in downtown Salt Lake City, Sugar House, West Jordan and Orem and plans to open two other spots by the end of this year.

This new retail chain is joining the bagel battle with Einstein Bros. Bagels (formerly Brackman Bros. Bagel Bakeries, which was purchased by three other investors last year), and Chesapeake Bagel Bakery, another national bagel chain that recently opened its first stores in the area.

With all these bakeries, is there a chance the Salt Lake area will get bageled-out?

"From Bruegger's standpoint, we're the very clear segment leader. I don't think Bruegger's is put off by going anywhere," said Tim Johnson, one of three other partners in the venture besides LeMond.

Furthermore, the market here is changing and growing, and Johnson, for one, thinks it can handle plenty of bagels.

"In fact, in other parts of the country there are 10 times as many bagel shops as Salt Lake City," he said. "Although it appears competitive from a consumer's point of view in Salt Lake, it's less competitive than many other parts of the country."

A traditional staple of Jewish cuisine, bagels have become hot for all consumer groups.

Johnson also thinks Bruegger's will attract a loyal following because it provides top quality.

"We create a very nice atmosphere in our stores, and we have fresh product, never frozen, that is boiled and baked," Johnson said.

Some competitors steam bagels, but Bruegger's makes them the old-fashioned way, he said.

"There's only one true way to make a bagel the way the bagel originated - boiled and baked," Johnson said.

"I don't think seven, eight, nine or 10 bagel chains could survive here, but two, three or four could, very easily," Johnson said. "I think we'll do great."

LeMond, who was the first American to win the Tour de France and has many other cycling victories as well, was sidelined from championship racing two years ago by a muscle ailment.

He came upon the Bruegger's investment by chance: While eating breakfast in a Minneapolis Bruegger's restaurant, he noticed how successful the operation looked and how much he liked the food. Johnson, who is a cycling fan, approached LeMond's table and suggested they do business. After some research into the bagel chain, LeMond agreed.

LeMond will take part in a ribbon cutting at 9 a.m. on Friday, March 1, to officially open the new Bruegger's Bagel Bakery, 95 E. 500 South in Bountiful. He will give a presentation about his cycling career at 1:15 p.m. on Friday at Woods Cross High School.

LeMond also will sign autographs at the new bagel shop from 10-11 a.m. on both Friday and Saturday.