Professional cyclists set to discover Cayman

Cayman will play host to one of
the world’s top cycling teams when they hold their first training camp in Grand
Cayman later this year.


Getting sporting events of international
stature to the Cayman Islands can be a challenge. Most established sporting
events are tied to a country or venue already, and attracting internationally recognised
names to a newly created event presents a big challenge. However, thanks to
some out the box thinking and strong support from the local business community,
Grand Cayman will be hosting one of the world’s top cycling teams for its first
training camp of the 2011 season, in late November.

Earlier this year Team
Garmin-Transitions announced that they would be merging with the Cervelo Test
Team, and it is this merger that drove the new team to search for the ideal
venue to build team spirit between the new team members. As a number of the
current members of Garmin-Transitions have visited Cayman in the past and
spoken highly of the Island, Team Director Jonathan Vaughters was quick to
enquire on the possibility of Cayman hosting the first team camp. 

The event will bring some of the world’s
top cyclists to Cayman, including reigning world champion Thor Hushovd,
Commonwealth Games gold medallist David Millar, and former top five finisher in
the Tour de France Christian Vande Velde.

With 30 cyclists and a large number of
support staff set to attend the camp, it will be hard to miss the cyclists.

The international nature of the team
means that cyclists will be converging on Cayman from all over the world,
including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Norway, Germany and
Australia.

“They could have gone anywhere in the
world, but they chose to come to Cayman,” says Tom McCallum, the local
organiser of the event.

This message was not lost on the local
business community, which has responded overwhelmingly to the event.

“What this really is saying is that
Cayman is a world-class destination for cyclists to visit. Having recognised
that, local businesses started calling us, saying ‘We want to be part of Team
Cayman and help show them what Cayman can do’.”

Part of the attraction of the event was
not only the international exposure it could generate for Cayman, but the
lifestyle it promotes.

“The local business community have
really stepped up to this – they want to do it to encourage more and more people
to get out, be active, be healthy and ride,” says McCallum.

“They’re more focussed on saying ‘How
can I help’ than ‘What can I get out of this’ and that’s brilliant to see. So
far some 30 businesses and organisations throughout the Cayman business community
and even internationally have already stepped up to offer their support of this
event.”

Developing the sport of cycling in
Cayman also forms an important part of event and the work of the Cayman Islands
Cycling Association. McCallum says the sponsors have also taken this message to
heart.

“Each of the sponsors get a race entry
[to race with the pros], and of course there will be limited numbers in this
race, and several of the sponsors have come forward to us and asked that the
cycling association find a young rider who would otherwise not have the
opportunity to take part, and they will donate their ride ticket to the young
cyclist,” says McCallum.

One of the Garmin-Transitions team
members, Peter Stetina, is a regular visitor to Cayman, and will be taking part
in the Reefathlon event the weekend before the team camp.

“Peter Stetina has taken a leading role
as a supporter of the Cayman Islands in pushing this with his team. He
volunteered to do as much as he can with the community and is going to work with
Barry Jones, vice president of the Cycling Association, to do school
appearances,” says McCallum.

The Ministry and Department of Tourism
became involved in the event early on as it immediately saw the potential for
promoting the Cayman Islands.

“The fact that the Cayman Islands has
been selected as the host destination for the Garmin-Transitions training camp
is a major triumph for the Islands and underscores the fact that we are
becoming recognised as an emerging destination for signature sports related
activities and international sporting events,” says Shomari Scott, acting
director of tourism.

According to Scott, the camp is also
expected to attract widespread media coverage which will not only boost the
department’s efforts to raise the profile of the Cayman Islands
internationally, but will further endorse the Cayman Islands position as a
preferred sports tourism destination.

“This will allow us to actively seek
other such opportunities in the future, which over the longer term, will
deliver repeat visitation and sustainable benefits to the Caymanian
population,” says Scott.

One of the major sponsors of the event
is Piedra Winery, owned by Grant Stein, global managing partner with Walkers.

“Cycling apparently is the new golf so a
very large number of people in the Americas and Europe have taken up the sport
and follow the activities of the top teams,” says Stein.

“To have the chance to host one of the
top teams in the world in Cayman during the off-season is a fantastic
opportunity to promote ourselves as a winter training destination and at the
same time raise our profile with the large number of cycling enthusiasts in the
western world. The press coverage of the event, both in Cayman and
internationally, should more than justify a good level of sponsorship of the
event by local businesses.”

For Stein, the sponsorship is about more
than the exposure his company can get out of it.

“I have enjoyed cycling most of my life
and by sponsoring the event in Cayman through our Spanish wine business, I hope
to encourage more people in Cayman to take up cycling for fun and fitness. Like
red wine, cycling is good for your health,” says Stein.

Tortuga Rum has also signed on to
sponsor the event, with Robert Hamaty seeing this as a perfect example of how
the private sector can help boost tourism in Cayman.

“The private sector needs to get very
involved and I think this thing that Mr. McCallum is doing is tremendous. I’ve
given him my full support, and I believe this can grow into an annual event.
These sporting events can generate free international publicity – that’s
millions and millions of dollars of exposure that we can’t buy,” says Hamaty.

The effect on the local community beyond
the media exposure is also a very important element that sets sporting events
apart from regular tourism.

“Any of the sporting events, the
athletes are at the parties with the local people, they get to know the country
and they develop a love for it and they will return. It’s a full taste of the
Cayman Islands when they have that experience where they are interacting with
the local people at these events,” says Hamaty.

Public Events

On Thursday 2 December, sponsors and
members of the public will have the opportunity to ride with the professionals.
The event will start from the Reef Resort in East End, with the race entry fee
of CI$100 including a limited edition, autographed cycling shirt, as well as
refreshments and a meet and greet with the cyclists after the ride.

On Thursday evening, there will be a
charity auction and meet and greet at Camana Bay, the proceeds of which will
benefit the Cayman Islands Cancer Society. The auction will feature unique
cycling sports memorabilia donated by the Garmin-Transitions team. Tickets for
the event will also be CI$100, with Abacus providing catering.

There are still opportunities available
for corporate support and individual patrons to become involved in the event.
For more information, contact Tom McCallum at tom@mccallumsolutions.com

cycling-hushovd-journal.gif

Hushovd is the newly crowned world champion.
Eugene Bonthuys

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