Three races disappear in less than a week. From www.cyclingnews.com today:

Tour of America cancels for 2008

It may no longer be April Fool’s day, but it would be understandable if you thought otherwise as the organizers of the first Tour of America announced on April 2 that their race for 2008 would not materialize. Dr. Frank Arokiasamy, Ph.D., president of Aqu Sports, organizers of the race, had announced previously that last Monday, March 31, would be the go/no-go decision date – and apparently the decision was to wait another year.

“After we announced the Tour of America last fall, we hit the ground running to make the event happen in 2008,” Arokiasamy said in a press statement. “Everyone we have spoken with wants to see a ‘Tour de France-style” race here in the United [sic] We want to work with USA Cycling and UCI to establish this event as a compliment to the major international races, and at the same time not conflict with established races in the United States. Overall, we want to make sure the Tour of America strengthens the sport of cycling and the race calendar. In addition, potential sponsors and route cities have expressed strong support for a fall 2009 race.”

Further down the same page:

Tour of Virginia also cancels 2008 race

Another race on the National Racing Calendar (NRC) circuit in the United States has announced a major change for 2008. The Tour of Virginia, formerly the Tour of Shenandoah, posted on its website this week that it is cancelling the 2008 event due to a lack of funding. “I’d be lying if I told you I wasn’t supremely frustrated, devoid of confidence and depressed after having this experience,” event director Matthew Butterman on the race web site regarding attempts to sign sponsors for this year’s event.

“From the start of this event, we have pushed forward under the assumption of ‘build it and they will come,’ ” the statement said. ” ‘They’ refers to private corporate and state financial support. The state has been unwilling to invest in this event… So we built it anyway with the hope that a media friendly, attention-getting event would eventually attract private support either from within our venue community network, or from the outside. This has not happened to a sustainable level despite what must be described as our best efforts as a grossly underfunded promoting organization”

And finally this news from a few days ago:

Tour de ‘Toona shrinks to one-day

The Tour de ‘Toona, held in and around Altoona, Pennsylvania, will shrink to just one day for 2008. After 20 years, the race had grown to seven days. What remains is a criterium on July 27 in downtown.

“I’m just disappointed this year we’re stepping back, but we hope next year to come back even stronger,” Race Director Larry Bilotto said to the Altoona Mirror. The organization plans to return to a full schedule in 2009.

Bilotto said the steering committee needed a break, especially after contending with lawsuits related to a former race director and a rider injured in the 2005 edition, deaths of committee members and recent sponsorship struggles. He did not elaborate on the latter.

How much of it is the economy, and how much is the current state of cycling, with all the doping scandals, lack of a “proper” big name American star cyclist to generate interest in the sport, especially with all the politicking between the UCI and race organizers in Europe throwing things into further disarray.

It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that it’s going to get worse before it gets better, as well. Soon Versus will start cutting back their Tour de France coverage to an hour or two a day (like ESPN did back in the 1990s), and then eventually down to a 1-hour special at the end of the season (like has happened with the Vuelta a España the past few years …

Thankfully, there are online sites like cyclingnews.com and VeloNews to provide coverage. Other video-based sites are popping up and getting bigger as well, like WCSN.com and Cycling.TV … and those of us who are serious Euro race junkies will still be able to get our fix.