(This column was written
By Shelly Saltman
Today, the Amgen Tour of
Imagine Americans finishing 1-2 in the race designated as the world's second most important cycling event only surpassed by the more than century old "Tour de France."... And the ATOC is only in its sixth year and growing. In actuality, the third finisher was also an American, Tom Danielson, who rode for the German team Garmin- Cervelo.
It is hard to believe that 12 years ago, my son-in-law Danny and I had a vision. The vision of a road race came about as we worked with my granddaughter Sarah as she studied her fourth grade
As we read and Danny got more into it, we realized that the founding monks placed Missions, now historic, one day's horseback ride along the "Camino Real" ... Spanish for the "
Later that year, we watched Lance Armstrong win one of his seven Tour de France yellow jerseys.
The premise was solid and with the aid of my pal, David Salzman, one of the finest TV minds I have ever known, we set out to put it together. In no time it was real. We had the funding, we had an executive team in place, we hired Medalist Sports out of Atlanta to coordinate all the logistics, had the approval of United States Cycling, the governing body and had a exceptional deal with CBS TV that David had negotiated. We even found available time on the hectic world-racing calendar that did not interfere with any other sport on TV (i.e. playoffs etc;). Our publicity plan, international in scope, headed up by Internationally renowned Stuart Rowlands was unparalleled.
We were on our way to
A little down-crested, but not defeated, we heard that
Most importantly, more than just money,
The race team hired Medalist Sports, which pleased both David and myself. However, for some reason, unknown to us,
There are many things that need correcting. Although the telecasts, produced by the same team that broadcasts the Tour de France, were superb, at each stage they fell short by quite a bit of time. We were scheduled for two hour programs, but we sometimes were as short as 60 minutes with nothing prepared to fill the time. This must be addressed as we do our critiques.
Although we were on Euro-Sport and other international broadcast entities reaching over 200 million people, we did not do a good job of pre-race publicity. Yes, the roads were crowded, but they were in the hamlets and their outskirts that the race traversed. Here, there was adequate publicity and promotion. The rest of the country to a great extent was in the dark.
Overshadowing this year's event, as it did last year, were accusations of doping. In both instances, Floyd Landis and Tyler Hamilton decided to take shots at Lance Armstrong to coincide with our race.
Now, I do not know whether he doped, or not. I do know this: because of his immense popularity and personal efforts, his charitable fund, "Livestrong" had contributed countless millions to cancer research.
In fact, prior to Sunday's final stage, having lost my late wife to cancer, I stood alongside the Thousand Oaks race course and cried unashamedly, as 200 to 300 plus cancer survivors waving little pennants, some in wheelchairs, some in walkers, but all smiling preceded by 20 minutes, the bike riders. Many of them can be thankful for the work Lance has done and to some extent, owe where they are today to him and Amgen's "Breakaway for Cancer Campaign".
Based on what he has accomplished, the charges against him seem trivial. On the other hand, if he has cheated, he deserves to be punished accordingly. I, for one feel that out of spite, jealousy, or the desire to promote a book, the accusers are petty and self-serving.
All in all, everything considered it was a great seven days, (the first stage had to be aborted because of inclement weather), not only for us who were involved, but even more so for