Friday, November 18, 2011

Breckenridge bids for weekend finish in 2012 Pro Cycling Challenge

Stellar feedback from locals and businesses on the USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 5 finish this year has the Town of Breckenridge hankering for the opportunity to host another weekend finish for the 2012 race.

The town touted its lodging base, central location and success putting on this year's finish and other big events to tempt the tour of Colorado back to Breckenridge. Town officials have again committed up to $150,000 to a race finish for 2012.

The town's bid requested a Friday or Saturday night finish.

The winning host cities and towns for the 2012 Pro Cycling Challenge were expected to be named Thursday, but the announcement was pushed back a couple of weeks, as race organizers continue to consider the choices.

“We had an overwhelming response from so many cities,” race spokeswoman Stacie Lange said. “We were quite surprised by the reaction. We just thought we would take a little more time and due diligence and really make the right decision for 2012.”

The Denver Post reported the circulation of a proposed route map, which indicated Breckenridge could one of the possible hosts for either a start or finish, and Boulder might be the site of the final finish.

Lange insisted a final course hasn't been decided yet.

Stiff competition

For Breckenridge, the competition is fierce. Even the success of last year's Saturday finish, an event that drew approximately 50,000 spectators and concluded with a concert by Big Head Todd and the Monsters, doesn't guarantee the town will be selected to host again in 2012.

“We would do, at a minimum, as much as we did last year,” Breckenridge spokeswoman Kim Dykstra DiLallo said. “However, we understand and recognize that there are a lot of communities vying for a piece of this successful event. … From a global view, you need to keep that cycling event fresh and exciting and ever-changing.”

But race organizers said having hosted a finish this year will not necessarily hurt the town's chances of being selected again, either.

“We had a great year last year,” Lange said. “We exceeded expectations on many fronts and the host cities are a big reason for our success. We're looking for unique locations in Colorado that can be a post card to the world.”

Locations that boast challenging terrain and routes that will keep the race “fresh” for the professionals and can provide “great hospitality,” will also have an edge in the selection process.

Twenty-seven cities and towns statewide are pushing to be a part of next year's race, including Winter Park and Grand Junction.

Breckenridge put on a show for the Aug. 27 Stage 5 finish, complete with an expo, a day of events and a concert following the teams' arrival and awards ceremony.

“Hearing back from the USA Pro Cycling (Challenge), they do recognize that we really went over and above the call of duty last year,” Dykstra DiLallo said. “We really made Breckenridge shine and we made the Pro Cycling Challenge shine.”

Breck attributes

The town and local organizing committee held up Breckenridge's more than 3,000 lodging units, central-state location west of Denver and multiple scenic arrival routes including a possible south-entrance that would take teams over Hoosier Pass, in its 2012 bid.

The bid was submitted with the enthusiastic backing of the town, the Summit Board of County Commissioners, the Breckenridge Lodging and Restaurant associations and the many local business owners.

Local merchants who responded to a post-race survey put out by the town were overwhelmingly supportive of the event, with the majority saying it had been good for the town and their business and many calling for the town to host another finish in the future.

“I think we should aggressively seek this event again next year and (in) years to come,” said one restaurant owner, who commented in the town's survey. “We can tweak some things to make it work better now that we know how it works.”

Survey respondents suggested shifting the finish-line location and implementing strategies such as lodging packages to help keep spectators, who last year reportedly seemed anxious to follow the race out of town, in Breckenridge for the weekend.

The race was wildly successful for Colorado as a whole, with an estimated $83.5 million economic impact statewide, according to a statement from the Pro Cycling Challenge.

Of the 1 million spectators who turned out across the state for the race in its first year, 94 percent said they planned to return next year, according to the statement.

The Denver Post contributed to the reporting of this story.

Courtesy The Summit Daily News