Georgia Lt. Governor Casey Cagle announced this week that the Tour de Georgia will continue for a sixth season, April 21-27, 2008 and will be reorganized under new leadership. Owned by the not-for-profit Georgia Partnership for Economic Development (GPED), the event will now be governed by a reconstituted Board of Directors with the Lt. Governor serving as Chairman. Medalist Sports will continue as the logistics and operations management company for the Tour, led by Chris Aronhalt and Jim Birrell. Elizabeth Dewberry, who has worked with Cagle for five years, will be named as Executive Director of the Tour de Georgia and will manage the marketing, business operations and strategic partnerships. The current GPED Board is taking action to ratify these changes.
"The Tour de Georgia is an internationally known sporting event. It is the largest cycling race in the U.S. occurring just before the Tour de France," said Cagle, who was elected as Lt. Governor in 2006. "The Tour represents an excellent opportunity to bring the world to our state – and that is what we intend to do. Through aggressive marketing and strategic partnerships, we will add this event to the ranks of historic Georgia sporting events like The Masters and the Peachtree Road Race. The cities we will select this year will exemplify all the special qualities and Southern hospitality that make Georgia the greatest state in America. The race and activities focused around it in every community will encourage others to visit our state again and again – having a strong impact on our state's tourism development and overall economy."
The Tour de Georgia has enjoyed great success since its inception in 2003. In 2007, the Tour expanded from six to seven days. The week-long event will maintain its traditional "Tour de France tune-up" slot on the UCI international cycling calendar and 2. HC (Hors Catégorie) status. It is also part of the USA Cycling Professional Tour.
"The Tour de Georgia has established itself as one of the premier events for professional cyclists and for cycling fans in North America," said Levi Leipheimer, current National Road Race Champion (USA Cycling Professional Championships) and 3rd Overall in the 2007 Tour de France. "Personally, I enjoy participating in the Tour de Georgia as it is perfectly placed in the world cycling calendar in terms of preparation for the Tour de France. The challenging courses, enthusiastic crowds and southern hospitality are the best of any North American race."
The early announcement of the race's return for 2008 is in contrast to the financial challenges faced in 2006 that were only resolved weeks before the race commenced. Recognizing that this event was indeed a strong driver for economic impact and tourism, the office of the Lt. Governor is taking initiative to support the Tour de Georgia as a valued sports property for the state. The reorganization will focus on increasing multi-year business partnerships with the event and creating year-round publicity.
The route for the sixth annual Tour de Georgia is expected to again cover over 650 miles of roadways through communities across Georgia. Lt. Governor Cagle, in partnership with Medalist Sports, will announce the official route and Host Venues on November 14.