It does not look likely that the city of Covington will play host to the Tour de Georgia in 2008.
After months of speculation that the large cycling race would be cancelled, amidst doping scandals and rumors that there were no corporate sponsors for the event, Lt. Governor Casey Cagle's office announced at the end of October that the race would take place next year with the lieutenant governor taking over leadership of the event.
The following announcement that the host venues of the tour would be announced on Nov. 14 surprised members of the Covington Tour de Georgia Exploratory Committee who had been waiting for months for their official bid package from the tour.
Maurice Carter, husband of Mayor Elect Kim Carter and chairman of the exploratory committee, wrote in an e-mail to The News that since March he had been maintaining contact with Medalist Sports, the company which manages and presents the Tour de Georgia.
Carter wrote that the exploratory committee had sent delegations to several stages of the 2007 Tour de Georgia and had been waiting for an official invitation to submit a bid to host a race stage in 2008.
"We never received an invitation to bid, nor any other formal communication to say the approach to selecting host venues had changed," wrote Carter. "So, I am naturally puzzled by the Lt. Governor's statement that the host venues will be announced November 14."
Addressing the Covington City Council at their last meeting on Nov. 5, Carter said he had briefly talked with Cagle about the matter when the lieutenant governor visited the county earlier in October as the keynote speaker at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Newton County Administration Building.
Carter said he briefed Cagle on his concerns that Covington had been overlooked as a stage host for 2008. In addition State Senator John Douglas and State Representative Doug Holt have also been in touch with Cagle on the matter.
While it may be too late for 2008, Carter told the council the exploratory committee is building bridges with the lieutenant governor's office in hopes that the city will be selected to host a stage of the tour in 2009.
The 2008 Tour de Georgia will be held from April 21-27 and will include 10 host venues. One of the largest cycling races outside of Europe, since its establishment in 2003, the Tour de Georgia has attracted 2.8 million spectators and in 2007 contributed $27 million in direct economic impact to Georgia cities.
For more on the Tour de Georgia visit: www.tourdegeorgia.com.