Tour scheduled, but cost issue still threat

THE Tour of the Great South Coast will go ahead in 2013, despite organisers’ frustrations about an unresolved police bill.

Cycling Australia (CA)  has announced the tour — which ran for the first time in 2012 — would be one of 14 legs making up the men’s 2013 National Road Series.

CA, the governing body for Australian cycling, has scheduled the event for August 14 to 18.

But an unresolved dispute between tour organisers Caribou Publications and the state government over a $49,800 bill could yet threaten the five-day showcase.

The bill was for police services, which included officers manning roads used for the nine stages during the inaugural tour.

Caribou Publications director John Craven asked Minister for Regional Cities Denis Napthine to waive the bill because of the tour’s positive impact on tourism in the region.

Dr Napthine passed on the request to Police and Emergency Services Minister Peter Ryan, but Craven remains in the dark about the matter.

Caribou will again organise the Tour of the Great South Coast in 2013, but Craven said a similar police services bill “would put the event under extreme pressure”.

“We’d have to re-examine our goals,” he said.

Craven said he was optimistic Caribou and the state government could come to a resolution.

“We’ll strive to run a terrific Tour of the Great South Coast,” he said.

“There are quite a few obstacles to clear along the way which we’re hopeful about. “The event would need the backing of municipal councils in the region, certainly some solid sponsorship support.

“And an agreement between Caribou and the state government on police fees, that’s the big one.”

Craven yesterday would not consider what would happen if the government forced him to pay the bill, saying “we’ll see what happens”.

He was upbeat about the impact the inaugural tour had on south-west Victorian communities, as was CA national sport manager Sean Muir.

“The amount of patronage the event got last year with the teams of riders — over 150 riders in its first year — was great to see,” Muir said.

“The amount of support from sponsors and local communities it went through was great. And some of the courses that were chosen by John last year created some interesting and exciting racing.”

Ryan had failed to answer questions about whether he would waive Caribou’s $49,800 police bill by The Standard’s deadline yesterday.

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