USA Pro Cycling Challenge Sees Lower Attendance, But Still A Success In Colorado
The USA Pro Challenge “didn't suffer a sophomore jinx” as the three mountaintop finishes during the Colorado-based cycling race last week “added enough strategy and majesty to stamp the state's mountainous footprint firmer on the race,” according to John Henderson of the DENVER POST. The size of the crowds “was a major point of debate, with attendance smaller at certain spots than race organizers acknowledged.” The crowd on Independence Pass “shrunk noticeably this year compared to a year ago, and crowds in Denver for the final stage Sunday were down from the inaugural event.” However, racing returned to Boulder, and Flagstaff Mountain “established itself as a symbol of American cycling.” The fans on Independence Pass “were a highlight last year with riders comparing the costumes and signs to climbs in the Tour de France.” But a “camping ban and banning cars from going up after 10 a.m. Wednesday and 8 a.m. Thursday kept the crowds low.” USA Pro Challenge CEO Shawn Hunter said, "That's one of the top 10 things to work on in 2013. We want camping to return" (DENVER POST, 8/28). In N.Y., David Williams wrote organizers “got what they had hoped for when they moved the individual time trial to the final day this year, looking to have the seven-stage, 683-mile race determined in front of the largest crowd on the last day in Denver.” Hunter said that it was “important to showcase American talent to American fans, but that he was confident that top foreign riders … would continue to be attracted to Colorado.” Hunter said, “You’ll always see us attract a big-time field. It’s become very early a race that’s relevant and a race that people want to win. We fit very nicely on the tour calendar right between the Tour and the world championships, so it’s a race that not just Americans but people from all over the world want to come and win” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/27).
NUMBERS NOT ADDING UP: In Colorado Springs, Van Dyne & Ramsey wrote "discussing -- and arguing -- about crowd estimates is one of the constant sidelights of the USA Pro Challenge.” Some say the estimates “are inflated” while some say they “are deflated.” Hunter said that estimating a crowd is “a little bit art and a little bit science." Van Dyne & Ramsey noted Hunter Saturday “sat in a car for the entire 102.8-mile route” and saw spectators “along the entire route” (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 8/26). In Boulder, Amy Bounds notes city officials "think only about a third of the spectators expected to converge on Flagstaff Mountain for the finish of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge's sixth stage actually showed up.” While organizers “were instructed to limit the number of people on Flagstaff to 30,000, city officials estimate about 10,000 people gathered” (Boulder DAILY CAMERA, 8/28).
ENTHUSIASM REIGNS: A DENVER POST editorial is written under the header, “Second-Year Success For USA Pro Challenge.” The editorial states, “Certainly there are logistical lessons to be learned from this year's effort. We wonder if there is a way to accommodate camping on Independence Pass or larger crowds on Flagstaff, for example. But those are minor points that belie the momentum the race has built in just two years” (DENVER POST, 8/28). In Colorado, Kathryn Turner writes even if USA Pro Challenge enthusiasts “didn't stay all weekend, or even all day for that matter, the event was still invaluable for the exposure it brings the area.” Breckenridge Resort Managers President Toby Babich said that the race “exposes the town to visitors on a national and international level” (SUMMIT DAILY NEWS, 8/28).
LOOKING TO NEXT YEAR: In Colorado, David Young wrote in the wake of the '12 race, Northern Colorado cities are “preparing to ramp up [a] fundraising effort to fund a 2013 bid.” NoCo Cycling Funds has “raised $235,000 out of $500,000 to date for a bid.” Bid committee member Jay Hardy said money pledged by Ft. Collins, Loveland and Estes Park "is contingent on respective city councils approval of funds marked for the race.” The communities are “working together creating a bid that features the region as a race destination” (COLORADOAN.com, 8/27).