Cycling tour courts Baltimore for '91

September 27, 1990|By Bill Glauber

Suddenly, Baltimore is the most-wanted city on the international cycling calendar.

The World Cup Cycling Tour is attempting to enter the U.S. market by launching a race in Baltimore in September 1991. Organizers of the recently disbanded Tour de Trump also are making plans to come back to Baltimore in May with a new event, the USA Tour.

Between them, the two races could bring to Baltimore the top international teams and riders, led by three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond.

The new entry into the cycling fray is the Perrier-sponsored World Cup, a one-year-old organization that has staged 12 races in its inaugural season. Serge Arsenault, who operates Sunday's tour stop in Montreal, said he plans to meet with Baltimore officials this weekend.

"Baltimore is our choice," he said. "I'm sure we'll reach an agreement with the city. It's not a question of money. The only thing I need from Baltimore is to be sure it wants to be the cycling city of America. We have to be sure about the facilities. We'll make sure that Baltimore receives the best riders in the world."

Arsenault said he wants to stage next year's race in Baltimore on Sept. 29, with subsequent races to be held one week earlier each September.

"I'm looking for a long-term commitment," he said. "We need to establish a permanent circuit."

Bill Gilmore, acting director of the Baltimore City Office of Promotion, will lead the city delegation to Montreal. There also will be representatives from the Baltimore Area Convention and Visitors Association, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the city Department of Transportation.

"The mayor is very excited about this, and we're waiting for a contract," said Clint Coleman, spokesman for Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke.

To attract the event, Baltimore will not have to pay a sponsor fee but will be required to provide police, sanitation and transportation services. The city also will promote the event.

"They need a home for this race," Gilmore said. "They came to us several months ago. They were impressed with the way the city handled other races."

Baltimore played host to the Tour de Trump the past two years. Since the withdrawal of sponsorship support from Donald J. Trump, the USA Tour race is reorganizing and plans to soon announce a new sponsor.

The USA Tour will be held in stages along the Eastern seaboard May 9-19, with Baltimore targeted for a weekend date.

"We definitely want to come back," USA Tour spokesman Steve Brunner said. "All of our conversations with the city have been very positive."

Brunner said he welcomed the entry of a second major race to Baltimore.

"It's all positive for us," he said. "Baltimore can become a centerpiece of not only national cycling, but international cycling."

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