After a successful inaugural year, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge will be back in 2012 for seven days of challenging cycling from August 20-26, officials announced Tuesday.
Race organizers have already begun planning for the 2012 race, and an official request for proposals for cities across Colorado to apply to be a 2012 host city will be issued at the end of the month.
Breckenridge, Copper Mountain Resort and Frisco have been specifically invited to submit proposals, said Allison Johnson, spokeswoman for the challenge.
The USA Pro Cycling Challenge considers a number of criteria when evaluating a potential host city, which at a minimum includes full city services support. The race also considers commitments in the areas of lodging, volunteer recruitment, marketing and local tourism.
In return, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge supports in-bound tourism efforts, attracting spectators from all over the world to stay, shop and dine in the host communities, according to the challenge.
In November of 2010, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge named 11 host cities for the inaugural race in August. Those cities included Colorado Springs, Salida, Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte, Gunnison, Aspen, Vail, Avon, Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge, Golden and Denver. All 11 of these cities have expressed interest in returning as a host city 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 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 request for proposals will be posted online at the end of September at www.usaprocyclingchallenge.com as well as sent directly to numerous Colorado cities that have expressed interest. Proposals are due on Oct. 31, and an announcement will be made by the end of November to name the next host cities for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
For seven consecutive days, 135 of the world's top athletes raced across 518 miles through the Colorado Rockies, reaching higher altitudes than they ever had to endure, more than two miles in elevation. The race featured the best in professional cycling, competing on a challenging course through some of America's most beautiful scenery, including cities such as Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge and Steamboat Springs.
Nearly 1 million spectators viewed the race from the roadsides along the route while more than 25 million watched the race on television in 161 countries and territories, including NBC and Versus. The USA Pro Cycling Challenge was one of the largest cycling events in United States history.
Spectators of the race saw Olympians, World Champions and the Tour de France podium finishers Cadel Evans, Andy Schleck and Frank Schleck.
On the final day, Levi Leipheimer of Team RadioShack was awarded the Quiznos Leader Jersey and crowned the first-ever champion of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in front of a crowd in downtown Denver. Elia Viviani took the Smashburger Sprint Jersey, Tejay Van Garderen the Sheets Best Young Rider Jersey, Rafael Montiel captured the Nissan King of the Mountain Jersey and the Exergy Most Aggressive Rider Jersey of the final stage went to Timmy Duggan, a part-time Summit County resident.