Will Vail see the 2019 return of the Colorado Classic bicycle races? | VailDaily.com

Will Vail see the 2019 return of the Colorado Classic bicycle races?

The women's Colorado Classic peloton crosses the start gate for the final lap of Stage 1 on Thursday, Aug. 16, in Vail. A final decision hasn't yet been made about a 2019 return of the races. If the event returns, there will be changes in race courses, marketing and parking.
Rachel Zimmerman | Special to the Daily

Suggested changes

If the Colorado Classic pro cycling events return to Vail in 2019, there are several proposed changes, including:

• A smaller footprint for the circuit race.

• Better marketing.

• Improving access to town during the events.

• Keeping the Lionshead and Vail Village parking structures open during race days.

Source: Town of Vail

VAIL — We won’t know until early December if the Colorado Classic cycle races will return in 2019. If it does, town officials want to make some changes.

The Vail Valley Foundation was the local event coordinator for the 2018 Colorado Classic. After months of planning, town officials and business owners said the two days of racing didn’t bring the expected crowds.

At the Vail Town Council’s evening meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 20, town officials provided a look into what changes they’d like to see if the races return next year. It’s a 14-item list, but town event coordinator Ernest Saeger told council members the list is topped by a couple of items.

• The race needs a smaller footprint. The 2018 circuit race closed roads between the Vail Golf Club and Cascade Village. Saeger said town and foundation officials shrunk the course as much as possible for an internationally sanctioned circuit race. That course will have to shrink more.

• Saeger said if the Colorado Classic returns, town officials want to keep the Vail Village and Lionshead Village parking structures open. This year, people couldn’t enter or leave the structures from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Town officials also mentioned maintaining access to Vail Health Hospital.

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• If the race returns, Saeger said the town wants a better marketing plan. The idea is to draw a combination of locals and visitors. The goal, he said is to make the classic “a big, signature event.”

• Information about access to town will have to improve. In the days leading up to the 2018 event, there was plenty of advertising urging people to not drive into town.

“We got the word out that there were going to be traffic impacts,” Saeger said. In the future, people need to understand those traffic impacts aren’t as serious as first expected.

Vail Valley Foundation President and CEO Mike Imhof told council members that the foundation is in discussions with RPM Events Group, the Colorado Classic’s promoter. Those discussions should reveal by Sunday, Dec. 2, whether the races will return to Vail.

Imhof said that it will be hard to have a shorter circuit sanctioned by international cycling organizations. That means the street race may have to become a criterium-style race. One criterium, or two, could keep the energy associated with racing in the streets, without affecting so much of the town.

While the races weren’t as well-attended as hoped, Imhof noted there was a lot of value in TV and streaming broadcasts of the events.

There seemed to be council support for the Colorado Classic’s return, with some changes.

While Mayor Dave Chapin acknowledged that the event is in “a holding pattern” at the moment, council member Kevin Foley said “I hope we see it back next year.”

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at smiller@vaildaily.com and 970-748-2930.

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