BEAVER CREEK, Colorado - Beaver Creek was still buzzing about the Birds of Prey when word came that the next set of elite international athletes will roll through next summer.
Beaver Creek will be the finish for Stage 4 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
Tim Baker, executive director of the Beaver Creek Resort Co., was still flying the Birds of Prey when he found out.
"This has been quite a week, and it just keeps getting better," Baker said. "We're beyond excited. It's an opportunity to once again show the world what Beaver Creek has to offer."
Race organizers let it be known that they were looking for a mountaintop finish opportunity. Beaver Creek happens to provide one, Baker said, along with lodging and hospitality.
"We put our best foot forward, and they liked the shoe we were wearing," Baker said.
They're already talking with Avon about events to build around the Cycling Challenge. The Gran Fondo is high on the list, an Italian event along the same lines as Beaver Creek's Tough Mudder.
Beaver Creek becomes one of seven host cities to emerge from a field of nearly 40 cities across the state vying for a stage. Selection criteria for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge included city support, lodging, volunteer recruitment, marketing and local tourism, as well as an ability to host world-class athletes and promote Colorado. The USA Pro Cycling Challenge drew more than 1 million spectators during last year's initial run, race organizers say.
The Vail Valley Foundation is heading the local organizing committee.
"The Beaver Creek finish will be fantastic, and as a community, we're thrilled to be selected," says Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation. "We are, of course, sad to see the Vail time trial go away, but excited the Vail Valley will be able host professional cycling here for a second year in a row.
Vail's time trial moves to Denver, the final day of racing. Last year's Vail time trial victory sealed the victory for 2011 champion Levi Leipheimer.
Vail invested heavily in last year's inaugural race. That won't happen this year, said Vail Mayor Andy Daly.
"If the event's not coming to Vail, it goes without saying that we won't be giving them any money," Daly said. "It's a real disappointment, especially when you see how the crowd had the opportunity to interact with the athletes and suppliers."
The event was an economic shot in the arm for summer Vail, Daly said.
"We had people staying in Vail for two or three days, which is what we hoped they'd do. They watched the Vail time trial, then headed down to Avon the next morning for the start of that stage," Daly said.
"The host cities selected for the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge will enable us to showcase the beauty and hospitality of Colorado to a worldwide audience," said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge. "These cities are valued partners who will work with us, hand in hand, as we continue to raise the bar for professional cycling here in America."
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or email@example.com.