Pro Cycling Challenge seeks 2012 bids from Winter Park, Granby | SkyHiNews.com

Pro Cycling Challenge seeks 2012 bids from Winter Park, Granby

Tonya Bina
tbina@skyhidailynews.com
Grand County, CO Colorado
A large crowd cheers home the final sprint of stage 5 in Steamboat Springs during last month's USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Byron Hetzler/Sky-Hi News
Sky-Hi News |

USA Pro Cycling Challenge has singled out the towns of Granby and Winter Park as two potential communities invited to submit proposals for hosting next year’s race.

“We’ve launched our proposal process for host cities, and both Granby and Winter Park have specifically been invited to submit a proposal,” said USA Pro Cycling Challenge spokesperson Allison McGee Johnson.

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which attracted an estimated 1 million spectators to the Colorado mountains during the seven-day challenge Aug. 22-28, will be back in 2012 from Aug. 20-26, according to statements released this week.

This year’s inaugural race, which featured Olympians, world champions and Tour de France podium winners Cadel Evans, Andy Schleck and Frand Schleck, had an estimated 25 million people watching the race on television in 161 countries and territories.

The Challenge is considered one of the largest cycling events in U.S. history.

Although the town of Kremmling was not a host city, the town was included as a location of a sprint as cyclists raced in the stage from Steamboat Springs to Breckenridge. That alone drew more than 1,000 people to the downtown streets of Kremmling to witness the action, plus people lined Highways 40 and 9 on the outskirts of town, according to Kremmling Chamber Executive Director Kacey Beres.

“It was a great thing to be able to host that race through Kremmling,” she said. “I hope next time we could actually be a host city and put them up for the night, to have a start or stop here.”

Beres said however short-lived in Kremmling, the race through town brought an economic boost to business owners. Restaurants had their share of traffic before the race came through, Beres said, and some retailers were pleased with sales to international customers.

“It’s exciting to see that caliber of racers coming through Kremmling, and to think it will put us on the map internationally,” she said.

Another bid

The Winter Park community, including Winter Park Resort, sent in a bid to be a host city last year but was not chosen, according to Winter Park-Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Catherine Ross. Colorado cities that have expressed interest in the past will likely get request for proposals sent to them as possible candidates for next year’s race, according to the statements from USA Pro Cycling.

But Granby did not send a proposal last year, yet has also been singled out, which begs the question: Could race organizers loosely be considering a route that includes Grand County in 2012?

“The 2011 host cities were our earliest and most significant supporters. We are deeply grateful for that,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. “Now our attention turns to 2012. We are proud of the postcard we have created for Colorado with this race and are excited to offer the opportunity for other cities to also be showcased to a worldwide audience.

“So while our loyalty is with the cities who stepped up as early supporters, the field is wide open for which communities might be a host city in 2012.”

The WPFV Chamber recently approved the chance to bid again, according to Ross, and the topic will be before the Winter Park Town Council on Tuesday, Sept. 20, for consideration.

“It’s not an inexpensive event,” Ross said.

Last year’s request for proposals included expenses such as in-kind public works, EMS and police coverage, trash and recycling, needed volunteers and free food and lodging rooms for hundreds of race officials. Agreeing to be a host town would jump-start a year-long project with a newly formed committee, Ross said.

But the “international exposure” as a start or finish town would make it worth it, she said. “It would be short-sighted of us not to (bid),” she said.

Meanwhile, Winter Park Resort is still in the deciding stages about whether to be part of the proposal, according to Winter Park spokesperson Mistalynn Lee, having not yet coordinated with the town and chamber.

In Granby on Thursday, neither the manager nor the chamber director had yet received an official request for proposal, nor word that the USA Cycling has expressed interest in the town.

“I would be very excited if that could happen,” said Granby Area Chamber Executive Director Sharon Brenner. “I think that would be ideal. I would love to have them here.”

But whether Granby could actually pull it off would depend on what the USA Pro Cycling Challenge required of the town, she said. Understanding that hosting the Challenge requires an investment from towns, Brenner responded: “Ride the Rockies costs money too, but look at the income it brought in.”

“Oh my God, that’s incredible,” said VJ Valente, owner of the only bicycle shop in Granby, reacting to the very possibility of Granby being considered for the Pro Cycling Challenge. Valente happened to be at the International Bicycle Show in Las Vegas.

“That’s like, holy mackerel, like winning the lottery,” he said. “Whether we can pull it off is a different story.”

In the August race, Vail and Avon were both included, towns just 15 freeway minutes from one another. Vail hosted a time trial, and Avon was a start city.

So the possibility of both Winter Park and Granby being included shouldn’t be totally ruled out, according to McGee Johnson.

All 11 of the 2010 race host cities “have expressed interest in returning as a host city in 2012,” she said, “demonstrating the positive economic impact and global exposure the USA Pro Cycling Challenge brought to communities.”

The request for proposals will be posted online at the end of September at http://www.usaprocyclingchallenge.com, as well as sent to certain interested towns, according to the press release.

“Proposals are due on Oct. 31, and announcement will be made by the end of November to name the next host cities for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.”

Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603


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