The Shoalhaven L'Étape bike race is no more.
Organisers Lateral Events cancelled the November 28 race in response to Shoalhaven City Council officially discouraging the event.
At an Ordinary Meeting earlier this month, Shoalhaven councillors unanimously agreed to support councillor Greg Watson's motion to discourage the event, citing impacts on local business, residential properties and COVID-19. The motion also requested the support of Kiama MP Gareth Ward in opposing the bike race.
In a statement, Lateral Events said they have "engaged and collaborated with many businesses and residents in the area to welcome the event and, to celebrate cycling in the region".
"However, Shoalhaven City Council's withdrawal of support has left Lateral Events no other option but to cancel the event."
Race director Florent Malézieux said the decision by Shoalhaven City Council came as a surprise.
"We were led to believe that the councillors and local businesses supported the race and had embraced the benefits of staging the event, which included having up to 6,000 riders, their families and supporters stay in the region, delivering millions of dollars of direct tourism expenditure, and a year-long national TV campaign promoting the event and the region," he said.
Following news of the cancellation, Kiama MP Gareth Ward said Shoalhaven council's decision was an absolute disgrace which left him heartbroken and furious.
"We've gone from a situation where council supported an event without any consultation [to now this]," he said.
"I went away and worked with business owners, L'Étape and the state government to make this a viable event for the Shoalhaven that mitigated impacts on business and maximised economic opportunity.
"This event was a major opportunity to put a spotlight on the Shoalhaven towards the end of November as we were coming out of COVID. To be able to boost jobs, boost our economy and promote the Shoalhaven, not just to the state or the nation, but to the world."
He said he felt like sending Shoalhaven council an invoice for doing all of the consultation, for negotiating a rolling peloton to minimise road closures and for helping to get the event moved to a Sunday.
Shoalhaven mayor Amanda Findley said Lateral Events made the responsible decision by calling the cancellation early.
"There were no guarantees that this event was going ahead anyway because of COVID," she said.
"I accept that they are disappointed with Shoalhaven City Council but at the end of the day, it was a unanimous decision by the elected body to support the businesses of Kangaroo Valley who have suffered so badly over the last 18 months.
"That whole risk was not worth it."
Lateral Events will now review the location of L'Étape Australia for 2022 and beyond.