By Mark Zalewski
One of America's biggest stage races, the Tour de Georgia (2.HC), is unlikely to be around next season according to multiple sources involved with the race. The failure to secure consistent sponsorship combined with financial losses have made the race questionable over the past few years, and it appears these problems have finally caught up with the event.
Chris Aronhalt of Medalist Sports, the original promoters and current logistics provider for the race, said that the board would be meeting soon to discuss the future of the race. Contacted by Cyclingnews the race's executive director Elizabeth Dewberry said that there were ongoing discussions about postponing the race for 2009 in order to reorganize. However, Dewberry would not return calls for additional details.
The race began in 2003 with Medalist Sports, the promoters involved with running the Tour of California, Tour of Missouri and the last three years of the USPRO championships in Greenville, South Carolina. The Tour de Georgia laid the groundwork for the Tour of California and Tour of Missouri. However, the race has run under three different title sponsors in the past six years, including Dodge, Ford and most recently with AT&T. The Georgia Partnership Economic Development took over formal ownership of the race from Medalist in 2007 and the 2008 edition also found support in Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle as chairman of a newly formed board of directors.
The race was touted as a stepping stone to the Tour de France, a tag line helped along by the attendance of one Lance Armstrong in the final two years of his Tour de France victories. Record crowds attended in those years, but the numbers have not sustained since.