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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tour of Missouri Organizers All But Concede That There Will Be No Race This Year

Posted By on Thu, May 27, 2010 at 11:22 AM

Budget woes coupled with political infighting appears to have derailed the fourth running of the Tour of Missouri.
  • Budget woes coupled with political infighting appears to have derailed the fourth running of the Tour of Missouri.
After months of pedaling uphill, it would appear that the Tour of Missouri, one of the most high-profile bicycle races in the U.S., has run out of steam and will have to cancel this year's competition.

So what's next?

"Our plan B is to manage the aftereffects of unwinding momentum," Tour of Missouri chairman Mike Weiss tells Daily RFT this morning in an e-mail. "I think that while Jay [Nixon] is in office, we're going to be dormant."

Weiss and other Tour organizers are particularly upset that their repeated attempts to meet personally with the governor and state Tourism Commission members were met with stone-cold silence.

As Weiss puts it, "The fact the governor of our state would never directly address our group, despite a three-year history, 3,500 calls and letter from the General Assembly, is alarming."

The state's Division of Tourism and the Tourism Commission have sponsored the race since its beginning in 2007. This year, however, tourism officials say they cannot afford to make the $1 milllion contribution because of severe budget shortalls. Tourism's budget has so far been cut from about $20 milion to $13.4 million.

Weiss, though, says money was never the issue, but rather Nixon's fierce, and at times, acrimonious, political rivalry with Republican Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, a major Tour of Missouri booster and the Democatic governor's most likely challenger in 2012.

Had the competion gone forward, nearly 120 world-class cyclists from 24 countries were expected to participate in the 5-day, 500-mile race that was to have begun August 31.

There are reports that representatives of Medalist Sports, which produces the event, have pulled out, which Daily RFT is now trying to confirm.

Concludes Weiss: "Medalist will proceed with plans to move the calendar dates to another state."

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