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Tour de Georgia nixed for 2010
Cycling race was last held in 2008
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Forsyth County News

Local cyclists were sad to learn the Tour de Georgia has been canceled for 2010.

The cycling race was also canceled in 2009 due to financial struggles.

The seven-day race, known as one of North America’s top professional cycling events, has found no title sponsor for the last two years.

In a statement to the media, Tom Saddlemire, board member of the Tour de Georgia Foundation, said organizers remain committed to reviving the race “as soon as possible.”

He said calling off the race was the best decision for the “current economic climate.”

Stefanie Paupeck, spokeswoman for the state Department of Economic Development, said overall, the Tour de Georgia was a lucrative event for the state.

“In its six years of operation it generated more than $186 million in economic impact for Georgia’s communities,” Paupeck said.

The weeklong cycling race passed through Forsyth County several years, including 2006, when Cumming served as a tour host city.

In 2008, the tour's fifth stage passed through the county, traveling from Suwanee 133.4 miles north through 10 counties. A stretch of Castleberry Road near Cumming served as a Power Sprint location.

People came from across the globe to see the Tour de Georgia, which included some of the sport’s most prestigious athletes.

Lance Armstrong won the race in 2004, but interest in the event declined with his retirement in 2005.

Paupeck said the state Department of Economic Development, which initiated the Tour de Georgia in 2003, understands the economic concerns of the Georgia Partnership for Economic Development.

“Obviously, we respect the decision of the board,” Paupeck said.

Ben Kastner, vice president of the Gainesville-based Chicken City Cyclists, said he always enjoyed watching the Tour de Georgia and is disappointed that the race has once again been shelved.

“On the East Coast I don’t know how many events like that there are,” Kastner said.

Kastner said while it takes a significant investment to put on the event, it generates a great deal of money too.

“It brings a lot of money into the state ... so I don’t know how much you can blame the economy, it really helps the economy,” Kastner said.

A survey last year by North Georgia College & State University shows that the 2008 Tour de Georgia had a direct economic impact of $38.6 million in Georgia, up from $27 million in 2007, a 40 percent increase.

Gainesville Police Chief Frank Hooper said he thinks the loss of the Tour de Georgia will not have much of a financial impact on his city.

The city incurs costs with police working overtime at the event and public works employees setting up barricades.

“It’s a lot of work on us but it also brings a lot of people into town, which helps the economy,” Hooper said. “It’s kind of a Catch-22.”

People who are not familiar with cycling may not know the significance of the race, Kastner said.

“It’s one of the warm-up events or the training events for the Tour de France, which is the World Series or the Super Bowl of cycling,” Kastner said. “It draws guys from all over the world.”

Kastner said it is exciting to see top cyclists riding the same roads that he does.

“It’s a shame we won’t get to see any of those guys coming through Gainesville,” Kastner said.