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Tour of Missouri canceled

(photo by Mike Lippmann)
Riders sprint through downtown St. Louis in the opening stage of the 2009 Tour of Missouri

By Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis – A lack of state support has forced the organizer of the Tour of Missouri to cancel the bike race's fourth year.

"It's become clear that the Governor and the Tourism Commission no longer support the event, and without the partnership with the state, a world-wide event of this magnitude likely would not be successful," Medalist Sports managing partner Chris Aronhalt wrote in an e-mail.

The budget committee of the Missouri Tourism Commission approved a spending plan that did not include a requested $1 million in state funding for the 2010 Tour. The full Commission could reinstate the money, but that's unlikely.

Tourism Commission officials have said all along the state cannot afford to direct that much money to one event in a tight budget year - an explanation Tour chairman Mike Weiss refused to accept.

"In every conversation I had with the Division of Tourism, we'd want to talk about Lance Armstrong, about international stars and international media focusing on Missouri. And what we would get would be a dialogue about the discord between the lieutenant governor and the governor," Weiss said.

Peter Kinder, the Republican lieutenant governor, has been one of the race's biggest proponents. He's also a likely challenger to Gov. Jay Nixon in 2012.

A spokesman for Nixon said the decision about funding ultimately rests with the Tourism commission. He did not answer questions about Weiss's accusation of politics.

The race could be saved if a private donor or corporate sponsor steps up soon, said race vice-chairman Brent Hugh, but he called such a move unlikely.


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