The Tour of Elk Grove, which brought elite cyclists to the northwest Chicago suburb of Elk Grove Village for the past eight years, may not be held again. Organizers said a scheduling conflict with the Tour of Utah prevent the Midwest event from drawing top riders in early August.
This year the Tour of Utah started August 6, two days after the three-day Tour of Elk Grove ended. That allowed racers to compete in both events. But USA Cycling and the UCI have green-lighted the addition of another stage at the Tour of Utah, so next year that race will start on a Monday instead of Tuesday.
“We know if they start Monday, it’s impossible for teams to go from Elk Grove straight to Utah to race (the next day),” Elk Grove Village Mayor Craig Johnson told Cyclingnews.com.
“Therefore, after much thought and with a heavy heart, we are left no alternative but to cease the Alexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove,” Johnson wrote in a letter also signed by Elk Grove Village trustees. “We have always promised that we will only run our cycling event at the highest level and we are greatly disappointed in having to make this decision to end the race.”
Johnson told journal-topics.com of Des Plaines, Illinois, that he is waiting for the official 2014 UCI racing calendar to be released sometime in September before abandoning all hope of a 2014 Tour of Elk Grove.
Tour of Elk Grove officials, unwilling to move the dates of their event on a very crowded summer cycling calendar, said they tried to partner with the Tour of Utah. Johnson conceded Tour of Utah organizers have long sought a change in the Tour of Elk Grove dates to allow them to add a road stage to their mountain stages.
USA Cycling officials said they suggested alternatives, including moving the Elk Grove back into June, closer to the Philadelphia Cycling Classic. “It is disappointing that the Tour of Elk Grove was unwilling to consider these alternatives,” USA Cycling said in a statement.
David Simmons, president of Friends of Cycling in Elk Grove, told The Daily Herald he was disappointed, too. “It raised the attention that was paid to cycling in the (Chicago) area and that was great. You could see guys who raced in the Tour de France racing down Elk Grove Boulevard,” he said.
The cancellation has upset many elite racers, particularly professional cycling’s elite women, according to journal-topics.com. Tour of Elk Grove’s men’s races are sanctioned by UCI while USA Cycling sanctions the Tour of Elk Grove women’s races. The Tour of Utah has no women’s events. Some pro women have called for the Tour of Elk Grove to be elevated to a UCI-sanctioned women’s race and continue with or without races for men.
Johnson rejected this suggestion, saying Elk Grove needs to be a complete top-sanctioned event with pro men and women or it would not happen at all.