02 June 2010

Tours being cancelled left and right

Tour of Ireland Canceled
Tour of Missouri Canceled ... Tour of Georgia Canceled ...

It was announced today that the Tour of Ireland would be canceled, this follows on the recent announcement that the Tour of Missouri will also be canceled for 2010.

The reason given for canceling the Tour of Missouri, scheduled for this August-September, was attributed to the State Tourism Officials who refused to help fund the race. The Missouri Tourism Commission was willing and able to raise non-state funds for the event, but when Missouri Governor Jay Nixon refused to support the race or meet with race organizers, his all out refusal was the final straw. The race would be canceled without state support.

Last December it was announced that the Tour of Georgia would be canceled this year. Sponsorship woes had previously led to the cancellation of the Tour of Georgia in 2009. Economic realities were again stated as the reason for cancellation in 2010.

Today the cancellation of the Tour of Ireland was announced. Again, due to lack of sponsorship. I really enjoyed watching this race last year. I will miss this race.

When these races are canceled there is always hope that they will be reinstated the following year, but the memory of the benefits, the cohesiveness of the individuals making it happen, and the dedication of the sponsors fades over time. The UCI makes an effort to organize their racing calendar every year to allow for these races, only to see them canceled. Teams are less likely to commit, tourists less likely to believe it will happen, and sponsors less likely to reach the numbers of potential customers they desire. This is not good for the sport.

I am realizing how wonderful it was that the Tour of California actually took place this year. California is certainly not in the best political or economic shape. I feel very thankful to the sponsors of the Tour of California for making it happen! I also thank the sponsors of the Tour of the Gila in New Mexico, USA.

The bad press received during the time of the Amgen Tour of California by a former rider this year was a shame. The individuals who bad-mouthed the Tour claiming it did not stack up against the Giro d'Italia were ignorant to the legitimacy and the importance of this race. The Tour of California attracted 11 current National Champions in 2010. The rosters were quite impressive, the pro teams selected this race for specific training purposes. I can attest that being there as a fan was fantastic. Perhaps we should appreciate what we have in our own back yard, while we still have it.

If you want to keep these races - GO!

The Dauphine Libere and the Tour de Suisse begin soon. And then of course, there will always be (I hope!) the Tour de France. After that we have the Vuelta in Spain, which has a smaller and smaller following every year. With the Tour of Ireland, and the Tour of Missouri being canceled for 2010 - that is it for the 2010 race season. Done, over.

Thank goodness for the European races! For the citizens of Belgium who keep the spring classics going. For the citizens of Germany, Australia, Italy, Qatar, Spain, and France who keep their races going year after year for the riders and for the fans of pro cycling. I am grateful for the excitement and for the continuity of tradition.