The United States of America was close to losing the UCI-sanctioned Tour of Battenkill when its former sponsor pulled its funding two months ago, but organizer Dieter Drake has found a replacement in PepsiCo that will allow the event to continue as scheduled in Cambridge, New York on April 18.
"I approached them back in January after we lost our presenting sponsor from last year during the Christmas holiday," Drake said. "With some persistence, they were receptive to talking about it. Selling a bicycle race is not an easy task but with a large, multi-billion dollar company like Pepsi it worked out."
Without a replacement for previous sponsor, Malta-based GlobalFoundaries, Drake would have been forced to cancel the UCI professional men’s race, and the Pro/Am events held the weekend prior.
"GlobalFoundries had some leadership changes that had an effect on our ability to communicate the event and cycling in general to them," Drake said. "They are also in a difficult phase where they are not generating revenue for themselves, as I understand it."
Drake is more than pleased with Pepsi’s commitment to the Tour of Battenkill. However, the length of the company's longer-term contractual agreement with the race is yet to be determined.
"It's huge [for the race]," Drake said. "We now have a globally known retail sponsor. I can't think of a better position to be in. Since we're short on time for 2010, we haven't had time to workout the long-term details. It's my mission to grow the exposure and stature of the event internationally and Pepsi can make that happen."
Pepsi will brand the Tour of Battenkill’s two weekends of racing. The 2010 event will begin with the Pro/Am and women’s races, to be held on April 10. The professional men’s UCI event will follow, on April 18.
"I think it would be difficult for us to present it in any other way," Drake said. "The UCI event is, of course, the marquee race with the biggest exposure, but we've also got more than 2000 amateurs and their families coming for the Pro/Am. That's a lot of people for them to get their name and products out there so it makes sense to give them that exposure too."
Last year, all Tour of Battenkill events were held on the same weekend. Drake cited large field sizes and a shortage of lodging in Washington County as reasons for separation of the Pro/Am and UCI events. Furthermore, creating two weekends of challenging races is expected to enhance the county’s tourism business.
"The goal of the race is to boost our regional economy and this just makes sense," Drake said. "Both the Pro/Am and the UCI race are huge undertakings on their own and we needed time in between to get everything right."
"The number of racers on the road for the Pro/Am is not something to take lightly," he added. "The details and logistics for that alone boggles the mind. So that needed its own weekend. Also, having the UCI race the following weekend allows us to use the week in between for some outreach-type events to local schools and sponsors."