Signs suggest Aspen landing stage in new pro cycling race
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – It appears Aspen has landed a stage in a new pro bicycle race, although official word won’t be released until Thursday.
The organizers of the Quiznos Pro Challenge are holding a press conference in Denver on Thursday to announce the route for the inaugural international bicycle race. They will disclose the stages, host cities and race format.
Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland has lobbied hard to land a stage. He said he couldn’t discuss Thursday’s announcement, but he confirmed he was invited by race organizers to attend the press conference. It seems unlikely he was invited to be told that Aspen lost out.
The race will be held Aug. 22-28. Cycling legend Lance Armstrong, a part-time Aspen resident, was instrumental in creating the new race. Organizers invited Aspen to submit a bid.
In an interview in September, Ireland said tourism and government officials pieced together a proposal designed to capture organizers’ attention. They suggested a stage could start in Gunnison, take racers over the compact but unpaved road up the west side of Cottonwood Pass, and hit the pavement on the east side of Cottonwood Pass for the descent to Buena Vista. Riders would travel up the Arkansas River Valley to Highway 82, then climb Independence Pass to set up a lightning-quick descent to the finish line in Aspen.
The racers would follow a course on downtown streets before ending on Main Street, Ireland said in the earlier interview.
The application form says host sites must provide 400 hotel rooms to racers, support staff, race officials and media. Roughly 120 top cyclists from at least 24 countries are expected to participate. Organizers estimated between 500,000 and 1 million spectators will watch the seven stages, with an undetermined number of fans following coverage online or on television.
With many lingering questions still surrounding the fate of Aspen’s historic Old Powerhouse, City Council decided during Monday’s work session to hold off on providing staff direction on moving the preservation project forward until more information can be presented.