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Tour of California

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  • Dennis Crowley
    Breaking News: This was announced yesterday at the World Championships: http://www.velonews.com/race/dom/articles/7746.0.html Domestic Road Coming in 2006:
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 26, 2005
      Breaking News: This was announced yesterday at the World Championships:


      Domestic Road
      Coming in 2006: Tour of California

      By Jason Sumner
      Special to VeloNews
      This report filed March 26, 2005

      Normally if a group of event organizers announced a multi-day bike
      race that was slated to commence in less than year, but had no title
      sponsor, a route or even exact dates, you'd chalk it up as the
      standard baseless hyperbole that has so often characterized proposed
      cycling events in the U.S.

      But when AEG president and CEO Tim Leiweke backed up the announcement
      of what will be the inaugural Tour of California with the boldest of
      statements, you have to believe this event is actually going to get
      off the ground as planned come February 2006.

      "The decision we had to make at AEG, and with our other partners,
      was: Are we prepared to go this alone if we don't sell any
      sponsorship? Are we willing to finance this thing completely for five
      years, which would be about a $35 million commitment?" Leiweke said
      during a news conference held at the ritzy Stadium Club, which
      overlooks the soccer field at the Home Depot Center in Carson,
      California. "The answer is yes. If we have to spend $35 million to
      build the race we will."

      But no matter who ends up footing the bill, this eight-day,
      UCI-sanctioned men's road stage race is primed to be the biggest
      event that's descended on U.S. cycling in years.

      "We are looking at the great cycling events around the world and
      aspiring to become one of those great events," continued Leiweke. "We
      are looking at the Tour de France as our model, and looking at the
      Tour de France as what we want to be one day when we grow up.

      "It took us a while to get here because this is not an inexpensive
      endeavor. But our company has committed the funding to give this race
      the right chance. It's not going to be a one- or two-year and out
      deal. This is a long-term commitment. We are making a commitment to
      this sport and a long-term commitment to the Tour of California. We
      know success won't come right away. We know it's going to take some
      time to reach the level that we want to accomplish."

      Leiweke and AEG certainly appear to have the right people behind
      them. Speakers at the Friday afternoon press conference included UCI
      president Hein Verbruggen, USA Cycling CEO Gerard Bisceglia and
      California Secretary of Education Richard Riordan.

      Riordan, a cyclist himself, called the race an opportunity to show
      the world that California "is the greatest place in the world. The
      Tour of California will show people that California is not just a
      place, it's a way of life."

      Verbruggen was equally effusive, gushing that "if ever there was a
      situation where all the necessary components were in place for a
      great race, it is here."

      As for the nuts and bolts of the race, managing director Robert
      Colarossi said that final decisions on dates and the race route would
      come "sometime this summer." But assuming a mid-February start, the
      event would fit nicely into the existing early-season slate, allowing
      ProTour teams to go from Australia's Tour Down Under to the Tour de
      Langkawi in Malaysia, and then fly across the Pacific for the race in
      California, before returning to Europe for the start of the main
      racing season.

      "AEG and our partners are all dedicated to making this one of the two
      or three best cycling events in all of the world," said Leiweke. "The
      best athletes will come here. We will have the most prize money in
      the history of cycling in the U.S. We are going to do this the right
      way. We are going to take our time and build something great. And
      strive to be a great event like the Tour de France."

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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