Colorado Classic Wraps Up Inaugural Event With Organizers Hopeful For A Return
Cycling fans yesterday were "out in force" for the last day of the Colorado Classic, and organizers are "cautiously optimistic" about the first-year event's future, according to a front-page piece by Nathan Van Dyne of the Colorado Springs GAZETTE. RPM Events Group Chair Ken Gart, whose organization runs the event, said, "I feel like the fundamental concept of marrying a music festival to a pro bike race ... was very successful. We heard consistently from fans and from sponsors that they were thrilled." When asked if he "could say with certainty that the event would be back next year, Gart’s response was far from a guarantee." Gart: "Our plan is to come back next year. We want to tweak things and learn from our successes and learn from our failures and come back stronger and better. Like every first-year event it certainly wasn’t perfect, but overall we were absolutely thrilled." Gart said that an estimated 30,000 "attended the Velorama Festival," which featured various music acts in conjunction with the cycling event. Each stage of the race "attracted plenty of attention, even if the crowds weren’t as large as those associated" with the Pro Challenge, which was the previous pro cycling event in Colorado. Meanwhile, Colorado Springs "won’t be part of the equation" in '18, even if the Colorado Classic "returns for a second year." City leaders last week said that next year’s focus "would be directed at the U.S. Senior Open, adding that they would like to be part of the cycling race again" in '19 (Colorado Springs GAZETTE, 8/14).
MONEY TALKS: Gart said that he "expects the Colorado Classic to lose money in its first year." VELO NEWS' Fred Dreier noted the four-day race "included stages in Colorado Springs, Breckenridge, and Denver, and featured both a four-day men’s race and a two-day women’s event." Gart said that his ownership group has the capital to "see the event through" at least '19. Gart: "It’s more about whether or not we believe in the concept going forward." When asked about an event budget, Gart said that the Colorado Classic was "closer" to the Tour of Utah, which has an annual budget of approximately $4-4.5M. Gart "hopes that revenue from the three sources -- tickets sales, sponsors, and local governments and municipalities -- eventually cover the costs" (VELONEWS.com, 8/13).
RIDERS ENJOY RACE: In Denver, John Meyer writes the Colorado Classic "brought big-time cycling back to a state that loves the sport after the demise of the Pro Challenge, and riders were enthusiastic about the new event even though it was shorter and put an emphasis on circuit races." Rider Alex Howes, who finished third, said, "It’s definitely a little different. The Colorado Classic is not exactly the Giro (d’Italia) or the Tour (de France), but I think it made it more exciting" (DENVER POST, 8/14). The VAIL DAILY writes the event "marked the return of pro cycling to the state in a format intended to broaden the sport's appeal by featuring circuits that provided repeated opportunities for fans to see the riders and racing action up close." Colorado Classic Race Dir Jim Birrell said, "The format that Ken and RPM came up with lends itself to a better spectator experience, better community experience and a better sponsor experience" (VAIL DAILY, 8/14).
TIME TO IMPROVISE: The DENVER POST's Meyer writes for "much of NBC Gold’s live streaming of the second and fourth stages, analyst Christian Vande Velde had no pictures to describe because lightning storms grounded the fixed-wing aircraft used to relay video to the studio." That "put him in the position of having to talk for hours on end with little or no information from the race." Vande Velde said, “I was just bummed not to see what’s going on -- not woe is me (as the analyst), but for the fans. I want to see this race succeed more than anybody else. I guess if we could weather that storm, we could weather any storm. I’m ready for radio." NBCSN producers were "able to put together nightly wrap-ups from video shot from cameras on motorcycles inside the race" (DENVER POST, 8/14).