Gain a race, lose a race

San Franscisco Grand Prix-13Q: What happens when Armstrong retires and the biggest star in your sport is no longer there to attract TV cameras?

A: The San Francisco Grand Prix is no more as the sponsor has pulled the plug.

It's hard to tell what happened as there is so much disagreement from both sides, but the facts appear to be somewhat irrelevant. Several members of SF's Board of Supervisors claimed that San Francisco Cycling hadn't paid the police bills for last year's event. San Francisco Cycling claims they received the bill one working day before the Board of Supervisors started making their charges. The same supervisors making the charges don't want the city to subsidize the costs of the annual race. Although the race is estimated to bring in $10.4 million in cycling-related tourism, some businesses are complaining that they see less business because of the closed off route. Both sides admit it was a mistake to run the race last year over the Labor Day weekend.

The SFGP was something I really looked forward to every year -- it was the driving force behind my purchase of my 70-200 camera lens. It was a chance to make what I saw on TV with the Tour de France more real. You got to see the fleet of support cars, the police clearing the streets in advance, the wind whip up as the peloton flew past, the team directors hitting the gas to slingshot their riders forward, the water bottles flying at you.

Much of that will be there for the Tour of California, but without the star power of the SFGP the scale will be much, much smaller. I love the smaller events -- there is a greater level of accessibility and less crowds to fight -- but the sports fan always wants it all.

related articles: California San Francisco Grand Prix Tour of California 2006
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