Props to Aspen | AspenTimes.com

Props to Aspen

Dear Editor:

After reading last week in the Denver and local papers about the fact that Aspen has been awarded both a finish and a start (two stages!) for next year’s Pro Cycling Challenge, I would like to take a moment and congratulate the city of Aspen and the entire community for this awesome accomplishment as last year’s inaugural event was an overwhelming success by all accounts.

It seemed to me (Joe Public, which is most important!) that the city and the community pulled together to welcome the racers, staff and spectators, the likes of which this town hasn’t seen in decades. The excitement created by last year’s event was talked about for months. And in this town, that’s not an easy feat.

The crowds and the chaos on Independence Pass looked like they were on the Alpe d’Huez, and with the thousands of fans and their costumes and the names of great riders painted on the pavement, Aspen was showing the world what a true cycling town we are.

I hope the community, including the businesses and restaurants, realizes what an amazing opportunity this event is, not only to grow our visitor base during this slow week in late August but to continue to brand Aspen to the international community and to show the racers and race organizers that they should always include Aspen. With the world stage on which this event is viewed, each year will create a positive effect for years to come.

I did hear a couple of negative comments regarding last year’s inaugural event, and so I believe there may be a few misconceptions regarding last year’s event that I would like to perhaps clear up:

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All of the teams and many of the accompanying entourage (hundreds), and many spectators, spent the night in Aspen last year, and with us having two stages next summer, thousands more should be staying the night in town. (By the way, I believe that the teams’ staying here, and thus eating here, is a requirement of the race organizers and was made possible by the hundreds of rooms that were donated, and last year, the buses were parked out of town, and therefore it might have appeared that they left town.)

I also heard a couple of grumblings regarding the route and the Main Street finish, so to clarify (and this is just my understanding), the route is mandated by the requirements of the UCI racing guidelines, and there are very strict width and length requirements that only Main Street can accommodate, so as long as we want an in-town finish, Main Street is it.

While I am sure (as with any first-time event) that the city learned some valuable lessons that it will surely apply to this year’s event (route crossing, road-closure messaging, etc.), I hope we will see more of us pulling together to make the Aspen stage the only stage that is talked about.

After all, we are Aspen.

John Olson

Aspen