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Finances, lawsuits trim ’08 Toona

The International Tour de Toona has been scaled down from a seven-day stage race to a one-day criterium this year, but hopes to return as multi-stage event in 2009, The Altoona Mirror reported Saturday. Race director Larry Bilotto said several issues contributed to the decision, including two ongoing lawsuits. The Altoona Bicycle Club, which runs the event, is currently involved

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The International Tour de Toona has been scaled down from a seven-day stage race to a one-day criterium this year, but hopes to return as multi-stage event in 2009, The Altoona Mirror reported Saturday.

Race director Larry Bilotto said several issues contributed to the decision, including two ongoing lawsuits. The Altoona Bicycle Club, which runs the event, is currently involved
in a lawsuit against former race director Kirk Leidy for alleged embezzlement, and another involving Sarah Scott, a category 4 rider who was left paralyzed from the waist down after a crash at the 2005 event.

“I’m just disappointed this year we’re stepping back, but we hope next year to come back even stronger,” Bilotto said.

After 20 years of organizing the race, Bilotto also said steering committee members needed a break. Recent deaths also left openings on the committee.

“[We’re] always looking for another group who wants to commit the time and effort,” he said.

The Tour de Toona was originally scheduled for July 21-27. The criterium — a 35-lap,
one-mile loop around downtown Altoona — will remain as the lone race in the traditionally seven-stage event. The race will take place on Sunday, July 27.