New Colorado Classic road-cycling race rolls through Breck Aug. 11

Summit Daily staff report


Aug. 10 — Stage One: Colorado Springs (men and women)

Aug. 11 — Stage Two: Breckenridge (men)

Aug. 11 — Denver circuit race (women)

Aug. 12 — Stage Three: Denver, start and finish RiNo Art District (men)

Aug. 13 — Stage Four: Denver, start and finish RiNo Art District (men) and closing festivities

DENVER — Come August, Colorado’s newest professional bicycle race will roll through downtown Breckenridge.

On Jan. 25, event promoter RPM Events Group announced stages and preliminary plans for the inaugural Colorado Classic, a brand-new, pro-level cycling race scheduled to debut in Colorado Springs, Breckenridge and Denver this summer.

From Aug. 10-13, an international field of professional male and female cyclists will race more than 300 total miles on multiple circuits, according to the release, with start and finish lines for each stage located in the same town. Racing begins in Colorado Springs on Aug. 10 with men’s and women’s races before moving to Breckenridge on Aug. 11 for a men’s-only race. While the guys are in Breck, the women wrap up their portion of the Colorado Classic with a circuit event under the lights in Denver. The event wraps up on Aug. 12 and 13 with two men’s races, also in Denver.

“From the Red Zinger Bicycle Classic to the Coors Classic and on to the USA Pro Challenge, professional bike racing has become a part of our identity in Colorado,” said Ken Gart, chairman of RPM Events Group, the organization formed to oversee the event. “I can’t wait to once again show off this wonderful state to the world during the Colorado Classic. The Colorado Classic is being developed to appeal not just to cycling fans, but a wide array of Coloradans and visitors to the state.”

The four-day Colorado Classic format is much different from the USA Pro Challenge, the last pro-level race to visit Breck and Summit County. That event was modeled after world-class races like the Tour de France and featured seven distinct stages spread across the state, but organizers ran into sponsorship woes after the 2015 event and postponed racing indefinitely. The event is still on hold.

“I raced in Colorado in 1977 for the first time in the race known as the Red Zinger, which grew into one of the biggest bike races in the world,” said Connie Carpenter Phinney of Boulder, who won the first-ever gold medal in a women’s Olympic road race. “Now, 40 years later, I’m excited to see Colorado once again leading the way forward for men’s and women’s pro racing.”

Each day of the Colorado Classic is designed to showcase an interactive start/finish area, the release continued, and the daily routes will combine downtown circuits of each city with the beauty of Colorado’s legendary terrain and landmarks. The Denver portions of the race will feature a companion festival, with national music acts, a marketplace and much more. Details on those plans will be released in the coming weeks.

“Coloradans love pro bike racing,” said Derek Bouchard-Hall, President & CEO of USA Cycling, “and we’re extremely pleased that the Colorado Classic will continue the state’s proud tradition with both men’s and women’s events.”

The race is designated a 2.HC stage race by the sport’s governing body, Union Cycliste Internationale, meaning it’s one step below World Tour races like the Tour de France, Tour of California and now-defunct USA Pro Challenge. Organizers are expecting 18 domestic and international teams, comprised of six riders each. The women’s field is expected to draw some of the top professional cyclists in the U.S.

“We’re very excited to see professional cycling return to Denver and Colorado, and proud that our great city will play host to a lively and fun-filled event,” Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock said. “Previous major races have been great showcases for the city and state, and we have no doubt the Colorado Classic will build upon that history, delivering an epic event for everyone.”