Wednesday, April 23, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Livestrong Challenge won’t return to Davis in 2014

Livestrong1W

Darrel Blaschak of Concord, making his sixth Livestrong bike ride, hands his survivor's rose to his daughter, Jasmine, 2 1/2, at the conclusion of the June event in downtown Davis. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise file photo

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From page A1 | December 03, 2013 | 1 Comment

Thanks again, Lance Armstrong.

The Enterprise has learned that the Livestrong Challenge — a national fundraiser for cancer patient support and research into cures — will not return to Davis in 2014.

Armstrong, the world-class cyclist whose seven Tour de France victories have been stripped because of his doping, established the Livestrong Foundation after he survived testicular cancer.

Livestrong Foundation officials referred comment to the group’s media representative, Andrew Tanker, who said an announcement about Davis would be going out Tuesday. City of Davis Public Relations Manager Bob Bowen also confirmed that the bad news was coming.

For the past three summers, Davis has been the site of a two-day festival featuring staggered-distance bike rides along with music, vendor booths and Livestrong information kiosks in Central Park.

The June 23 event this year raised only $389,738, and organizers apparently thought that coming back to Davis would not pencil out in relationship to the cost of production.

In 2011, participants in the Davis bike rides raised almost $1 million. The Davis event was one of three main events for the Armstrong-inspired organization.

The following year, that fundraising number fell about 30 percent, impacted by “the economy … and the accusations against Armstrong,” one Livestrong organizer said.

Additionally, Livestrong Challenges in Austin ($635, 029) and Philadelphia ($752,100) were way off previous $1 million-plus campaigns.

Bowen quoted one Livestrong official:

“They said … Davis has provided phenomenal support and assistance in producing the Livestrong Challenge. Your town has done everything that it could have done, and more, to make the Livestrong Challenge event successful.”

But when Armstrong was stripped of most of his cycling accomplishments, fundraising for his foundation plummeted.

“The sad part is that the need for cancer research funding still remains and those in the local cancer support community have done yeoman work in supporting the Davis Livestrong Challenge,” Bowen said. “The (Lance Armstrong) ripple effect continues to affect worthy causes.”

With the Armstrong controversy has come a new fundraising game plan at the Davis-based U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame. Board President Anthony Costello announced earlier this year that Hall of Fame visitors will not see Armstrong memorabilia at the facility, after announcing last year that a guilty-as-charged Armstrong would never gain induction into the Hall.

The once-legendary competitor drew large crowds for his July 10, 2011, visit to Central Park. Armstrong — then still the darling of international cycling — led 1,400 riders on the first leg of the Livestrong Challenge.

A year earlier, Armstrong was greeted with cheers when he lined up on C Street for the rainy-morning beginning of a leg of the Amgen Tour of California.

But now, Livestrong fundraisers are being re-evaluated. Marathons on behalf on the foundation started to gain traction in Pittburgh, Pa., and New York City.

An Alcatraz Triathlon is due in San Francisco on June 1 and marathons return to Austin, Texas, and New York City.

There will be a Livestrong Cycling Tour through the Santa Ynez Valley in April and another in the Rocky Mountains near Vail, Colo., in August, but only time will tell if the Livestrong Foundation bicycle events will recover.

Overall, the Livestrong Foundation — which oversees the Challenge events — raised more than $82 million in 2012.

“Obviously, we in Davis are disappointed with the announcement,” Bowen told The Enterprise. “The Livestrong Challenge has brought bicycle riders to Davis from all over the United States, and those visitors have benefited our local economy by staying in local hotels, eating in local restaurants and purchasing supplies in local stores.

“We will actively look for other bicycle event partners and there is a possibility of once again producing a Gran Fondo to benefit the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame.”

Notes: In 2014, the Livestrong Challenge returns to Philadelphia on Aug. 17 and to Austin, Texas, on Oct. 19. It is hinted that Livestrong reps also could announce a Pacific Northwest event for this summer. …The Tour of California again misses Davis. The May 11-18 event opens in Sacramento, then Folsom hosts a day of time trials before the race heads south to its conclusion in Thousand Oaks.

— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at bgallaudet@davisenterprise.net or 530-320-4456.

Bruce Gallaudet

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Discussion | 1 comment

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  • debster822December 06, 2013 - 10:03 pm

    How sad that a terrific event that essentially has nothing to do with Lance Armstrong causes local cities to lose revenue, despite the worthiness of the cause the organization represents, even though Lance & Livestrong are no longer affiliated.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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