That time Donald Trump started a bike race in Albany

Here's a random bit of weird local history: Back in 1989 there was a cycling race called the Tour de Trump -- named after Donald, of course -- and it started in Albany. As the clip above shows, there was even a time trial that sped past The Egg on the Empire State Plaza.

The origins of the race are bizarre. Somehow it started with Billy Packer -- yep, the cranky college basketball commentator -- hatching the plan and then pitching it to Donald Trump. And though Trump pledged to put up $750k to back the race, he later told the New York Times he didn't expect to pay any of that money because sponsorships had covered the costs -- and the extent of his contribution would be his name. [NYT]

The race drew some of the top riders of the day, including Greg LeMond who was then the only American to have won the Tour de France. The race route stretched from Albany south into the mid Atlantic states, eventually ending at Atlantic City. [Sports Illustrated]

In an interview with Dick Enberg on NBC at the New York State Capitol leading up to the start of the race, Donald Trump said he thought that, with time, the race would be "the equivalent of the Tour de France." It turned out Trump's sponsorship only extended one more year (apparently he had a bit of a money crunch), after which DuPont took up the name sponsorship. The race fizzled out in 1996. [Deadspin]

Oh, and during that interview with NBC, Dick Enberg asked Trump if he saw himself in politics in the future. Trump's answer:

I don't see myself as a politician. I think I speak my mind perhaps too bluntly. I like to tell the truth. I'm not sure a great politician can always tell the truth. I do like to tell the truth. I like to say what should be done and when it should be done. And I'm not sure a politician's allowed to do that and get elected. And that's unfortunate. It's very unfortunate for the country, I can tell you.

(Thanks, Serge!)

Comments

I love that the rename was "Tour DuPont". Because Tour de DuPont is just silly.

incidentally, Greg LeMond remains the only American to have won the Tour de France

Incorrect, JK. Lance Armstrong still won the race multiple times. He was just stripped of his titles after the fact.

this is awesome. I often think about organizing a 5-borough / Montreal bike fest cyclovia and then remember i always over commit.

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