Dertig jaar geleden ging in de VS de Tour de Trump van start.
The idea for the race was conceived by CBS Sports reporter John Tesh, who had covered the 1987 Tour de France and on his return suggested holding a race in the United States to the basketball commentator and entrepreneur Billy Packer. Packer originally planned to call the race the Tour de Jersey. He approached representatives of casinos in Atlantic City for sponsorship, and Trump offered to be the race’s primary sponsor and Packer’s business partner in the venture. It was Packer who suggested the Tour de Trump name. Speaking at the time of the start of the first Tour de Trump in May 1989, Trump himself stated that “When [the name] was initially stated, I practically fell out of my seat. I said, ‘Are you kidding? I will get killed in the media if I use that name. You absolutely have to be kidding'”. However, Trump reportedly changed his mind within 20 seconds, and was convinced by the commercial value of the name.
The total prize money on offer for the first event in 1989 was US$250,000, including $50,000 for the winner of the general classification. This, together with the race’s place in the international calendar between the Giro d’Italia and the Tour de France, made it attractive to high-profile riders and teams, but the event did not attract large crowds. Interviewed on NBC prior to the start of the 1989 race, Trump stated that “I would like to make this the equivalent of the Tour de France”. The race filled a gap left by the demise of the Coors International Bicycle Classic, which had been North America’s major stage race but which folded following its 1988 edition.
The inaugural Tour de Trump started in Albany, New York, and consisted of 10 stages, totalling 837 miles (1,347 km), taking in five Eastern states. The route took the race south from Albany to Richmond, Virginia (zie bovenstaande foto), and then across to Atlantic City, where it finished in front of Trump’s casino. Some 114 riders from eight professional and 11 amateur teams competed. The teams represented included Lotto, Panasonic, PDM, and the Soviet national squad.
The race was met by anti-Trump protests in the first-stage finishing town of New Paltz, New York, where demonstrators held placards reading “Fight Trumpism”, “Die Yuppie $cum”, “The Art of the Deal = The Rich Get Richer” and “Trump = Lord of the Flies”.
The 1989 race was won by the Norwegian rider Dag Otto Lauritzen of the American team 7-Eleven, although there was some controversy about the result as Belgian rider Eric Vanderaerden, who had won four stages and was expected to take the lead in the general classification in the final stage time trial in Atlantic City but took a wrong turn following a race motorbike.
The Soviet rider Viatcheslav Ekimov, who took part as an amateur, had won the first stage of the race (following a prologue time trial). Articles published the following year reported that Ekimov “had had the nerve to win a stage as an amateur … and some pros reportedly rewarded him by jamming a feed bag into his wheel”, and that he “threatened to win the Tour de Trump last year as an amateur before the pros banded together to eliminate any chance he had of winning”.
Nonetheless, the first edition of the race was described as “a smashing success” in Sports Illustrated, which noted: “If you could get past the name, the Tour de Trump, without losing your lunch, and if you could somehow divorce the sporting event from the excess baggage that went with it … what you had was a pretty nice bicycle race”.
Following the first event, Packer wanted to expand the race to take in more states. The 1990 race started on May 4 in Wilmington in Delaware, a state which Trump considered important for his three casinos in Atlantic City, and also visited Baltimore, after Trump agreed to local racecourse owner Joe De Francis’s condition that he moor his yacht the Trump Princess in Baltimore Harbor during the race. The race was won by Mexican rider Raúl Alcalá of the PDM-Concorde team.
After two editions, Trump withdrew his sponsorship of the race due to his business’s financial problems. According to Packer, reflecting on the event in 2016, he and Trump “parted as good business friends”, although he also explained that Trump’s personality and celebrity, as well as the scandals surrounding Trump’s marriage and business affairs, distracted from the event and annoyed European riders in the race. [Wikipedia]