By Mark Zalewski, North American editor
The Tour de Georgia is once again shopping around for a new title sponsor after the Atlanta District Ford Dealers Advertising Association decided to not renew their title sponsorship for next year's race. "I think the indicators were out there," said Jim Birrell, managing partner of Medalist Sports, the owner of the race. "The state of the economy is a factor. They closed down a plant here right before the Tour, so that was an indication that their interests were changing."
Birrell said that the decision by the Ford dealers association was made before the Tour de France, and that the situation with Floyd Landis, the winner of the 2006 race, was not a factor. However, Birrell acknowledged that the Landis question is out there as he and his partner court new potential sponsors. "The questions is certainly being asked, but I don't think it will affect the participation. They know the event is not built off of one individual. The effect it has on the spectators and media is great."
Birrell said that he is optimistic about finding a new sponsor, and that talks are already under way. "We are building some options for the 2007. We have had some very engaging conversations with some new title sponsors."