If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: Crested Butte was ready to roll
CRESTED BUTTE — The first time went so well, Crested Butte and Mount Crested Butte didn’t have to do much to get a finishing stage for the USA Pro Challenge again this year.
Mount Crested Butte was the finish for Stage 2 on Tuesday. It hosted the Stage 1 finish in the inaugural cycling race last year.
“In our first meeting with them (after last year’s race), they congratulated us and said don’t change anything,” Crested Butte Mountain Resort Conference service manager and Crested Butte Local Organization Committee member Seth Tucker said. “All the riders were happy, and the (USA Cycling) staff was happy.
“Everything we did this year was minor (compared to last year),” Tucker said.
American Tejay Van Garderen beat fellow American Christian Vande Velde in a sprint to the finish of the 99-mile stage. Van Garderen claimed the yellow leader’s jersey, but Vande Velde is less than a second behind. Stage 3, the Queen Stage, is today. It starts in Gunnison, goes over Cottonwood Pass and Independence Pass and ends in Aspen.
Mark and Kathy Sandstedt of Grand Junction watched the race in person for the first time. They said it was worth it.
“It’s not like sitting on the couch and watching it,” Mark said.
“It’s a five-senses kind of thing,” said Kathy, a retired teacher.
The Sandstedts stayed with Ann Hanson of Grand Junction and her husband, who own a condominium in Mount Crested Butte.
Michael Reeder, a sports medicine physician, and his wife, Terri, came up a day early and went for a ride before taking in the Stage 2 race.
“It’s like a festival,” Michael Reeder said. “If you are interested in biking, it’s a neat atmosphere.”
It’s an atmosphere Grand Junction cycling fans want to have back home.
“We would love for this to come through Grand Junction,” Terri Reeder said. “It would bring in so much money. It may be a gamble, but I think it would be a good gamble.”
It’s a gamble the Crested Butte community and Crested Butte Mountain Resort believe is worth making for the international exposure.
Crested Butte and Mount Crested Butte spent upward of $100,000 for accommodations for the event and had to spend their own money to promote their stage.
The two communities provided more than 600 rooms for lodging Monday night and Tuesday night. That was for the riders, teams, USA Cycling production crew and some media.
The Local Organizing Committee tried to raise money, but it hopes to sell enough merchandise and alcohol to at least break even.
Tucker said there were roughly 200 volunteers involved, from course marshals to traffic and spectator control.
The organizing committee spent most of its preparation efforts accommodating spectators, who numbered in the thousands, as well as increasing power for Internet usage.
They had more vendor requests this year and a request for a larger area for an alcohol permit.
“We’re leaving the festival open an extra two hours (Tuesday night),” Tucker said.
Although it’s difficult to measure the economic benefit of the event — the committee is waiting to see economic results this year to compare with last year — Tucker said Crested Butte saw an increase in interest from the public and cycling world this year.