Maybe it's too soon to turn out the lights on the Tour de Georgia, but CyclingNews reports the 6-year-old bike race is “unlikely” to be around next season.
That's going to make a lot of people sad, especially the estimated 400,000 who flocked to the roadside to witness at last one of the seven stages of bicycle racing across Georgia in April.
There are more details at the CyclingNews report, but here's the gist of the story:
“The failure to secure consistent sponsorship combined with financial losses have made the race questionable over the past few years, and it appears these problems have finally caught up with the event.
“Chris Aronhalt of Medalist Sports, the original promoters and current logistics provider for the race, said that the board would be meeting soon to discuss the future of the race. Contacted by Cyclingnews the race's executive director Elizabeth Dewberry said that there were ongoing discussions about postponing the race for 2009 in order to reorganize. However, Dewberry would not return calls for additional details.”
I'm surprised by the sponsorship problems. The Tour is a high profile race with a lot of interest across the bicycling world. I'm sure it's reported nightly on every news station across Georgia and the southeast. What regional sponsor wouldn't want a piece of that?
Roadside spectators were down in 2008, according to an economic impact study, but spending was up a significant 40%. Some 40% of persons filling out a survey reported they stayed more than one night in Georgia to watch the Tour. Analysts believe that an increase in international visitors also spurred the higher spending.
Most well-known US cyclists in recent years have raced at the Tour de Georgia, which has been won by Lance Armstrong, Tom Danielson, Floyd Landis, and Chris Horner. It has a great history and it's own dominant climb — Brasstown Bald.