Sponsors of the Presbyterian Hospital Invitational have announced that they are back on board to run the event for another three years. Race organisers welcomed the surprise extension in light of a tough economic year that has seen several of the nation’s cycling events disappear from the calendar.
"Our sponsors held back and made the announcement at the end of the race on Saturday night," said Thad Fischer, race director. "We had no idea that they were going to renew until about half way through the race. They had the contract and I looked for the dotted line to sign. We knew our sponsors were happy with the way things had gone in the last five years but with the economic times we weren’t sure. We are pleased to get the sponsors back."
The twilight criterium held on the city streets of Charlotte, North Carolina has been a staple on the National Racing Calendar (NRC) for the past six years. The three supporting sponsors include the Presbyterian Hospital, Time Warner and University Volvo which have all extended funding until 2012.
"The city has endorsed the event, with huge support and that’s difficult to get in a big city with so many other events going on with the NFL and NBA," said Fischer. "Our corporate leaders are behind the race because we get about 35,000 spectators and we build it in to make them feel like its Charlotte’s race."
The Presbyterian Hospital Invitational has helped raise around four million dollars to benefit the Brain Tumor Fund for the Carolinas. The BTFC was founded in 2003. The non-profit group funds cancer research and the development of methods to detect tumors in their early stages. It is also dedicated to increasing public awareness of the impact of brain tumors.
"We are not the only ones who raise funds for this organization but we are the focal point," said Fischer. "That’s what saves lives. Our race is a real win-win situation for people to be able to come out, get involved and also see world-class athletes."
Fischer’s history in cycling extends from being a former athlete to directing professional cycling teams. He signed on as the event’s race director in 2003; its first season. Fischer is no stranger to event directing, his accomplishments include handling the 1996 Atlanta Olympic trials as well as organising the Charlotte stages of the former Tour of Dupont.