Dale has a healthy skepticism about the event. "Organized in that hot bed of cycling activities: Lumberton, NC?" he wrote. "Heck, sounds great and stranger things have happened but the betting windows are now open as to whether this event will really take place."
Aqu, Inc., organizers of The Tour of America, a multi-stage coast-to-coast professional bicycle road race, have revised dates and a tentative race route for its September 2008 event.
Based upon feedback from racers, professional racing organizing bodies, the media and enthusiastic supporters of the event, the following changes have been made to The Tour of America: The race has been shortened to 21 stages; it will now cover approximately 2,200 miles (more than 3,500 km); and it will run from September 6-28, 2008.
Additionally, The Tour of America will start in New York's Central Park and finish in Palo Alto, Calif., a city known for its cycling culture. Click here for the complete schedule.
Frank Arokiasamy, Aqu's president, originally announced details of the event during a press conference at Interbike. As originally conceived, the race would have covered 4,000 miles (more than 6,000 km) with 27 stages during 30 days of competition.
"During and after our announcement at Interbike, almost daily I received emails and phone calls with positive and negative comments about the race," Arokiasamy said. "The overwhelming response showed there was an interest and a need for a 'Tour de France-style' race here in the United States. Based on the feedback from everyone, we realized our first plans were perhaps too ambitious and that the original race schedule didn't fit within standard racing protocols. To ensure the race would attract the best international racing teams and the support of both cycling enthusiasts and sports fans alike, we've modified the race schedule and route to its current form."
The 2008 Tour of America will be the largest spectator event in the history of U.S. sports, traveling from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. The event will invite 25 of the most elite cycling teams in the world to participate and will boast a prize purse currently pegged at $10 million, the largest purse of any international cycling event (reduced from $11 million, due to the new shortened schedule).
Until this venture by Aqu, all major international cycling races were held outside the U.S. Smaller stage races are currently held across the country and draw respectable spectator crowds and provide significant economic impact to local communities. However, these races are geographically located within single states, while The Tour of America will span approximately 18 states and will travel through hundreds of towns and cities along the way. As such, The Tour of America is expected to attract millions of spectators along the 2,200-mile route.
Cities along the race's route include New York City, Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Denver, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Napa, Santa Rosa and Palo Alto, to name a few. Of note to industry members, the Las Vegas event includes a time trial, to be held the evening of September 22, the first day of Interbike's OutDoor Demo.
"Our goal is to make this race happen in September 2008," Arokiasamy added, "There is a lot to accomplish between now and then. With help and cooperation of host cities, racers, bicycle racing enthusiasts and potential sponsors, we can make it happen. The United States needs its own world caliber race and one that will be around for a long time."