Economy forces cancellation of Vancouver's 2009 Tour de Gastown
The Tour de Gastown, the high-speed cycling race that annually attracted a crowd of 20,000-plus on a July evening to the historic neighbourhood, has fallen victim to the economic downturn.
The Gastown Business Improvement Society confirmed Monday that it was unable to secure enough sponsorship money to stage this year’s event.
“It’s time to call it a wrap,” said Leonore Sali, the society’s executive director. “But we’re already planning for next year. We’re definitely going to be back.”
The popular criterium race over the cobblestones of Water Street and along Carroll and Cordova was first held in 1973. Over the last decade, it has been part of B.C. Superweek, which included the three-day Tour de White Rock and Tour de Delta events and, in the last couple of years, the Giro di Burnaby criterium.
Organizers of the Burnaby race cancelled a month ago, citing sponsorship shortfalls.
Last week, Sali revealed GBIS had secured only about $40,000 of the $120,000 needed to stage the Gastown race.
“We had some people that were interested, but it was just too late,” she said. “It has to be done well and done right. It is a professional race and we started to get concerned about timing. We just couldn’t wait for the people to go back to their head offices and let us know whether they can or cannot be involved and how much they can.
“It’s very disappointing … it’s really a very important sporting event for the city.”
Sali said the society is in talks with “a very professional group” to assume the organizing duties and she’s positive the race will return in 2010.
The July 10-12 Tour de Delta, which includes a prologue, a road race and a criterium around the streets of Ladner and offers $25,000 in prize money, and the July 17-19 Tour de White Rock, which offers $15,000 in prize money for a hill climb, criterium and a road race, will go ahead this summer.
Rider liaison Jamie Davidson, who recruits top pro riders for the events, said Delta is trying to have its criterium replace Gastown for 2009 in USA CRITS, a $500,000 series of criteriums in cities like Athens, Ga., Washington, D.C., Dallas and Las Vegas. Being a part of USA CRITS helped Gastown attract riders from the U.S., Cuba and New Zealand.
Davidson said losing Gastown and Burnaby for 2009 is “not good,” but he noted a lot of races in the U.S. have run into financial trouble and that could mean “a lot of racers looking for races.”
maybe the fireworks savers group can get involved