Editorial: Pro Challenge won’t be the same this year
It came as no surprise that race organizers don’t plan to include Independence Pass as part of the course for the USA Pro Challenge in August, but it is disappointing nonetheless.
On Tuesday, the first round of logistical discussions held between Aspen and Pitkin County elected officials revealed that neither Independence Pass nor the Maroon Bells are being considered for the cycling race, which has been growing in popularity since its debut in 2011.
While it’s a shame that two of the Aspen area’s most visited and scenic locations likely won’t be part of the Pro Challenge — though the course planning is still in the conceptual stages — it’s also understandable.
The potential environmental impacts by starting a stage at the Maroon Bells are legitimate, and part of that area’s charm is that it is traditionally off-limits to major productions like a world-class bicycle race.
But the absence of Independence Pass, a spectator favorite in the three previous Pro Challenges, is more difficult to accept.
We understand race officials’ concerns about having cyclists take the grueling ride up Independence Pass and Cottonwood Pass to Crested Butte the day before the first mountaintop finish in the race’s history — Stage 3 will have riders start in Gunnison and finish at the base of Monarch Mountain ski area, at an elevation of 10,790 feet.
Even so, if the Pro Challenge passes on the pass, as it appears poised to do, the race just won’t seem the same, at least from an Aspen point-of-view. It’s like the Tour de France without the Alpe d’Huez. It’s still a classic race but missing a little luster.
Saying that, we expect Aspen cycling fans will make the most of the Pro Challenge’s two days here Aug. 18 and 19. While the courses will be different, one of Aspen’s biggest parties of the year must go on.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.
User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
With respect to the title “The Lungs of the Earth,” It’s not looking so good for the Amazon Rainforest this year. Last year there was devastating damage done to the Amazon due to many large…