Colorado Classic hopeful for competition in August |

Colorado Classic hopeful for competition in August

Pending approval, cycling event through Avon would ‘just be about racing’

The peloton speeds through the roundabouts in Avon at the 2019 Colorado Classic race.
Chris Dillmann |

While no public decisions have been made, Colorado Classic organizers are hopeful for not only a return to competition in August, but a similar venue in Avon.

The Avon stage of the women’s professional cycling race was favored by organizers in 2019 for its spectacular racing, and in looking forward to 2020, organizers were also excited about the town’s location within the rest of the multi-stage race.

When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down events across the globe, organizers hesitated to pull the plug on the Colorado Classic, deciding on a wait-and-see approach.

“We held off and are still holding strong that the event will happen,” Colorado Classic COO Lucy Diaz said on Wednesday. “That’s mainly because we believe that the state and the community and the industry, we need something to look forward to.”

The event would require approvals from state and county health officials, but organizers are working with those agencies and are confident the event can still take place while meeting all restrictions. Officials in Eagle County and Pitkin County have welcomed the idea of a “made for TV model,” as described by race officials, which would allow racing to commence while limiting the big event atmosphere that goes with it.

“The Colorado Classic is working diligently within the public health orders to have this race,” Rose Abello, the tourism director at Snowmass Tourism said in a release. “We are looking forward to welcoming the best female riders from all over the world to Snowmass and look forward to cheering for them via live stream just as enthusiastically as we would have in person at the finish line.”

Road blocks

In Avon, organizers would like to stick to the same course they used last year, depending on the comfort level of local authorities with that course. The course takes riders along West Beaver Creek Boulevard, across the Eagle River to the intersection with Highway 6, where they turn left and follow the highway to Post Boulevard. Once on Post Boulevard they cross the Eagle River again before reconnecting with Beaver Creek Boulevard by turning left at East Beaver Creek Boulevard.

Organizers would like to see a similar course in Avon at the 2020 Colorado Classic, pending approvals by state and county health departments.

Avon Police Chief Greg Daly said they were able to pull off such an immense road closure effort thanks to a “deep level of interagency cooperation” with other safety officers.

“We had to rely on our partners to be able to shut it down safely,” Daly said. “We had the Colorado State Patrol and the Colorado Rangers assisting us … also tremendous partnership with Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch.”

Daly said while the event required a lot of planning and coordination, he perceived a high level of enthusiasm for the event itself.

“Everybody had the same approach — that it’s great to have an all-female peloton,” he said.

Daly said as the father of a young daughter, “I was pretty proud, from our perspective, that Avon was able to participate in an event like that.”

Still a spectacular

Along with the inspiration that comes from being the only women’s standalone pro road race in the Western Hemisphere, the Colorado Classic provides a big prize purse — last year’s winner received $75,000.

But the race also became a big platform in its first year as a female-only event. Race organizers used something they described as “bonded cellular technology” to provide a more cost-efficient method of steaming and were able to offer the live coverage of the event for free to people in 144 countries. All in all the broadcast received about 350,000 views.

Diaz said that fact was on organizers’ minds as they hesitated to pull the plug on this year’s event.

With the new streaming technology in place, Diaz said there’s an opportunity to allow their athletes the opportunity to deliver on sponsor commitments related to exposure, while still having a race that could meet local pandemic restrictions.

“From our point of view, it’s the right thing to do,” Diaz said. “To move forward.”

Avon events organizer Danita Dempsey said the “made for TV model” could work in Avon. The town of Avon, in February, contributed $37,000 to the event.

Assuming it happens, “You won’t see the VIP area along the start/finish, you won’t see the beer garden or festival atmosphere with sponsor partners on site, it will really just be about racing,” Dempsey said.

And for a stage that was particularly exciting last year, with daring moves being made and ultimately a surprise winner, Dempsey said they would hate to discourage spectating among small groups.

“There will certainly be areas to watch,” Dempsey said. “As long as we all follow current public health orders with number of people.”

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