CMU cycling coach says getting a stage of race in GJ would be ‘huge’

MONTROSE — Rick Crawford, Colorado Mesa University’s cycling coach, watched the start of the USA Pro Challenge’s second stage in Montrose and couldn’t help but see growth in the event, and what a stage in Grand Junction could mean to his program.

“The university needs to take a big role in attracting it and sponsoring it,” Crawford said. “Fort Lewis (College) helped get Durango a stage, and CMU is a real important part of the flavor in Grand Junction.”

Of course, a stage would not hurt his already burgeoning program.

“It would be huge,” he said.

Crawford said overall the challenge is still evolving. The inaugural 2011 USA Pro Challenge had stages that began and/or ended in Salida, Crested Butte, Vail, Avon, Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge, Gunnison, Aspen, Golden and Denver.

But the routes between such cities are just the beginning of the challenge’s possibilities in terms of degree of difficulty, Crawford said.

“We still haven’t seen the best rides, the best challenges,” Crawford said. “This year has been a lot better than last year, but there’s still better rides and harder, more challenging climbs yet to be raced.”

Crawford said he would suggest a Durango-to-Silverton stage and in Mesa County a ride up Lands End Road on Grand Mesa.

“It goes up nonstop for 15 miles,” Crawford said.

Crawford said he’s glad the race concludes on Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder, however.

He also admits planning the best stages is a balance between marketing, logistics, aesthetics and degree of difficulty.

In the end, Crawford said the stage in Montrose is simply a newborn baby waiting to turn into a giant.

“People don’t even know exactly what they’re seeing,” Crawford said, “Like, ‘What the heck is going on?’ “

Hanging at the Holiday Inn

Although some hotels in Montrose reportedly did not see a notable boost in room bookings for the one-day event, the Holiday Inn on 1391 South Townsend Ave., less than a mile from the start, was the host to many of the cyclists’ crews,  front desk agent Kylee Sauter said.

She said the majority of the hotel’s 122 rooms had been booked since early spring.

But there were no extended stays, she said.

“Everybody checked in (Monday) and checked out early this morning,” Sauter said.

Barry Bonds sighting

Barry Bonds, Major League Baseball’s career record-holder for home runs with 762, attended the second stage, making a trip from the start line into the media center, signing some autographs along the way.

He said he came just to watch the race.


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