Cayman scores a sports tourism coup

Cayman has scored a major sports tourism
coup with the news that one of the world’s top cycling teams will host its
first get-together for the 2011 season in Grand Cayman.

The team, currently known as
Garmin-Transitions, is one of the top professional cycling teams in the world
and will be the home of newly crowned world champion and former Tour de France
points jersey champion Thor Hushovd for the 2011 season. It was announced
earlier this year that Hushovd’s current team, Cervelo Test Team, would cease
to exist at the end of the 2010 season and merge with Garmin-Transitions to
create a new team, provisionally referred to as Garmin-Cervelo. Mr. Hushovd
announced during an interview that the first get- together for the new team
would take place in the Cayman Islands next month.

The staging of the event has great
sports tourism implications for the Cayman Islands, as professional cycling
teams like Garmin-Transitions consist of up to 30 cyclists as well as many
support staff.

“It’s a great thing that one of the
world’s top cycling teams are bringing people from all around the world to
Cayman. They could have held this camp anywhere, but they chose Cayman,” said
Tom McCallum, the local organiser of the event.

Mr. McCallum, a well-known leading light
in local tourism circles, became involved in cycling recently and immediately
spotted the sports tourism potential.

A number of riders from the
Garmin-Transitions team, including Christian Vande Velde, fourth place finisher
in the 2008 Tour de France, and Pete Stetina, have visited Cayman before for
events organised by the Cayman Islands Cycling Association, and many of them
have maintained friendships with members of the local cycling community.

“Pete came down to ride the Reefathlon
last year, and after that I asked Pete about bringing some more team cyclists
down to promote cycling. He suggested we could always try to organise a
training camp in Cayman,” said Mr. McCallum.

When the news broke of the merger
between Garmin-Transitions and the Cervelo Test Team, it did not take long for
Jonathan Vaughters, the sporting director for the Garmin-Transitions team, to
pick his spot for the training camp.

“When the team merger was announced, literally
the next day I received a Twitter message from Jonathan Vaughters asking
whether we could pull this off,” said Mr. McCallum.

This left Mr. McCallum with very little
time to put the event together.

“We managed to get Team Cayman together
in just a week, with support from the Department of Tourism, local industry
partners and the Cayman Islands Cycling Association,” said Mr. McCallum.

Mr. Vaughters was quite excited about
the prospect of the first team training camp being hosted in Cayman,

“Some of our riders have vacationed and
taken part in rides in Cayman in the past and spoken enthusiastically of their
experiences,” said Mr. Vaughters.

“We felt that Cayman presented an
excellent choice of location to bring our team from around the world to meet up
and get to know each other better, on and off the bike, before the start of the
2011 season.”

The core of the Garmin-Transitions team
comes from the United States, traditionally a very important market for the
Cayman Islands. However, the team has a distinctly international flavour and
includes cyclists from countries including the United Kingdom, Australia,
Canada, Norway and Germany.

As part of the team merger, the new
squad will be riding Cervelo bicycles in the 2011 season, and members will
receive their new bicycles at the Cayman camp. This means that the team will
ship bicycles for all the cyclists to Cayman, as well as bring their team
mechanics to do the bike fitting and assembly for team members.

The training camp will start on 28
November, with public events planned for 2 December, including a ride and race
with the members of the team, as well as a meet-and-greet session and a charity
auction. The auction will include a selection of unique team gear and
memorabilia donated by the team.

The event is also set to draw extensive
media coverage, with select members of the international media and well-known
cycling publications expected to attend.

For more information, visit
caymancycling.com

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1 COMMENT

  1. Sport Tourism fantastic,congratulations Tom McCallum and all parties involved, for organizing this very positive event.
    giuseppe gatta

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