ATLANTA — The popular Tour de Georgia cycling race will not be held in 2009 because of a lack of corporate sponsors, officials said.
“We all know that many companies, corporations and many of our sponsors are into some pretty tough financial times right now,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Phil Jacobs, a member of the Tour de Georgia Foundation’s board of directors, as saying. “While we didn’t have anyone say, ‘We’re not going to sponsor the race,’ it was clear there were going to be some organizations that needed to back off.”
Officials said the Tour, which started in 2003 and is touted as “North America’s premier professional cycling race,” will be held in 2010.
“This is a decision I feel is wise and one that will strengthen the Tour de Georgia for years to come,” Lt. Governor Casey Cagle said in a news release. “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.”
The 2008 Tour de Georgia’s economic impact for the state was $38.6 million, officials said after the event. Over the years, the Tour has attracted a number of notable cyclists, including Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong, who won the Tour de Georgia in 2004.
“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,” Steve Johnson, CEO of USA Cycling, said in a news release. “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.”