Sparks flew in the 2006 Tour de Georgia as the race came down to a showdown on Brasstown Bald mountain between two American riders on ProTour teams, Floyd Landis and Tom Danielson. The presence of several ProTour teams in Georgia, and at the Tour of California in February is an indication that top European-based teams are taking US cycling increasingly seriously. Kirsten Robbins finds out why.
The Tour de Georgia has just completed its fourth annual event with a very successful ending. The tour attracted several of the top ProTour teams to come to Georgia and compete for the podium's top spots. What is attracting the European teams to take American cycling seriously?
Directeur sportif of Phonak, René Savary, said the recent growth of interest in cycling was the reason why ProTour teams were crossing the Atlantic to race here. "Cycling has always been well known here in America. But in this moment is it growing stronger here. There are so many fans out here to watch the races and it really reminds me of racing in Europe," he said. And the growth in interest of cycling in America is one of the main reasons American sponsors are taking steps into the sport.
"The media will make the sport more popular now," said Savary. "The future is now growing for the sport here and all it needs is time. The sponsors know this and the cycling teams know this. There are many companies here that want to be apart of this sport now. It is a good moment to for the European teams to try to be apart of this market. The U.S. is so much bigger in sponsorship and media now."
Many teams like Phonak already have existing sponsors from the U.S. "Georgia is important for our team because our sponsors like I Shares are here and they want to see us race here too," said Savary. "Every race is important to us. We come to the U.S. races to win we need to show our sponsors here that we are really able to win here too."
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