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Amgen weighing its future with Tour of California

Biotech firm Amgen, the title sponsor of the Tour of California since its inception in 2006, is weighing its future involvement with the race.

After its first three-year sponsorship ended in 2008, the Thousand Oaks, California-based biotech company signed on for another three-year deal, which came to term at the race’s completion on May 22.

Owned and operated by AEG Sports, the Tour of California faces several unknowns heading into 2012 and beyond.

Along with securing title sponsorship, AEG Sports must restructure its leadership after its president, Andrew Messick, announced he is leaving his post to take a position with the World Triathlon Corporation.

Amgen has used the California stage race to launch an anti-doping educational campaign, targeted at riders and fans, as well as the opportunity to launch its Breakaway From Cancer initiative, aimed at increasing awareness of resources available to cancer patients.

As the title sponsor, Amgen has right of first refusal to renew its backing of the event. Industry insiders estimate Amgen’s title sponsorship is valued at $4 million annually; the eight-stage race is believed to cost roughly $1 million per day to operate. AEG meets remaining costs through various partnerships, VIP packages and merchandising, although the race has not yet proved profitable.

The company’s corporate communications director Mary Klem told VeloNews via email that the company is currently discussing sponsorship with AEG.

“We are pleased with everything the Amgen Tour of California has accomplished under (Messick’s) leadership,” Klem said. “AEG, overall, has been a great partner. As we do every year following the Amgen Tour of California, we will discuss our sponsorship with AEG. Our sponsorship to date has provided excellent opportunities for Amgen to educate new audiences about our company and to spread awareness of Amgen’s Breakaway from Cancer initiative.”

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