By Bryan Jew VeloNews Senior Writer
In 2000, the Tour LeFleur reached the high point of its seven-year existence when the Jackson, Mississippi, event played host to the U.S. Olympic Trials. Last week, the organizing committee announced that the race would not be back in 2001.
“After the phenomenal year we had, hosting the Time Trial Championship and the U.S. Olympic Trials, we feel like we set a standard that we want to maintain,” said Bo Bourne, Tour LeFleur creator, in a press release issued last Friday. “We added live television and the Jumbotron at the start/finish area. We also had other amenities and a level of competition that kept the crowds on the course despite some pretty bad weather. The committee agreed early on that if we couldn’t keep the event at this very successful level, we should take a step back, re-evaluate the future of the event, and try to start fresh in 2002.”
The race began as a criterium in downtown Jackson in 1994 and became a two-day event the following year. In 1998 the Tour LeFleur gained a spot on the Saturn USPRO Cycling Tour, and in 1999 it became a UCI event. In 2000, LeFleur hosted both the Olympic trials and the U.S. national time trial championship.
For seven years, the race was also a fundraiser for the Blair E. Batson Hospital for Children at the University of Mississippi Medical Center and raised more than $180,000 during that time.
In a phone conversation with VeloNews, Bourne expressed hope that the event could return in 2002. “Our full intention is to expect it to come back,” he said. He acknowledged, however, that it could be difficult to return after a one-year hiatus.
“I hope we were good for the sport,” said Bourne. “And I hope we can be good for the sport in the future.”