Colorado Classic returns circuit racing to Vail’s streets, neighborhoods
What: The Colorado Classic, pro bicycle racing.
When: Aug. 16, 17.
More info: www.coloradoclassicvail.com.
VAIL — There could be a pretty big party in town Aug. 16. That’s when bicycle racing returns to the streets of Vail, including some neighborhoods.
The Colorado Classic last year signed an agreement to bring two of the event’s four stages to Vail. The final stages are in Denver.
The Vail events include a time trial up Vail Pass on Aug. 17, but the real excitement is about the Aug. 16 circuit race. That race will be roughly eight laps of 8.75 miles each. The course — all on the south side of Interstate 70 — will stretch from the start in Vail Village, west to neighborhoods, including Matterhorn and east to the Vail Golf Club. The finish line will be near Golden Peak.
Racing in the streets takes a lot of work. The Vail Town Council gave the Vail Valley Foundation — the local organizing group — the official go-ahead for the idea in December 2017. The route was officially announced in the past week.
Tom Boyd, Vail Valley Foundation director of public relations and communications, said more than a dozen town departments and other agencies and entities had to work to finalize the route.
The biggest questions regarded just how to get a pro cycling race into town neighborhoods and still allow access to emergency and other services. The route also included coordination with Vail Health Hospital to ensure access to that facility.
Still, Boyd said, there will be some delays and temporary street closures.
Those closures and delays will vary by neighborhood and, in some cases, by business, Boyd said.
Alan Hernandez of the Vail Police Department — firstname.lastname@example.org — is the point person for specific questions.
In general, though, Boyd said the circuit race fences and gates will be up from about 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 16.
To help concentrate spectators, Boyd said the foundation is working on setting up viewing areas around town, mostly in the resort areas. Those areas will have video screens for watching the entire race, as well as family and other activities to keep people in the resort areas through much of the day.
Vail Town Councilman Greg Moffet said he’s looking forward to the events, as both a fan and a councilman.
The classic events hit the third week of August, a period that’s been identified as a “need” time on the tourism calendar. With proper marketing, Moffet said the Colorado Classic could boost lodging occupancy to 80 percent or more. Summer lodging rates are still well below winter. But, Moffet said, the classic will probably be a money-maker for the town.
“If we don’t make money, we’re doing something wrong,” Moffet said.
And, while visitors will be directed toward the resort villages, Moffet said he expects to see a lot of watch parties at homes along the routes.
Moffet said he has friends who live near the route. He’s going to encourage them to come to town for the races.
“It’s going to be a big party,” he said.
Part of that is the excitement of this event. But, Moffet said, bicycle racing is a big part of Vail’s history.
Boyd noted that the Coors Classic and Red Zinger bicycle rates in the 1980s put Vail on the cycling map.
Photos of the old Coors Classic show throngs of people in Vail Village at the start/finish line.
RPM, the firm promoting the current races, “wants to see the same energy in town,” Boyd said.
The races also promise to provide more exposure to Vail on an international stage.
Boyd said the races will be shown in prime time on Eurosport 1, one of Europe’s main sports channels. Fans in the United States will be able to follow the racing on an app.
As opposed to a point-to-point race or a time trial, the Aug. 16 circuit race will have racers zipping through town several times. That promises to be exciting.
And, Moffet said, he expects to see a number of Front Range racing fans come to the mountains to catch the action.
“As a spectator, I’d drive up from Denver to watch this,” Moffet said.
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