Aspen takes up bid for bike race | AspenTimes.com

Aspen takes up bid for bike race

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – City event planners will ask the Aspen City Council Tuesday for the green light to submit a bid for the 2013 USA Pro Challenge, the seven-stage Colorado bike race formerly known as the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

The request is planned for Tuesday’s council work session, which begins at 4:30 p.m. at Aspen City Hall, 130 S. Galena St. However, council members have been known to start their work sessions, which are informal gatherings, earlier or later than the set starting time.

Aspen has played a major role in the race’s first two years. In 2011, the event’s inaugural year, the city hosted the race’s “Queen Stage” from Gunnison to Aspen. Following that perceived success, the city lobbied race officials to bring the race route back to Aspen. Unlike any of the other host communities chosen in 2012, Aspen was awarded both a stage finish and a start, which were held Aug. 22 and 23.

“Each host city receives significant exposure in all marketing and promotions of the race, providing the host community the opportunity to showcase and promote their destination to visitors both domestically and abroad,” Special Events Director Nancy Lesley wrote in a recent memorandum to the council and Mayor Mick Ireland, who is a staunch supporter of the event.

For the second straight year, the city distributed a post-race survey through the Aspen Chamber Resort Association to gauge the business community’s feelings about the event. Eighty-two percent of 115 respondents indicated that they would like to see the race return to Aspen for another year.

However, when asked about the financial impact of race day compared with race day last year, 22.5 percent of respondents said sales were better, 33.3 percent said that business fell, and 44.1 percent cited no change.

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In the “comments” section of the survey, respondents were forthright with their opinions about the race and its effect on local sales. Here is a smattering of comments, pro and con, from those who participated in the survey:

• “Allow camping on Independence Pass. I truly believe that this brings people to town and shows us that Aspen embraces the spirit of tolerance, trust and adventure.”

• “People should be encouraged to be on Independence Pass.”

• “All of downtown was closed to parking. It made it almost impossible for anyone to come to town that was not here for the race.”

• “While I think the race is a cool event that brings exposure to Aspen, the economic benefits are not very apparent to retailers.”

• “Nobody wants to come to town to shop. They want to come watch the bike race and the people who would be shopping avoid town.”

• “You people stink.”

asalvail@aspentimes.com