USA Pro Cycling Challenge viewing parties will give novices a chance to learn
Chris Brown admits watching professional cycling on television can be difficult.
It’s not baseball, basketball or football.
Cycling’s roots — and the general audience — are across the pond. But with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge drawing near, and what figures to be a top field of riders, the Brown Cycles owner is out to help people understand the beauty of watching cycling.
That’s why Brown, along with several other local bike shops, is hosting a tour viewing party during each stage of the Pro Cycling Challenge at a local restaurant or pub.
The Rockslide Brew Pub will host the first party Aug. 22, The Hot Tomato in Fruita on Aug. 23, Naggy McGee’s Irish Pub on Aug. 24 and 25 and The Doubletree by Hilton on Aug. 26, 27 and 28.
The parties will feature drink and appetizer specials as well as door prizes. Experienced riders will be on hand to help answer questions. For the first six stages, parties will go from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The seventh and final stage, on Aug. 28, will begin at 2 p.m.
NBC Sports will broadcast the final day and Versus will offer more than three hours of broadcasts each day.
“It helps (viewers) understand how cycling works,” Brown said. “It’s a lot different than what you think. It’s not just simply guys on bikes pedaling and the fastest guy wins.”
The inaugural event has already attracted some of the most recognized names in professional cycling.
Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, as well as Andy and Frank Schleck — who finished second and third, respectively, in this year’s Tour — will also ride.
It’s the first time the top three finishers in the Tour will compete in an American race.
Top Americans Tom Danielson and Levi Leipheimer and Italian Ivan Basso are also expected to be among the 128 riders.
The 518-mile, seven-stage Pro Cycling Challenge starts in Colorado Springs and passes through Salida, Crested Butte, Gunnison, Aspen, Vail, Avon, Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge, Golden and Denver.
“A lot of our customers are asking what stages I’m going to and they’re telling me which ones they are going to,” said Brent Steinberg, general manager of LTR Sports Bicycle Sales & Service. “There is a lot of hype here around it.”
A tight schedule and a lack of resources derailed plans for Grand Junction to be a host city for this year’s event.
The National Park Service rejected a proposal that would have seen the race lap around Rim Rock Drive and over Colorado National Monument.
Citing disruption of the park the race would cause, and saying it would create a precedent among other parks in the Park Service network, park officials all the way up to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar nixed the proposal.
With the process of bidding for a stage in 2012 already gaining steam, the tour parties are also serving as a way for people to see how beneficial a race of this caliber could be for the area.
“We’d love to see it come to Grand Junction,” said Ryan Cranston, the owner of Ruby Canyon Cycles, whose shop will sponsor one of the viewing parties.
“Our tour parties are aimed to promote awareness to this awesome event. We want to bring it to Grand Junction and particularly the route over the monument, which is world class. If that happened, the whole world’s eye would be on Grand Junction.”