Exergy Tour in trouble

Brian Losness-US Presswire

More fallout from the uncertainty surrounding Exergy, one of the major sponsors of US cycling, this time threatening the biggest women's stagerace in North America. The race finds itself without an organizer as Medalist Sports announce that they will not arrange the second edition in 2013. The future of the race is now unclear as Exergy the owner and title-sponsor currently have no answer to the question of who will be running the race scheduled to start six months from now.

Cyclingnews are reporting today that the women's Exergy Tour is without an organizer for 2013 as Medalist Sports will not return to handle the practical arrangements as they did for the inaugural race in 2012. This seems like the latest installment of the troubled saga that is Exergy's involvement in USA cycling. It started out so promising with the Boise based energy-company stepping in to back the Twenty12 women's team built around Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong. That was followed by the establishment of the Exergy Tour and a broader commitment to USA Cycling as a whole. The first edition or the tour was by all accounts a success even though the intended star, Armstrong crashed out and sustained an injury that jeopardized her Olympic participation. The victory of the new shining star of US cycling, Evelyn Stevens, more than made up for Armstrong's bad luck.

Worrying news started to appear later in the fall as there were reports of Exergy failing to making payments, both to race partners and to regular business partners. Others had to step in and rescue races as Exergy did not live up to their sponsorships, most notably USA Cycling itself had to save the 2013 Cyclocross World Championships in Louisville. In the wake of the USADA report Exergy then announced that they were pulling their sponsorship of their men's team citing a lack of faith in men's cycling. They did however assure that their support for the women's team would stay in place and it has since been presented as Team Exergy Twenty16. Most comments seemed to lean towards the withdrawal being based on the company's financial situation rather than ethics and the level of faith in the company's commitments has been pretty low since then.

So it seems that Medalist, who runs some of the biggest races in North America, shared that mistrust and have elected not to handle operations for the Idaho race in 2013. They don't say as much but it seems the logical interpretation that this is why they have stepped away from the race after just one year. The race is both owned and sponsored by Exergy so it will be up to them to find a replacement organizer if the UCI calendar is not to suffer another huge blow losing it's second stagerace of the year as the Tour of New Zealand has already been cancelled following financial troubles related to increased costs of doping testing. In it's second year the Exergy Tour was looking like it was going to establish itself as one of the season's bigger races and the calendar is in dire need of challenging stageraces. They have become fewer and fewer these last years, almost reaching the point were there are almost no races for the specialists anymore. The Exergy Tour in it's first edition was nowhere near the difficulty of it's old Ore Ida ancestor but the potential is certainly there if it will be allowed to build.

The most likely scenario at this point is that someone (read USA Cycling most likely) will have to step in as co-sponsor or provider of financial guarantees if anyone is to take on the task of organizing the race as Exergy doesn't have the credibility. The situation with losing it's organizer is quite similar to the one that the GiroDonne finds itself in. The difference there being that that race is owned by the Italian federation and not an independent company, making the situation less complex to resolve in the short run even if the financial challenges are the same. How do you deal with the race owner being the wildcard factor? Hopefully there is a political will to make it happen but it is a deeply troubling situation that the race finds itself in and the chances of it taking place in June as planned seem remote at this point.

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