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Brother, can you spare 1,700,000 dimes?

We’ve all seen those beat-looking guys lounging around the freewayexits, holding battered cardboard signs that read, “Will work for food,”or “Need gas money.” But how often have you seen one flourishing a placardreading, “Need $170,000 to put on national-championship bike race?”That’s what we saw posted alongside the Infobahn on March 13, as TrinitySports Group — promoter of the USCF’s 2002 Elite Road Cycling Championships,slated for July 18-21 in Nashville, Tennessee — put the event’s title andpresenting sponsorships onthe block at the Internet auction houseeBay.The minimum bid for the title

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By Patrick O’Grady

Photo: Some old grump in Westcliffe, CO.

We’ve all seen those beat-looking guys lounging around the freewayexits, holding battered cardboard signs that read, “Will work for food,”or “Need gas money.” But how often have you seen one flourishing a placardreading, “Need $170,000 to put on national-championship bike race?”That’s what we saw posted alongside the Infobahn on March 13, as TrinitySports Group — promoter of the USCF’s 2002 Elite Road Cycling Championships,slated for July 18-21 in Nashville, Tennessee — put the event’s title andpresenting sponsorships onthe block at the Internet auction houseeBay.The minimum bid for the title sponsorship — which Trinity calls “a marketing/event-productionpackage worth over one-quarter million dollars …” — is $96,000. You canget in on the bidding war for the presenting sponsorship, purportedly worth$160,000, for a mere $74K … but you’ll have to hurry, ’cause the biddingends March 15.Trinity Sports first became interested in road nationals in late 2001, after learning that USA Cycling was in search of a venue, according to team president and owner Kevin Miller. Intending to merge the championships with a smaller event already planned and funded, Trinity Sports began searching for additional sponsorship in January.

“My wife and I are marketing professionals by trade, and have learned to capitalize on ‘out-of-the-box’ ideas,” said Miller via e-mail. “She just got this creative idea to post the event on eBay. She thought it was a bit unusual, but it kept nagging her, so we just did it!”

Trinity’s eBay description notes that “exposure opportunities”for would-be sponsors will include “every major cycling print media,” including— yep, you guessed it — VeloNews magazine and www.velonews.com.Remember, you saw it here first.