News 12 at 6 o'clock, April 22, 2008
AUGUSTA, Ga.---The Tour de Georgia has been in Augusta three times before, but it's the first time the city had a finish line. Some leaders say that's a great line to cross.
Jim and Judy Lewis came all the way from Spartanburg to see their son Craig in the Tour de Georgia. They get pretty excited while they wait for him to cross the finish line.
"It's a great race, we followed it every year since it started," Jim said.
And since it started five years ago Augusta has seen plenty of starts but never a finish. And that's exactly what made Bob Giangiorgi drive a hundred miles.
"I love cycling so it'd be a lot of fun just to see all the excitement there with the finish," he said before the race.
Leaders say that little line can attract a lot more people.
"The last ten miles of the race, this is actually the most dramatic part of the event," said event manager Randy DuTeau of the Greater Augusta Sports Council.
He says the race is a great way of putting Augusta on the map, and not just in the U.S. Many cyclists use this race as training for the Tour de France.
"This is a really choice opportunity for the city of Augusta because there's actually so much international attention paid to this race," said DuTeau.
And people aren't just paying attention; they're paying out of their wallets.
Since 2003, spectators have generated about $148 million across the state.
"It's pretty exciting to see these cyclists as well. I mean these are the world's best and they're all coming here to Georgia and Augusta," said Lieutenant Governor of Georgia Casey Cagle, who is the chairperson for the tour.
And while the Lewis' mainly came to see their son cross that finish line, all the tourists in the area add up to a first-place finish for the city.