After what may have been the shortest-ever appearance on the UCI calendar, the Tour of the Battenkill has been cancelled, according to an email race promoter Dieter Drake sent to teams on Monday.
In a copy of the email sent to Cyclingnews by one of the team directors, Drake wrote simply "Cancelled. Good luck." Drake confirmed in a separate email to Cyclingnews that the race has been cancelled.
"We just couldn't make it work with current state of pro cycling in the US," Drake said. "We thought it was different since we last held a UCI race, but the sponsorship climate is far worse now with events and teams. Our amateur event remains very popular, however, and we look forward to that event on May 20."
The one-day race in upstate New York last took place for professional riders in 2012, but organisers dropped the UCI event and focused on a gran fondo in the ensuing years. Drake announced on April 1 that the race would return this year, however, taking the date vacated by the cancelled Philadelphia International Cycling Classic.
"I spoke to the folks at Philadelphia, the race director Robin Mortin, and she gave us her blessing," Drake told Cyclingnews when he announced the UCI race. "We'll have a men's and women's race and they'll both be 1.2 on the UCI calendar.
"We saw a lot of cancellations, Philadelphia being the biggest, and we decided to come back because we put something together on short notice," Drake said at the time. "Also our budget doesn't even compare to a race like Philadelphia. We have the capabilities, the infrastructure and the people to do it."
The race's return to the UCI schedule was welcome news, especially after the Philadelphia cancellation as well as the inaugural Commonwealth Classic scheduled for Virginia in August. Some teams appeared to have balked, however, at Drake's attempt to get them to pony up $5,000 sponsorship "inscription" for the men's teams and $4,000 for the women.
In Drake's pitch to the teams to "support" the race, he said putting the event together with relatively late notice meant sponsorship would be hard to attain, and "professional cycling races are very expensive ventures."
"As such, we will need your help in 2017 to bring value to your sponsors and to the event," Drake wrote on a page of the race website that was devoted to the pro teams.
For their contribution, teams would receive hotel rooms for riders and staff and other logistical support, plus an "appropriate" prize list. Other perks included expo space, VIP passes, race banners, website logos and social media posts.
As of last week, only three teams were inscribed: two for the men's race and one for the women's.
Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake before studying English and journalism at the University of Oregon. He has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon.
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