Originally created 08/22/06

Event must find another sponsor

For the second consecutive year, the Tour de Georgia is seeking a new title sponsor.

Even before the Tour de France was marred by a drug scandal among its top cyclists - including Floyd Landis, who won both that race and last year's Georgia tour - the Ford Dealers Advertising Association of Georgia told organizers this summer that it was dropping sponsorship of the 2007 race.

Chris Aronhalt of Medalist Sports, which organizes the Tour de Georgia, said last week that Ford didn't give a specific reason for its decision.

"We had a beneficial experience our first year together," Aronhalt said. "I'm sure a lot of it had to do with the economy. There wasn't something specific. I'm confident we'll have a new (main sponsor) announced shortly."

A spokesman for the Ford advertising association would not comment.

Dodge was the tour's main sponsor for its first three years before dropping out and being replaced by Ford earlier this year.

Ford signed a three-year deal with the tour, but asked to opt out after just one year.

Aronhalt said his team has been working hard to secure a new sponsor and hopes to have one announced in the next couple of months.

"I'm confident we're going to have one shortly," he said. "We have several members on the ground looking right now. Without a doubt, we're going to see everyone on the starting line in 2007."

"I have great confidence Chris and the Medalist team will find a new sponsor," Greater Augusta Sports Council Executive Director Tammy Stout said. "The event has proven to be successful."

Stout said she is moving forward with plans for next year's race. The Sports Council is putting in a bid for a stage finish after holding stage starts and the overall start in previous years. The sports council will play host to Tour de Georgia representatives next month for a site visit.

"We're excited looking forward to next year," Stout said. "We'd like to host a different element."

The state and many individual communities that play host to parts of the tour have benefited from the Georgia event.

Last year, the race created an estimated $26.2 million in economic impact on the state, according to an independent study.


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