Stage 1 a huge success: Valley pulls out all the stops for world class cycling race

“This was off the charts…”

The number of spectators weren’t out of the park but everything else was a grand slam with this Tuesday’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge bike race. The race started in Salida and ended in Mt. Crested Butte with a loop through the town of Crested Butte. The local organizers, the racers and the national overseers all lauded the event.

 

 

“Crested Butte was unbelievable. It was a home run,” said Sean Petty, the chief operating officer of USA Cycling, the governing body for the sport in the United States. “To see this on a Tuesday afternoon and experience the finish was great for a first-year event. It felt like a stage in the Tour de France.”
“Everyone had a smile. Everyone had a blast. Everyone was screaming at the finish line. That in itself says success,” said local organizing committee co-chair Aaron Huckstep.
His counterpart, Dave Ochs, seconded the sentiment. “Hot damn. It happened and it happened well,” he said. “The production guys say we get a 99.9, and they said they never give out accolades that high.”
The third chair, Karl Trujillo, agreed. “This is great to see up here,” he said, watching a television in a tent as the race headed toward Gunnison. “It’s a great event for this valley. By the time this thing is over, I think we did the best anybody could do.”
Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s Erica Reiter said. “A lot of work went into all of this and honestly, it went smoothly. It felt like the calm before the storm and then we expected the storm was going to happen, but the storm never came.”
CBMR’s Annie Dyar added, “Everyone has a smile. This not only went great, it was awesome.”
And a lot of people made it happen. More than 200 volunteers lined the streets of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte. Gunnison County traffic control manned the roads from the foot of Monarch all the way to Riverland Subdivision. Gunnison County public works director Marlene Crosby said, “There were no problems, and everyone was impressed with the organization.”
Spectators lined the streets of Gunnison, Crested Butte and Mt. Crested as the race flew by. The sound of cowbells filled the air. A runner with an American flag ran with the leaders between Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte. Nathan Lacy paced the leaders by horseback as they passed his ranch on Highway 135, an image that had all of Mt. Crested Butte cheering when it appeared on the Jumbotron.
While it looks like several thousand people came to the valley to watch the race and YouTube videos show a racecourse lined with fans, the estimates of up to 30,000 people did not materialize.
“This was a first year event and we really didn’t know what would happen on race day,” said Huckstep, “but everything came off smooth. The racers, the promoters and the local people behind the event knocked it out of the park. Having the ancillary events downtown before the race like the townie crit worked great. It actually showed us what we needed to do when the real race came through. By the time the racers headed up to Mt. Crested Butte, everyone was charged with excitement.”
“This is the biggest thing to hit this town,” Mt. Crested Butte mayor William Buck told Huckstep after the race. “This is great. Let’s do it again.”
“I was starting to shake when I saw them coming up the road,” said Ochs. “This was my dream come true. To see a race of this caliber in my backyard is unbelievable. These are the best in the world and they dig it here.”
Petty said the overall race organizers couldn’t have asked for anything better.
“The day was great. To see this many people on a Tuesday afternoon was spectacular. This race had everything,” he said. “Levi pulling away and getting Cadel was huge. The last four kilometers was a Tour de France rematch. It really was. It was an amazing finish for a first-year event. This was off the charts. It is so good to have this kind of race in Colorado and it is world class from day one. It’s not up to me but I’d like to see it come back here.”
“When you have racers hurting, organizers totally engaged and the local guys chilling out with a beer at the finish, it says we all did a hell of a job,” summarized Huckstep.
Indeed.

 

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