San Francisco Twilight Criterium canceled for 2009

Posted on 11. May, 2009 by in news

The organizers of the San Francisco Twilight Criterium announced that the event will be postponed until September of 2010, due to a lack of adequate sponsorship.

San Francisco Twilight Crit - Photo by Ken Conley

2008 San Francisco Twilight Crit - Photo by Ken Conley/kwc.org

“Unfortunately, in this lackluster economic climate, securing sponsorship dollars is a tough task,” said race director Ryan Dawkins of Project Sport, LLC. “We had a choice between putting on a smaller event or waiting until next year to do it right, and on the grand scale our fans expect.”

USA Cycling National Events Manager Tom Vinson said he supports the race’s postponement. The San Francisco Twilight Criterium is the latest in a number of events on the National Racing Calendar (NRC) that have had to be called off due to challenging economic conditions.

“While we always hate losing an event, we look forward to having the race back on the calendar next year, just as strong and well-run as it was in 2008,” Vinson said.

Large crowds turned out last year to see national cycling champions and Olympians race through one of San Francisco’s most scenic neighborhoods, on a course that included the city’s equivalent of Rodeo Drive. But when Dawkins put out the call for additional sponsorship, there were few takers.  Proman’s Shelley Olds and Time Pro’s Daniel Ramsey won the inaugural edition of the race in 2008.

“We had some nibbles, but nothing in the form of a title sponsor that would have made it possible to have a world-class event,” he said. “But we are already well into our planning for next year. We look forward to finding a company that realizes the benefits of putting their name on an exciting, family-friendly event that promotes the healthy lifestyle cherished by so many people in the Bay Area.”

So far four races have been canceled this year: the Oregon Pro Cycling Classic,  the women’s Priority Health Tour de Leelanau, both scheduled for May, and the Priority Health Grand Cycling Classic p/b Spectrum Health in September.  Still unclear as to status is the Ann Arbor Cycling Classic p/b Saint Joseph Mercy Medical System, which originally had the same title sponsor, Priority Health, as the Grand Cycling Classic.

Also, three long-standing races on the USA Cycling Professional Tour calendar are gone for 2009: the men’s Priority Health Tour de Leelanau, and the two  opening races in Philly Week: the Commerce Bank Lehigh Valley Classic and the Commerce Bank Reading Classic.  Even the 25-year running, Philly race, the Philadelphia Cycling Championship went to the wire before funding was found to continue the race this year.

Next year’s San Francisco Twilight Criterium is scheduled for Sept. 4, 2010. Companies that are interested in becoming part of the 2010 edition of the race can contact Dawkins directly at 415.287.4253 or e-mail him at ryan@projectsport.com

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8 Responses to “San Francisco Twilight Criterium canceled for 2009”

  1. Name wil m

    11. May, 2009

    Dragging out the soapbox here, but if USAC had done something, ANYthing to make the sport more marketable and commercially viable many of these races would be fine. Economical marketing hangs tough in down markets, and had bike racing been positioned better, it would be offering the biggest bang for the buck right now.

    Instead, the bass fishing lobby (with a miniscule economic footprint compared to cycling) owns VS programming right now, while our best domestic racers share a Motel 6 room somewhere between Nowhere New Mexico and Arkansas.

    There is no reason a race in a media market like San Francisco should wither and die–sponsors should be clamoring for that space.

    Here’s hoping Ryan gets some good luck–he’s done a great job so far!

  2. Matt

    12. May, 2009

    I can agree with the first post….plus it was such a FUN event!! It was one of my target races for the season and now I’ll just have to live with Cross Vegas in September!
    Those project sport guys put on a great race – I hope they get back next year!

  3. MB

    12. May, 2009

    Wil M – what could USAC do?

  4. lyne

    12. May, 2009

    Thanks for the comments. So what should USAC do to make cycling more marketable in the US?

  5. Name wil m

    12. May, 2009

    You asked…here’s just a couple ideas

    USAC first needs to fix the NRC to make the events worth more and drive up the value of team sponsorship. It’s ridiculous that racers earn next to nothing. By increasing the value of the sport, USAC increases its revenue stream, right?

    1. Make NRC a true series of events in significant media markets or that can be well-produced for broadcast, web, TV, whatever

    2. Take an ownership stake in the events to help drive sponsorship–race promoters aren’t experts at getting large corporate sponsors, USAC is

    3. Create a more consistent look and production value at these races so that they represent the best in the sport

    4. Make more like NASCAR and even surfing in developing and promoting personalities within the sport, and developing the sport as a lifestyle brand

    5. Not NRC related, but create an affinity program that makes the average Joe or Jane cyclist want to join USAC (revenue and eyeballs!)

    Simply, the sport generates its money via ad space on jerseys and races. Right now that ad space is near worthless because so few eyeballs catch it. Many large sponsorship deals are more an emotional investment than a logical investment, and that’s not a business model you can depend on.

    I promoted a race that was NRC for a few years. When USAC jacked the fees by 20%, I had the opportunity to ask Steve Johnson a direct question: By increasing my financial obligation, what is USAC doing to help me gain financing? (That is, are my deliverables or benefits going to increase? I can’t just tell the sponsor the price is going up without giving them something extra.) Mr. Johnson had no answer except that USAC needed to increase revenues. What a lame place to look for it. That’s when I got out of that business.

  6. Name wil m

    12. May, 2009

    Oh, one more thing–why isn’t there a leader’s jersey for the NRC??
    This is just one example of why most sponsors don’t give a rat’s ass about the NRC–they’ve never heard of it!

  7. lyne

    12. May, 2009

    Interesting stuff Will. I was just about to post up the NRC standings and talk about the last point you just made.

    I do agree with you that very few people/sponsors know about the NRC and why should they? It’s not promoted.

    I think this deserves it’s own specific post – with your comments in the post. stay tuned, and thanks.

  8. Greg

    13. May, 2009

    For real, get some cameras, do some slick editing, have some exciting announcers like Joe Jefferson in MABRA. Crit racing is EXCITING. It’s fast, it’s tough, it’s dangerous. Some of the racers are also really cool and funny, shouldn’t be that hard to build some excitement for certain personalities.