February 2/05 6:26 am - Tour of Abitibi? One Year Hiatus? or GONE?
Posted by Editoress on 02/2/05
Tour of Abitibi? One Year Hiatus? or GONE?
Courtesy Presse Canadienne Translated with the assistance of Greg Descantes
Following the placement of Montreal's World Swimming Championships on life support, it's now the prestigious cycling Tour of Abitibi whose existence is threatened.
The Tour's director general, Claude Pagé, is holding out little hope that North America's only junior World Cup cycling event can be saved.
The big news at the end of the 36th edition last year was that Val D'Or, host city for the past six years, would not host the event in July 2005.
It was hoped that Rouyn-Noranda would take over, however le Journal learned Monday that city officials are prepared to refuse to do so.
The city would consider taking over host duties in 2006 under certain conditions.
"If Rouyn-Noranda does not accomodate the 37th edition this year, the Tour is dead," said Pagé. â€žThe regional capital must show leadership, it can't let go of a competition of this stature."
The federal deputy of Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Marc Lemay, believes that the Tour could return following a one-year absence.
"There's no denying the Tour is in danger, but we'd rather suspend the
event for one year, so we can regroup and come back stronger in 2006," said Lemay, Bloc Québécois spokesman for sport.
Léandre Drolet - le Jounal
The town of Rouyn-Noranda has refused to take over from Val-d'Or, host city of the junior cycling classic for many years.
The mayor of Rouyn-Noranda, Jean-Claude Beauchemin, said he doesn't want his town be solely responsible for the event that has seen the likes of Laurent Jalabert, Bobby Julich et Pierre Harvey stand atop its podium on their way to international stardom.
"The whole region must recognize the importance of the tour and appropriate it so that it's properly organized and funded."
Moreover, the mayor suggested that responsibility for organizing the tour alternate between the five regional municipalities of Abitibi-Témiscamingue. Beauchemin also wants the five municipalities to cooperate and contribute $50,000 each to the tour. The mayor did not return calls to le Journal yesterday to explain his decision.
Before it will agree to be the host city for 2006, Rouyn-Noranda is asking that a regional conference of elected officials and Sport and Recreation Abitibi-Témiscamingue recognize the regional character of the tour.
Without committing itself, Rouyn-Noranda suggested steps should nonetheless be taken now to preserve the international sanction of the tour, a futile step according to statements by tour general manager Claude Pagé in this paper Monday.
"If Rouyn-Noranda doesn't accomodate the 37th edition, the tour is dead," Pagé told le Journal.