May 24, 2005 – As team director one of the biggest things that I do is plan out a schedule of races that are interesting and challenging. You don’t want to make things too difficult but you want to develop a schedule that challenges the riders and provides them with goals for the season.
We had planned on attending the Tour de Beauce – although I had noticed that in past years the race spent some really big bucks on the Euro teams and the level of support offered to Canadian teams was decreasing. I always said it is their race they can do what they want.
Well this year the Tour de Beauce wanted $5,500 just for hotels and food. Add on some vehicles, staff fees and gas money and you’re easily hitting close to $8,000 or more to compete in the one week race.
In contrast, our whole trip to Europe for four weeks of racing (including flights, cars etc) is going to cost less than $8,000. As you can see, when you’re creative and leverage the greater cycling community, you can really stretch $8,000.
But forget the cash for one minute. What about supporting Canucks? People might point out that’s how things work – foreign teams get the cash – Canucks pay. Sorry, but when we were invited to race the Trans-Canada race several years ago we didn’t pay one cent. I’ve asked our host in Belgium and he said a big race in Belgium would offer any Belgium team the equivalent support (hotel/food) offered to foreign teams, but the Belgian team’s wouldn’t get start money.
It’s important to note that Canadian or North American teams cost the Beauce organization far less than the Euro teams. No flights, van rentals etc. Granted the prestige of the race is elevated by the prescence of the European teams… the question is the intangible value of ‘how much’ vs. our Canadian and American teams?
I don’t know what direction the Tour de Beauce is headed but I really don’t think its helping Canadian cycling as much as it could. What I find frustrating is the missed opportunity, the race could be doing more to help the sport – but hey it is their race.
In case you hadn’t read between the lines we are not attending the Tour de Beauce this year. I’ll likely be standing alone on principal on this issue but at a certain point you’ve got to make a stand. Maybe we’ll go next year…