Tour de Nez looks forward
TRUCKEE – After an expensive setback, the organizer of the Tour de Nez bicycle race has big plans for the future.
The Tahoe-Reno based bicycle race was in jeopardy after the organization was unable to pay for television coverage on the Outdoor Life Network, which was a part of their contract with the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority. The race and authority, however, reached an agreement last week to pay back the $20,000 for their sponsorship over the next three years. Race director Tim Healion said that not only would the race go forward, but he hoped to expand it over the next couple of years.
“We may add another stage in Tahoe. We want to focus less on Reno and more on the rest of the race,” Healion said.
Another major change will be moving the race from June to September, which Healion hopes will benefit both the race and its locations. Benefits of the move would include less impact on local traffic in the Tahoe-Truckee area, better scheduling for racers and a possible stage of the race in Las Vegas to coincide with the bicycling industry’s trade show, Interbike, Healion said.
“It’s really hard for teams to drive from Philadelphia to Reno and back to Minnesota for races in June,” Healion said.
He also said that holding a stage of the race with Interbike would draw more international racers to the Tour de Nez, increasing the race’s popularity.
From there, Healion hopes to continue expanding the race.
“We may try do stages in the Bay Area and Napa, turn it into a week long event, but that’s a couple years away,” Healion said.
The event is relatively new to the Tahoe-Truckee area, with the June 2006 event being the first to have a start/finish in Tahoe City. The last two years have featured a Thursday evening race in downtown Truckee.
Andy Chapman, the director of tourism with the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association, has already seen both the positives and the negatives of the race.
“I saw a lot of people in downtown Tahoe City, and there were some traffic impacts,” Chapman said. “I think its phenomenal with this growing sport to showcase our area.”
While September is still a busy month, Chapman said the change of date would probably be beneficial.
“The fact that kids are back in school means there aren’t as many folks on the road,” he said.
Truckee Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Lynn Saunders also found the race to be beneficial to the community, but was less enthusiastic about the change of date.
“I think the event was very well received. It’s a great event and it holds great potential, Saunders said. “September is already quite full, I would rather see it in June.”