March's news that the Anschutz Company would retain ownership and control of Anschutz Entertainment Group and AEG sailed by without much consideration in the world of cycling but Cyclingnews understands that the decision could have positive implications for the Tour of California with the race negotiating to retain its title sponsor Amgen.
AEG, owned by American billionaire Philip Anschutz had been put up for sale but Anschutz, a cycling fan himself, pulled the plug on the move. ESPN reported that he would be taking a more hands on role with the company's stock and one source told Cyclingnews that Anschutz's decision, along with the Tim Leiweke leaving AEG could see the Tour of California prosper. Under the restructure Dan Beckerman will take over as the president and CEO of AEG.
"Phil has always had an extraordinary passion for the Tour of California," a source with strong ties to the race and AEG told Cyclingnews.
The source went on to add that Leiweke had a polar opposite view of cycling.
"The Tour of California is race Phil cares about personally and to a tremendous extent. Tim didn't. Tim never had the passion for cycling or the passion to really realise Phil's vision to create a truly international stage race. He viewed it very much as a distraction."
"When AEG were up for sale there was a great deal of concern of what the future of the race would be under a new owner. Would there still be a passion to grow the race? There were a lot of question marks."
AEG and Amgen, which has been the title sponsor of the race since its inception in 2006, are currently in negotiations to extend their partnership. The current deal runs out this season but the source told Cyclingnews that "renewal conversations are ongoing now. I think they're moving in a positive direction."
Cyclingnews contacted Kristin Bachochin, Executive Director and Senior Vice President of AEG Sports. She confirmed that Amgen and AEG were in discussions to extend their current deal.
"Our conversations with Amgen are always on-going," she told Cyclingnews.
"In terms of Amgen, we have always kept the specifics of our race partnerships confidential but what I can tell you is that we have had a wonderful relationship with Amgen from the very first day and we have built an amazing event with them truly as partners. The have a tremendous leadership team throughout their entire organization and the working relationships we have established is fantastic.
"Both organizations share a similar vision with the long term future of this race and the Breakaway from Cancer initiative has become a focal point of the entire race and throughout the year. We look forward to continuing to spread the great message."
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Daniel Benson is the Editor in Chief at both Cyclingnews.com and BikePerfect.com. Based in the UK, he has worked within cycling for almost 15 years, and he joined the Cyclingnews team in 2008 as the site's first UK-based Managing Editor. In that time, he has reported on over a dozen editions of the Tour de France, several World Championships, the Tour Down Under, Spring Classics, and the London 2012 Olympic Games. With the help of the excellent editorial team, he runs the coverage on Cyclingnews and has interviewed leading figures in the sport including UCI Presidents and Tour de France winners.
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