USA Pro Cycling Challenge skipping GJ

Grand Junction has lost its bid to host a stage in the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

“We haven’t heard officially, but I’ve heard rumors we’re out,” Grand Junction committee member Scott Mercier said Thursday afternoon. “If we’re out, obviously it’s disappointing. ... We’ll try again next year.”

The course will include stops in 12 Colorado cities, including Montrose, according to a release from the Montrose Association of Commerce & Tourism.

“The host cities selected for the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge will enable us to showcase the beauty and hospitality of Colorado to a worldwide audience,” Pro Challenge CEO Shawn Hunter said in the Montrose release.

“These cities are valued partners who will work with us, hand in hand, as we continue to raise the bar for professional cycling here in America.”

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is Aug. 20-26. The official announcement of the stages was planned for Tuesday.

The inaugural race drew more than 1 million spectators and created an $83.5 million economic boost, according to analysis by race organizer Medalist Sports.

Mercier said he heard not having Colorado National Monument as part of a stage hurt Grand Junction’s bid.

Originally, the local committee hoped to recreate the “Tour of the Moon” stage over the monument that was a highlight of the Coors Classic, which ran from 1980-88.

Monument and National Park Service officials denied the request, citing a negative impact on the monument with the number of fans expected to line the race route.

Both entities added the monument is not intended to be used for commercial ventures.

Montrose will host the start of Stage 2, which will end at Mt. Crested Butte.

“On behalf of Montrose, Colorado, I want to express how excited and honored we are to be chosen as a participating community in the USA Pro (Cycling) Challenge,” Montrose Mayor Kathy Ellis said in the release.

“This is an important opportunity for our city, as well as the surrounding region, to show off our beautiful location and the hospitality of our citizens. We are looking forward to doing our part to make this a successful event and demonstrate our appreciation for selecting Montrose for the day 2 starting location.”

The first stage will begin in Durango and travel 111 miles over Lizard Head Pass into Telluride.

The third stage will be the same as the inaugural second stage, beginning in Gunnison, going over Cottonwood Pass and Independence Pass into Aspen.

The next day, the cyclists will go back over Independence Pass into Leadville and finish in Beaver Creek Village.

Cyclists will race from Breckenridge over Hoosier Pass and into Colorado Springs for the fifth stage.

Stage 6 will begin in Golden and end up in Boulder.

“I haven’t heard about Boulder, but it’s not surprising,” Mercier said. “Boulder is the cycling capital of the nation.”

The race will conclude with a time trial in Denver.


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