Iconic Race Facing Potential Cancellation Due to Lack of Funds
Silver City, New Mexico (March 6, 2015) – For the past 28 years, Silver City, New Mexico has hosted the Tour of the Gila (TOG), one of the most iconic bicycle stage races in the United States. The TOG is one of America’s great stage races. It’s the American road cycling stage race where “Champions are Discovered™.”
Over the past three decades, the TOG has grown into an international road cycling race; equally important to major pro teams as it is to many, many domestic amateur clubs. With this mix of participants and the authentic, small-town Southwestern community backdrop, the TOG offers a very unique, global engagement opportunity.
The TOG is one of the only cycling stage races in America that’s both attainable and aspirational at the same time. Riders of all categories share the roads with the pro teams over the five-day stage race. The town of Silver City is intimate, offering the pros and amateurs to be able to converse and swap stories throughout the course of the race.
Earlier this week, the race directors of the TOG received word that a title sponsor had to pull investment. Because of this, the 2015 Tour of the Gila, which begins April 29, may not happen.
Today, the race directors are officially putting out the call to action to draw in angel sponsors to help Silver City pull off one of the greatest American road cycling stage races in 2015, offering Union Cycliste International (UCI) sanctioning / points.
To date, with this news, over 600 racers will not be able to experience this bucket-list cycling goal. Of that number, five international teams and six or more domestic men’s pro teams, as well as three international and between five and nine domestic women’s pro teams will not be racing at the TOG this year. This is a tragic loss for competitive cycling, for all levels of riders, in the United States and globally.
What’s more, small business owners and community members in Silver City, New Mexico will go without this major tourism draw that has incredible global reach.
This year was to be the first year for the race to receive UCI sanctioning for the pro women, putting Silver City, New Mexico on the international calendar of professional women’s cycling for the first time. The five-day race is optimally scheduled between Arkansas’ Joe Martin stage race and the AMGEN Tour of California, making it an ideal event for national and international teams to compete in. As a result, the registrations for teams from international and domestic locations are at an all-time high. What’s more, the Tour of the Gila has obtained a pro-bono public relations relationship with Verde Brand Communications, a leading provider of multi-service communications and engagement strategies in the outdoors active lifestyle markets. The partnership ensures that the exposure and amazing storytelling from the 2015 race will have international reach for title sponsors, for the first time.
Some of the teams slated to toe the start lines this year include UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling’s men’s and women’s teams, Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies, Drapac Professional Cycling, Team Venezuela, TWENTY16 p/b, SHO-AIR, Team SmartStop, Silber, H&R Block, Orgullo Antioqueño, along with many others.
The Tour of the Gila has overcome a similar challenge in the past. “We faced race cancellation in 2009,” race director Jack Brennan stated. “Once the word went out, the cycling community rose to the occasion and the race became one of the most successfully-attended races in Gila’s history. This is a grassroots event that relies largely on the unparalleled support of the Silver City community, which is a major feat in a town of 10,000 people.”
This year’s race is already tracking to be the strongest participation globally and internationally of any Gila in the past. The race still has a chance to continue for amateurs and pro riders.
“While posting this press release was very difficult, we felt that it was important to go forward with this announcement with the goal of saving and furthering the legacy the Gila for 2015,” Brennan continued. “We’ve always been known for being able to pull off a lot for a little and the door is open for a few companies or individuals to obtain a title sponsorship for this year.”
“We encourage entities interested in title sponsorship to call us to have a discussion about the opportunity that has become available. We are committed to making this legendary race a reality and we have given ourselves one week to find the funds,” said Michael Engleman, director of competition for the Tour of the Gila.
For more information on securing title sponsorship of one of America’s classic road bike stage races, please contact Jack Brennan at 575-590-2612.
About Tour of the Gila:
Taking place in and around Silver City, New Mexico, “The Gila” consists of three road race stages, an individual time trial, and a criterium. Stage 1 is a point-to-point road race ending on a 6.7-mile climb that peaks at a 19-percent grade en route to the ghost town of Mogollon. The criterium is held in downtown Silver City with high speeds, 90-degree turns and a brutal climb to weed out the weak. The iconic “Gila Monster” road race final stage consists of over 9,000 feet of climbing for the men and over 5,500 feet for the women, ending in the tiny enclave of Pinos Altos, nestled in the Gila National Forest.