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Valley tapped to host pro cycling event next summer

USA Pro Cycling Challenge selects area as host for second consecutive year

The valley must have done something right at last year’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Crested Butte, Mt. Crested Butte and Gunnison have all three been tapped to be host cities in August 2012 for the second annual race. Professional bikers will roll through the valley Tuesday and Wednesday, August 21-22.



Four new cities were named to join the circuit, including Durango, where the race will start on Monday, August 20; Telluride, where the first stage will end; Montrose, where the second stage will begin on Tuesday, August 21 with a finish in Mt. Crested Butte; and Boulder.
Gunnison will host the start of stage three on Wednesday. The racers will end in Aspen that afternoon.
Overall, the second annual USA Pro Cycling Challenge will take place August 20-26, 2012. The race will open in Durango and finish in Denver with an individual time trial, which sends the course on a diagonal track across the state. The race organizers hope that moving the time trial to the final day will keep the general classification in suspense until the bitter end.
“We are very excited as a group to get another chance to host the race,” said Crested Butte mayor Aaron Huckstep. “Just about the whole team is back as a group. The Local Organizing Committee (LOC) feels very confident that we can improve upon last year and make it as much a success as 2011.”
Mt. Crested Butte mayor William Buck also thinks the towns and community as a whole can improve on the success of last year’s event. “Last year was a great success and we will build on that,” he said. “We in Mt. Crested Butte are more excited this time around about the Pro Challenge finishing in Mt Crested Butte because after last year we know how great this race can be. In general, 2012 will work the same with enhancements to ancillary events and certain infrastructure. It will be great.”
Erica Reiter, CBMR’s public relations manager, said the event is a huge plus for the resort and the valley. “It is great news for the valley that we, again, have the opportunity to host a finish here in Mt. Crested Butte,” she said.
“We are honored to be chosen for year two and feel that it speaks very highly of the community as a whole in how we pulled off the event last year. As a resort, we are looking forward to being involved again and bringing in bigger crowds to showcase our breathtaking views and fast racing,” Reiter says.
Gunnison mayor Jonathan Houck says getting the race back is a boon to Gunnison and the entire valley. “Gunnison is honored to be chosen again to host the start of the Queen Stage,” he said. “With a pass thru in Gunnison, finish in CB/Mt. CB and a start in Gunnison, this valley will have a great opportunity to market Gunnison and CB/Mt. CB as the destination to take in the Pro Challenge. We are excited about the opportunity to showcase Gunnison and its blend of history and character as well as its recreational and educational opportunities  that makes it a unique place to live or visit.”
The north end of the valley will again be the finish for the second stage of the race. The specific route has not yet been announced. Huckstep thinks that taking the route to bring bikers through the Black Canyon will ultimately be too long, so it is more likely to wind by Blue Mesa on Highway 50.
“Going up to Delta and Paonia and down the Black Canyon to Mt. Crested Butte would mean about 150 miles and that’s probably too much for this race,” explained Huckstep. “But nothing official about the routes is announced. We’ll know more details in the spring.”
Those details will include whether or not the popular sprint line will again be included on Elk Avenue in Crested Butte. Last August, racers sprinted to the line in front of the Brick Oven, making for an exciting segment.
The LOC will be responsible for providing more rooms in 2012. Huckstep said about 200 additional rooms are being requested by race organizers. “That will bring up the cost but CBMR is on board with helping. It could still cost us an additional $20,000 or so. Financing from the local standpoint still must be worked out but overall, there won’t be many material changes,” he said.
Being chosen as a host stage for the second year is an honor, according to Buck. “I think we were chosen in part because of the great collaboration throughout the community,” he explained. “The location of the finish in Mt. Crested Butte also provides an excellent venue for the expo, viewing of the race, and a challenging finish. It also doesn’t hurt to be centrally located in the state, as that makes us a viable stage location anytime.”
“Being in the middle of the state doesn’t hurt,” admitted Huckstep. “The route has some impact. But I think the race organizers liked what we did last August. I think our team did a very good job working with the race organizers and putting on a good finish and sprint line. They liked the crowds and the enthusiasm the valley provided. It was a lot of good energy from the community.”
CBMR’s Reiter provided the LOC with some preliminary estimates on the race exposure impact. Given the exposure the valley received from the race, she placed the marketing value for the community from the race at about $1.3 million dollars. Not bad for a normally slow Tuesday in August.
And we’ll see it again in 2012.

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