LOCAL PERSPECTIVE
Is the Pro Cycling Challenge Overhyped?  Don’t Believe It.
by Seth Cagin
Aug 10, 2012 | 1839 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Some say it’s overhyped.  Others believe the USA Pro Cycling Challenge will be huge.  The fact is, nobody really knows for certain exactly what will happen in Telluride and Montrose on Aug. 20 and Aug. 21 because we haven’t hosted the Challenge before, and it’s only in its second year of existence.  

And if the Pro Cycling Challenge is huge, we don’t really know what that means.  Ten thousand spectators in each town?  Twice that?  

My bet is on a big event with big long-term benefits.

There are some things about the Pro Cycling Challenge that we do know. We know, for example, that there will be television crews sending pictures of the Western San Juans around the world, which is an invaluable form of tourism marketing. We know there will be some number of thousands of people in the region, either participating in the event or watching it, and we know they will spend money.  We know there is a reasonable chance that the USA Pro Cycling Challenge could quickly become the second biggest bike race in the world, after the Tour de France. (Last year’s inaugural race was the biggest sports event ever staged in Colorado, according to promoters, in terms of the sheer number of spectators, and year two will be that much bigger.)

We also know that there’s no better place for a world-class bike race to be staged in Colorado than in the Western San Juans.  So maybe it will become an annual event in our region.

Especially if we host it well.

The local organizing committees for both Montrose and Telluride have worked hard to ensure that we will host it well, planning for road closures, accommodations, parking and a host of ancillary festivities.

In Telluride, where the race’s first stage finishes on Aug. 20, after starting in Durango, racers will make a loop around town before crossing the finish line in front of the San Miguel County Courthouse, heading to the west, so that the television cameras will record the finish against the iconic backdrop of Ajax.  That’s virtually guaranteed not only to be exciting to witness, but to produce irresistible photographs that will soon be transmitted around the globe.

The race resumes the morning of Aug. 21 in Montrose, starting at the Montrose Pavilion and looping around town before heading out east on Hwy. 50, bound toward Gunnison and Crested Butte, where the second stage finishes.

A complete schedule of events surrounding the race will be published in a special insert in The Watch next week. There will truly be something for everyone:  bike rides, music, food booths, games.

So why are there naysayers?  

In a tough economy, some understandably wonder if the economic benefits will reach them. And, then, it is part of the local ethos for a significant slice of our community to resist the big and the glitzy as something antithetical to everything they treasure about the Western San Juans. They moved here to get away from all that, after all.

But there are times when holding one’s enthusiasm in check is counterproductive – it’s a bummer, in fact – and this is one of those times.

The world is coming to us! How cool is that? Grab a copy of next week’s Watch, study the program, find yourself a great vantage point from where you can watch the racers fly by, and have a blast.

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