New pro bike race attaches charity’s name to title |

New pro bike race attaches charity’s name to title

Arnie Stapleton
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER – The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is attaching a charity’s name to its title to generate mass exposure for a global poverty-fighting campaign.

The race, which will be run through the Rocky Mountains and along Colorado’s Front Range this summer, will now be known as “USA Pro Cycling Challenge for Millennium Promise.”

The sponsorship donation to Millennium Promise, an international nonprofit organization that fights extreme poverty, includes $2 million worth of advertising during the 27 hours of TV coverage on NBC, Versus and online during the inaugural Aug. 22-28 race.

Race organizers say it’s the first time a professional sporting event in the U.S. has donated the competition’s presenting sponsorship to a charitable organization.

On Friday, the international cycling competition and the charity will unveil their “Spokes of Change” campaign marketed around the race and to cycling enthusiasts. The program will seek to raise donations to equip health care workers in rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa with bicycles, cell phones, supplies, medicine and training.

Race co-owner Rick Schaden met Millennium Promise co-founder and President Jeffrey Sachs five years ago and said the charity’s global mission “is a nice fit with our global race.”

“Millennium Promise has a lot of great support, but it’s kind of a narrow base. (Fighting) extreme poverty to date has really been through estates and institutions and trust funds and things of that nature, and we really think to make a difference broad awareness is very important,” Schaden said in an interview with The Associated Press ahead of the announcement.

“And we think the race can really bring that with 20 million-plus viewers and the 1 million people on site,” Schaden said. “One of our goals is to take this entrepreneurial approach to fighting extreme poverty and really give it a face and give it awareness with American consumers and bike fans across the world.”

Schaden said the race will donate funds for the Spokes of Change program’s first 1,000 bicycles to be used by community health care workers. The bikes, which cost $80 each, allow health care workers to see four times as many patients in a day than if they were on foot.

The Colorado race was originally named the Quiznos Pro Challenge but was changed to USA Pro Cycling Challenge earlier this year, in part to allow organizers to attach a charity’s name as the presenting sponsor. Quiznos remains a founding sponsor.

“Our goal is to build a permanent world sporting property based in Colorado and really standing for the U.S., and we felt to start with a specific brand in the name could be limiting,” said Schaden, who founded Quiznos and remains a shareholder. “We knew we were going to want to be innovative in what we did with the race, because it is a sporting event, not a corporation.”

The race will feature 128 elite pro cyclists three weeks after the Tour de France. They’ll race across nearly 600 miles over seven days through picturesque mountain cities such as Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge and Steamboat Springs. On the race’s third day, they’ll reach altitudes of more than 12,000 feet over two different peaks, something that required approval from the International Cycling Union.

“It’s the hardest race on the UCI circuit, and we’ve never seen pros race at these elevation levels and these kinds of climbs,” Schaden said. “There’s two climbs on this race that we feel we’re going to see some real drama and we’ll see who can really make these climbs for that many miles. Certainly, great athletes can do it, but there may be ones that don’t. That’s why we call it the challenge.”

Ten teams have already committed and race co-chairman Shawn Hunter, who is negotiating international television rights after securing a domestic TV deal, said the remaining six teams will be announced soon.

“We want to watch the early calendar to see who’s competing on the highest level. So, those last six invitations we want to make sure the field is the best,” Hunter said.

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