Not much of a surprise:
(Atlanta, GA) Following the conclusion of a very successful 2008 Tour de Georgia presented by AT&T, the Board of Directors of the Tour de Georgia Foundation, Inc., announced today their plans for the future of the Tour.
Speaking on behalf of the Foundation's Board of Directors, long time member Tom Saddlemire announced that the Tour de Georgia will not be held in 2009 but will return in 2010. Mr. Saddlemire, newly retired CFO of GE Energy, explained that "with the help of the Lt. Governor, the Tour had its most successful year yet, raising close to $3.2 million in operating expenses and commitments for more than $500,000 in support of cancer research through the Aflac Cancer Center at Children's Healthcare and the Georgia Cancer Coalition. We believe that this unique and exciting event will endure. We have decided to use 2009 as a time to plan ahead and properly position the Tour de Georgia to make the best use of the new partnerships we forged during the 2008 Tour de Georgia Presented by AT&T, such as our relationships with Blue Cross Blue Shield and Road Atlanta. The planning process for the Tour de Georgia requires a tremendous amount of time and effort and we wanted to give all of our partners enough time to plan and allocate their resources to take full advantage of the event. Therefore, we will skip 2009 and the Board will petition USAC and the UCI for the Tour de Georgia's return to the world calendar in 2010."
Craig Lesser, former Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development said that "The Tour de Georgia was initiated by the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade & Tourism (now Georgia Department of Economic Development) in 2003 with a focus on creating a world-class cycling event which fostered significant economic development, tourism and world-wide exposure. We achieved that goal. The Tour de Georgia quickly developed stature, gaining international ranking (by UCI and USA Cycling, Inc.) as a spring tradition in the professional sport of cycling. The Tour de Georgia attracted the best teams in the world and previous champions included such stars as Lance Armstrong, Tom Danielson and Chris Horner. Over the course of six years, the Tour de Georgia has attracted 3.2 million spectators, many of whom traveled to Georgia from out of state, and generated a direct economic impact totaling over $186 million. The 2008 Tour de Georgia, our most successful Tour yet, yielded over $38.6 million in direct economic impact for the State. We have come a long way since 2003."
Chairman of the Board, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle added, "The support we received from our Georgia sponsor corporations, our host cities and the citizens of Georgia was amazing in 2008. 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. I commend our Board for its thoughtfulness in arriving at this decision. We look forward to using 2009 to plan the 2010 Tour and I am committed to playing an active role in that process."
Steve Johnson, CEO of USA Cycling, said that he "was obviously disappointed to learn that the 2009 Tour de Georgia has been cancelled for 2009. However, I am very pleased that the race will return in 2010. Since its inception in 2003, the Tour de Georgia has been an important international stage race featuring some of the top riders in the world. Equally important, it provided the impetus for major stage races in California and Missouri. We look forward to the Tour de Georgia returning in 2010."
The Tour de Georgia Presented by AT&T is North America 's premier professional cycling race. First held in 2003, the Tour de Georgia Presented by AT&T is an international professional sporting event that brings thousands of spectators and cycling enthusiasts to the State of Georgia each Spring . The 2008 Tour de Georgia Presented by AT&T was a six stage race, covering more than 600 miles across the State of Georgia , from the shores of Tybee Island to the mountains of North Georgia, with an exciting circuit finish in the state capitol, Atlanta. Traditionally, professional teams use the Tour de Georgia to prepare their riders for the most challenging tours held in Europe , including the Tour de France. Several teams which rode in the 2008 Tour de Georgia Presented by AT&T also participated in the 2008 Tour de France. Riders such as Christian van de Velde and George Hincapie, who were fierce competitors in the 2008 Tour de Georgia Presented by AT&T, also rode extremely well in the 2008 Tour de France. The climb up Brasstown Bald in the mountains of North Georgia, a favorite of cycling fans and a legendary stage in the professional racing circuit, is considered by professional cyclists to be the most challenging and grueling stage of any race held in North America.