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Friday, November 14, 2008

No Tour de Georgia in 2009

Professional bicycle racing in the United States took a blow today with the cancellation of the 2009 Tour de Georgia.

After struggling to pay its 2008 obligations and missing out on Lance Armstrong's return to racing, the Tour de Georgia announced that it's going to skip 2009 and focus on returning in 2010.

"The rise in the cost of gas" and the current "tough" economic picture hurt us, Phil Jacobs, a member of the race's board of directors told the Savannah Morning News.

In a Tour de Georgia press release, Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said: "Since April, we have had an enormous response from our partners on ways we can strengthen the Tour for the future, and we have been listening. Our host cities want to have time to prepare tourism packages and our health providers are enthusiastic about developing plans to use the Health and Wellness expos to spread their message across the state. Our cycling friends from across the state want to partner with us to create participant activities which are inclusive of the whole family. We have listened to their advice and have decided to skip one year so that the Tour de Georgia can once and for all be ahead of the game in the planning process. This is a decision I feel is wise and one that will strengthen the Tour de Georgia for years to come."

While the race still drew good crowds in 2008, the newspaper noted that race organizers had to reach settlements to pay portions of their bills.

Tour de Georgia organizers also were hoping Lance Armstrong would return to race in 2009 as part of his comeback, but Armstrong has indicated he will be racing some of the European classic races and the Giro d'Italia next spring.

Georgia-based Medalist Sports manages and promotes the Tour de Georgia as well as the other two major U.S. stage races, the Amgen Tour of California and the Tour of Missouri. So far, there is no evidence that the Missouri and California races are in the same condition as Tour de Georgia.

The re-election of Peter Kinder as Missouri's lieutenant governor probably assures continued state backing of that race until Tour of Missouri organizers can come up with enough sponsors from the private sector to support the race without state help.

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