Editor’s note: This story was updated at 4:45 p.m. Tuesday, May 21.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Steamboat Springs will be the first stop on the third annual Colorado Classic, a professional four-stage road cycling race.
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“The 2019 Colorado Classic starting in Steamboat Springs is a great fit,” Steamboat Springs Chamber CEO Kara Stoller said in a news release. “Our community lives and breathes the race mission every day.”
Originally started in 2017 as a men’s and women’s professional race, the Colorado Classic discontinued its men’s division, establishing itself as the only standalone women’s stage race in the Western Hemisphere. This is its first year as a member of the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour.
Steamboat will be the first stop of the stage race Thursday, Aug, 22, with a start and finish in town and a loop through Oak Creek. The Colorado Classic also will stop in Avon and Golden before finishing in Denver on Sunday, Aug. 25.
This is not the first time Steamboat has hosted a professional cycling race. The city hosted stages of the USA Pro Challenge in 2011, 2013 and 2015. That stage race was started by Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter and famed cyclist Lance Armstrong. The race fell through after 2015 when it couldn’t find enough sponsorships to continue.
The Pro Challenge was modeled after the Coors Classic, Colorado’s original pro cycling race from 1980 to 1988.
“The impacts of closures will be much more minimal and so will the amount of volunteer time that’s needed from an organizing standpoint as well as on the execution side,” Stoller said Tuesday. “Those requests are quite less substantial as well compared to the Pro Challenge.”
The Steamboat stage of the Colorado Classic is sponsored by VF Corp., which owns Smartwool.
Bike races of this magnitude have been costly to the city in the past, but sponsorships help minimize those costs, City Manager Gary Suiter said.
“This is exactly what we’re hoping for in a professional biking race,” Suiter said. “They have a major sponsor and are willing to pay for city services. That’s consistent with special events policy.”
Stoller echos that sentiment, saying the Chamber will assist with finding lodging for the cyclists while the city and county work on the permitting process. Volunteers will be needed only for the race day operation.
“It’s always nice to be able to host professional events,” Suiter said. “We’ve got a lot of professional-caliber athletes. It’s very consistent with our image, and we’d like to see that continue.”