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The Tour of America
 
By Staff
Date: 11/2/2007
The Tour of America
 

The Tour of America
“Right now we are starting to build on this event. We are learning at every turn. We made it more realistic with less stages and distances. We took positive input and used it. This is what we need!”
Frank Arokiasamy

By Brian C. Grenier

The Tour of America
The tour of America project was first announced in September with a press release describing the race as: The event will be the largest spectator event in the history of U.S. sports, covering approximately 4,000 miles (more than 6,000 km) from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, with 27 stages held during 30 days of competition. The event will invite twenty-five of the most elite cycling teams in the world and will boast a prize purse currently pegged at $11 million, the largest purse of any international cycling event. The Tour of America will span approximately 22 states and will cover hundreds of towns and cities along the way.

"This event will be the greatest international cycling event in the world," said Aqu, Inc. President Frank Arokiasamy. "The Tour of America will provide the largest prize pool to international cyclists ever offered in history and will ensure quality competition from beginning to end. We are excited to finally bring one of the world's largest spectator sports to the United States through a major international competition."

Creating a Spectacle:
When Frank Arokiasamy later held a press conference in Interbike that week the response was far from positive from the assembled press. The respected media had a lot of reservations about the concept: 4,009 miles was out of the question as too long was the first complaint, already 21 day Grand Tours were deemed too hard on riders stretching them to the limits of endurance. A course from New York to California against the prevailing winds would be impossible and only make it harder. There is no room in the International Schedule, the UCI would never license the race... only a few of the reasons that some saw as obstacles for to the project, that any of us had dreamed at some time in the past: a Grand Tour as big as the Giro, Tour and Vuelta.

Frank an economist by background, and an admitted avid sports enthusiast was thankful for the objections as he said this was what he wanted; to start the dialogue and gain some help of the cycling media to advise his group on what was needed to bring the dream to a reality. What Frank did say was that he had done research and approached sponsors and knew he could deliver the money (a $11 million in prizes) if a true spectacle was presented. Frank simply asked for the support, help and advice of the assembled media; he also commented that he believed that cycling needed the event to continue the growth of the sport in North America. He might have an excellent point in this; as the scandals in Europe

The Dream
Frank’s dream started 5 years ago when he was watching the Tour de France on television. He became highly dismayed that he couldn’t see the great race in person unless he traveled to Europe. He began to think, “why not here?”

Through the years he noticed some of the US Pro Tour races struggle, but the underlying current was that these races were in fact pumping millions into local economies. For example: the 2007 Tour of CA pumped in over 100 million into the state’s economy! The problem as he saw it was on the sponsorship side. Why would a major national sponsor shell out millions to put on a race that in all reality was a local event? Sponsors prefer exposure beyond the local level. Frank saw that the wrong economic model was being applied to the business side of things, this is where he saw the promise of something big!

The Project
This is the first of a series of articles and interviews on the Tour of America. I will look at the project as just that, a project good or bad. Through the ensuing months we will have a number of interviews with Frank Arokiasamy and his staff covering a diverse range of topics from money to cycling politics and how they impact the Tour of America.

The possibility of a Tour of America is more than an interesting idea, as a result we will be setting up a "Tour of America section" on the Daily Peloton Forums where readers can voice their concerns and questions, debate the race and course, suggest routes and interact with Frank Arokiasamy and his staff.

Sponsors
Tell a company that sponsors athletic events that you can bring them an audience of millions of people, coast to coast, and you will get their attention! Tell a town or a state that you are looking to pump 50 million into their local economies, and they will be looking for the signature block!

Duplicate this in 21 towns across America, and you will have a stampede reminiscent of the blue-light specials at your local department store! Make the whole thing limited membership with competitive bidding and people will be crawling over each other to get in! From a purely economic viewpoint this is a solid business model that works. From a reality standpoint one could say it isn’t about the money…it’s about cooperation.

The Tour of America is this viable economic model, built by economist and Tour Director; Frank Arokiasamy, The venture is also backed by Aqu Inc., a North Carolina based company that is committed to organizing a yearly tour from the east coast to the west coast in the same vein as the Tour de France.

“We believe that the country is ready for just such a venture. The Tour de France will always hold the honor of being the preeminent cycling race in the world. It is steeped in history and pride that will be hard to rival. However the Tour of America will seek to replicate the pride and tradition of this incredible event, but to have it staged in the United States”. Frank Arokiasamy

I have to say that after talking with Frank Arokiasamy, I was impressed with his depth of knowledge in the financial and sponsorship areas. He laid out a plan that not only sounded feasible from a business standpoint, but also from an event standpoint.

The business side is actually what seemed to be the easiest. Create an athletic “spectacle” of extended duration, bring it to millions of people nation wide (this is a number without the inclusion of televised media), and have said event physically take place in numerous cities and towns across the nation. Invite the best professional cycling teams in the world, and offer major companies in the US slots for sponsorship. Plan for future expansion to neighboring countries and international companies, and it is a win-win situation!

“Build it and they will come”
The prize for winning the Tour of America-10 million dollars! Did I mention the 10 million dollars? An amount far in excess of some professional cycling teams’ operating budgets for an entire year! Will the people come? You bet!

At issue is cooperation
An event of this magnitude is going to take numerous people coming together with one goal in mind…putting on the very best cycling event in the world! Various organizations will have to throw their weight into the ring to get the job done.

The US Pro Calendar might be adjusted or arranged tactfully in order to make it work. Pro cyclists from the world over will be invited and taken care of to make it even more enticing. (Ask any European pro what he thinks of racing in the US and they all will tell you they love it! This is fresh territory for them, and they are taken care of exceptionally well here. (From housing to meals, the hospitality is unparalleled.)

Yes, people and organizations will have to give up a little bit of rice from their bowls in order to contribute to the greater good of U.S. cycling. Think about it; is there really anything bad that can come from it? WE can make it bigger, WE can make it better, WE can pull it off. It is all about pulling together and being one team. Isn’t that what being an American is all about?

“Right now we are starting to build on this event. We are learning at every turn. We made it more realistic with less stages and distances. We took positive input and used it. This is what we need!” Frank Arokiasamy

There will be scoffers and naysayers. Columbus had the same problem, however the ship is leaving port with or without you!

Tour of America - Proposed Stages:
Stage Date Start Finish Miles/Km Estimated Cumulative Distance
Prologue 9/06/08# Battery Park Central Park New York 7/11
1 9/07/08 Edison, NJ - Baltimore, MD 169/270 176/281
2 9/08/08 Frederick, MD - Monroeville, PA 178/285 354/566
3 9/09/08 Steubenville Ohio - Columbus   149/238 503/804
4 9/10/08 Grove City, Ohio - Greensburg, IN 152/243 655/1047
5 9/11/08# Rushville, IN - Indianapolis, IN 48/77 703/1124
6 9/12/08 Terre Haute, IN - Edwardsville, IL 154/246 857/1370
7 9/13/08 St Louis, MO - Columbia, MO 145/232 1002/1602
8 9/14/08 Columbia  - Lawrence, Kansas 165/264   1167/1866

Rest/TransferDay 9/15/08 Lawrence, KS Colorado Springs, CO (via Air)

9 9/16/08* Colorado Sp, CO Georgetown, CO 115/184 1282/2050
10 9/17/08 Vail, CO - Grand Junction, CO 148/237   1430/2287
11 9/18/08 Fruita, CO - Emery, UT 153/245   1583/2532
12 9/19/08* Salina - Cedar City, UT 134/214  1717/2746
13 9/20/08 St. George, - Las Vegas, NV 152/243  1869/2989
14 9/21/08 # Las Vegas, NV Las Vegas, NV 25/56  1904/3045

Rest Day 9/22/08 Las Vegas, NV Amargosa Valley, NV

15 9/23/08* Amargosa, Nevada  - Lone Pine, CA 144/230  2048/3275
16 9/24/08* Big Pine - Yosemite, CA 118/189    2166/3464
17 9/25/08* Bridgeport - Olympic Valley, CA 121/194   2287/3658

18 9/26/08 S. Lake Tahoe - Davis, CA 120/192    2407/3850
19 9/27/08 Santa Rosa - Santa Clara 120/192    2527/4042
20 9/28/08 Santa Clara - San Francisco 100/160   2627/4202
# Time Trials
* Mountain Stages

Vitacost.com

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