Vail, Avon want cycling race back
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL VALLEY, Colorado – A week after the first cycling stage race in Colorado since the demise of the Coors Classic in the 1980s, people are already talking about next year’s race and which Colorado towns and cities it will cruise through.
While organizers of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge were impressed with each of the 11 towns and cities along the inaugural year’s race route, including Avon and Vail, there’s no guarantee those towns will host stages next year.
Shawn Hunter, the race’s chairman, expects all 11 towns from this year’s race, plus 8 to 10 new towns, to submit bids for the 2012 race. Hunter and the organizing committee will send out the official request for proposals around early October, and decisions should be made and announced by the end of the year, he said.
“The hardest part is choosing where to go,” Hunter said. “We can’t go back to the same places every year – we have to keep it interesting for the athletes.”
One of the goals of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge is to showcase the state of Colorado to the rest of the world, another reason why the event isn’t likely to follow the same route year after year.
That being said, there are a few towns that could enjoy the benefits of hosting stages year after year, and Vail is among them.
“It’s pretty safe to say there will be a few places that will be pretty tough to skip,” Hunter said. “Colorado Springs, Denver, and Vail is one, too.”
Like the Tour de France, Hunter imagines some of the stages of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge to become the iconic stages. The final stage and finish in downtown Denver, for example, will likely remain year after year.
“I think it’s likely that Vail will be part of the race most years,” Hunter said.
Vail Valley Foundation President Ceil Folz said the inaugural race was “spectacular on every level.” Folz said the Foundation has already “very clearly shared with (race organizers) our deep desire to host again next year.”
The Vail Valley Foundation put together the bid for both Avon and Vail last year in collaboration with the towns. There aren’t any specific requirements for how the proposals should look, but Vail Valley Foundation Operations Manager Adam Lueck said the Foundation’s proposal was very elaborate last year.
For its 2012 bid, the Foundation plans to build off the success from this year’s race, Lueck said.
“We were able to create a very compelling venue,” he said.
Lueck envisions an expanded time trial forerunner program next year, as well as an expanded citizen’s ride, the race for citizens that left Avon about an hour before the start of Stage 4.
Avon Mayor Rich Carroll said he intends for the town to work with the Foundation again this year on the 2012 bid.
“Personally, I would love to see this return to Avon and to Eagle County,” Carroll said. “Whatever form or fashion we could make that happen would be great.”
The Foundation’s proposal will have to show that the towns meet the race criteria, which includes the logistics of everything from public works to police services to traffic control and other organizational requirements.
“It’s a pretty intricate selection process,” Lueck said. “It’s not just who puts out the best proposal. There are a lot of factors that play into being a host city.”
Many cities can meet the race requirements, but those cities have to make sense from the perspective of the overall race route, Lueck said. The race has to include a certain number of sprint stages, climb stages, and of course, a time trial. All of those stages must also make sense in terms of the flow of the race throughout the state.
“The nice part with our area, whether you’re talking about Vail, Avon or Beaver Creek, is that we’re very central to the state,” Lueck said.
The Vail time trial is definitely a stage that the Foundation wants to keep. Lueck said the time trial gives Vail an extended period of interaction with spectators and the athletes.
And from a branding and marketing standpoint, the television coverage alone gives the time trial community an entire show of coverage.
“It’s a very valuable commodity to have that time trial,” Lueck said. “And this year, it was the pivotal stage in the race, the decider on who won.”
So how will the race organizers decide the 2012 host cities? They’ll do it carefully, that’s for sure.
Hunter said cities need to have the expertise to host large events.
“It’s a 518-mile rolling festival,” Hunter said. “We have to have partners in each city that are comfortable taking on that task – that’s probably the key.”
For the Vail Valley Foundation, which hosts the Birds of Prey World Cup ski race every year, the Teva Mountain Games, and past and future World Alpine Ski Championships, that part of the selection criteria is a piece of cake.
While the competition among host cities will be fierce – cities like Boulder, Telluride, Durango and Grand Junction are expected to join in on the bidding for 2012 – Lueck said the success in the valley at this year’s race should be compelling.
“We definitely feel very confident that we can put forth a very solid bid,” Lueck said. “But there’s not guarantees.”
Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.