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A grand ‘Tour of Oregon’ is closer than you think

Posted by on May 30th, 2008 at 2:36 pm

The Mt. Hood Cycling Classic
in downtown Portland.
(Photos © J. Maus)

A study released yesterday by two Georgia colleges found that the Tour de Georgia — a week-long professional road race that wrapped up in April — contributed $38 million to that state’s economy. That news comes on the heels of an announcement to expand the recently concluded Mt. Hood Cycling Classic into a statewide event.

Could we be seeing a Tour of Oregon in 2009? Absolutely. That’s if Mt. Hood Cycling Classic (MHCC) spokesman Tre Hendricks has anything to do with it.

With it’s exciting opening stages, the MHCC brought big-time bike racing to downtown Portland for the first time ever and the City of Portland not only put out the welcome mat, they invested $30,000 to help make it happen.

And the investment paid off.

Hendricks estimates (based on the formula used by researchers in the Georgia report) that the MHCC brought in $760,000 to the city of Portland and a total of $2.6 million statewide. And now, he wants to make the race much bigger and better for 2009.

“The options for the race are limitless. Oregon is the perfect to state in which to hold a world-class stage race, we’ve got growing metropolitan areas, high desert, 3 distinct mountain ranges, the Gorge, Willamette Valley wine country, and a spectacular coastline.”
Tre Hendricks

His plans are for an eight-day stage race that would take competitors from Portland to Salem, from Salem up to Mt. Hood, down the mountain and through the Columbia River Gorge, and then back to Portland for the finale.

This idea might sound familiar.

Back in November of 2006, Portland City Commissioner Sam Adams told a group of leaders from Oregon’s cycling industry that, “I would like to see a world-class bike racing event in Portland.” He then encouraged the group to come up with a proposal to garner funds from a surplus in the city’s general fund.

Mt. Hood Classic at Mt. Tabor -44.jpg

Oregonians love bike racing!

The exciting idea never quite panned out, but now, the organizers behind the Mt. Hood Cycling Classic, are poised and motivated to finally turn this vision into a reality.

Hendricks told me today that he is already working with state tourism officials and others on plans for 2009. He said in addition to the much larger geographic scale of the race, they’re working on a national television coverage deal with Comcast Sportsnet and/or the Versus Channel.

Another component of the race in 2009 will be a recreational ride/tour that will follow the same route as the pros.

Beyond next year, Hendricks says in 2010, “the options for the race are limitless. Oregon is the perfect to state in which to hold a world-class stage race, we’ve got growing metropolitan areas, high desert, 3 distinct mountain ranges, the Gorge, Willamette Valley wine country, and a spectacular coastline.”

Stay tuned for more developments on this exciting effort.

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  • ambrown May 30, 2008 at 2:50 pm

    This sounds spectacular.

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  • itripn May 30, 2008 at 3:00 pm

    Absolutely awesome.

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  • nuovorecord May 30, 2008 at 3:13 pm

    Mountaintop finish at Timberline Lodge! Can you just imagine the crowds lining the road, names painted on the pavement, cowbells clanging, fat guys dressed like Satan chasing the racers up the mountain. I think I\’ll go stake out my place right now! 🙂

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  • Mmann May 30, 2008 at 3:18 pm

    We\’ve got the roads, the scenery, and the fans to make this a spectacular race. I hope it happens.

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  • Paul Souders May 30, 2008 at 3:22 pm

    Aw hell yeah.

    Hey wait what am I doing in my office looking a website ABOUT BIKES on a day like this?

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  • itripn May 30, 2008 at 3:24 pm

    Yeah, and maybe like in France, everyone takes the first day of the race off in order to watch 🙂

    I\’d probably save my vacations days to watch the whole thing.

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  • encephalopath May 30, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Watching the Tour of California, I\’ve noticed that apart from the a couple of the coastal stages, the scenery isn\’t all that interesting. (Maybe I\’ve missed some of the better ones or something)

    And it ends in Thousand Oaks or Pasadena…hmmm. San Jose to Modesto?

    Oregon can do way better than that.

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  • joel May 30, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    the tour of californias big failing (to me) is that the REALLY good climbing areas (say, like the sierras) dont even open up their roads to traffic until about june – at which point, getting the big teams to come compete there, when they could be in europe, is pretty much a lost cause. thus, the race gets kept close to the coast, early in the season, and frankly, i just dont get that excited about it. hard? yes. quality racing? yes. freaking unbelieveably epic, like a stage race through the mountains of california really could be? no.

    the risk of snow still on some of the higher roads here is still high, but our big passes arent at 8-9000 feet (i think the biggest in oregon is sub-6000), and thus are a bit more likely to be cleared at a reasonable time of year. thus, more accessible epic 🙂

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  • Bryan May 30, 2008 at 4:56 pm

    Sounds exciting!

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  • Pete May 30, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Joel, great point about the good climbing; we\’re pretty hit-and-miss with spring weather here. Stage 5 had to be changed to a 75-mile point-to-point from Dufur to Mt. Hood and it was a tough leg for the racers.

    The problem they encountered with spreading around the geography of the race is the logistics of housing and trucking the bikes and equipment around. I agree the varied scenery makes for a more exciting race (and broader exposure for sponsors), but there is a cost. With our help we can make it bigger and better than that other tour in that other west coast state!

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  • Jeff May 30, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    What a grand tour of Oregon is going to need is world-class promotion and advertising. Word of mouth may not be able to carry the kind of crowds they need to generate appropriate revenue and returns for sponsor investments. It\’s time to step up the level and really make the event shine…

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  • Mark C May 31, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    I second what Jeff said. This could really be awesome with large, crazy crowds. I went to the prologue this year and I was really disappointed with the size crowd, although those that did attend were enthusiastic. For a city that claims to be the cycling mecca of the U.S. we need to do a lot better than this year.

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  • mac June 1, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    How about a nice time trial around the rim of crater lake? A nice bit of climbing involved and no better scenery for a bike race in the country.

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  • J June 2, 2008 at 10:27 am

    Mark C: I can\’t speak for everyone, but I know a few of us wanted to go to the time trial in Portland but were stuck at work. Weekdays are tough 🙁

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