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Following weeks of unsettled weather, the 2011 Merco Cycling Classic began under clear and warm blue skies.
Organiser hoping to keep race alive
After 18 years of sponsoring a multi-day race in Merced, California, McLane Pacific has ended its involvement in cycling, race organisers announced today.
The sponsor came on board in 1993 in support of the Mercy Gulch Criterium, which later grew into the multi-day McLane Pacific Cycling Classic and then Merco Credit Union Cycling Classic.
The springtime race was previously on USA Cycling's National Racing Calendar, and in recent years served as a warm-up for the Redlands Classic.
"I remember back to the original meeting with McLane Pacific and the Merced Downtown Association. I was 23 years old and only had a vague vision for a community event. It was something that would benefit McLane, Merced, United Way and the cycling community alike," said race founder Doug Fluetsch.
"McLane always allowed us to make the decisions and move forward freely while all the while anticipating a positive result. At that first meeting I would have never envisioned what the event would become. A positive result always followed. Over the 18 year history the race never finished with a financial deficit with well over $125,000 being donated back to the United Way of Merced County."
Fluetsch aims to maintain the race at its current high standard, but faces a sharp funding shortfall with the departure of McLane.
"I am certain that no one involved wants to see the event move backwards, but with the departure of McLane and the immense signage costs involved, we would need an investment of about $12,500 just to keep continuity. If this truly is the end, it has been a great ride and fine example of what community sponsorship and collaboration can become. I know the citizens of Merced as well as our local cycling community and beyond are very thankful for all McLane and Merco have done. I know I personally am."