Pro cycling race creates excitement, logistical issues for GJ, other communities

The buzz has subsided, and now several communities on the Western Slope are brainstorming.

Memories of the Coors Classic raced through longtime community leaders’ heads when Lance Armstrong and Gov. Bill Ritter announced last week the creation of the Quiznos Pro Challenge starting next summer. The race is scheduled for Aug. 22-28, 2011.

A couple of days after the announcement, those community leaders received a 55-page bid packet, and the excitement quickly turned to a logistical mess.

“We’re evaluating it right now, what they would like a community to do and whether we would be able to host it,” Grand Junction Visitor & Convention Bureau Executive Director Debbie Kovalik said.

“We’ve been in discussion with other Colorado cities about the best way to do this successfully or whether or not communities will be able to respond to it.”

Monday, the Colorado Association of Destination Marketing Organization is having a meeting for community leaders in Denver to discuss the event.

“We’re definitely excited to learn more about the opportunity,” said Lindsey Lewis, the Glenwood Springs interim vice president of tourism and marketing. “We need to know more about the event and commitment level from tourism partners.”

Medalist Sports LLC, an international full-service sports management company putting on the event, is expecting 120 world-class athletes from 24 different countries, a 150-team support personnel, 650 staff, 150 vehicles, 400 media credentials, 4,000 volunteers and up to one million spectators for the event. Medalist Sports manages the Livestrong Challenge races, the Tour of California and the USA Cycling Professional Championships in Greenville, S.C.

The bid packets are expected to be completed and returned by Sept. 10.

That deadline has several Colorado mountain communities scrambling to put together a plan to bring the highest level of road bike racing to their community.

The problem isn’t the 120 professional cyclists, it’s accommodating everything else that comes with a race of this magnitude, from the entourage that comes with the racers to road closures and security.

“People might remember the 2002 Olympic Torch event and all the community involvement with that,” Kovalik said. “This is twice of that in terms of organization and financial commitment.

“The community would have to develop sponsors, which is what we did for the Olympic Torch run. I believe that’s what we would be looking at again.”

Kovalik estimates it could cost the city of Grand Junction more than $100,000, depending on how the community sets up and organizes the event and what stage or stages it hosts.

Gov. Ritter is seeking $300,000 from the state tourism fund to contribute to the event, Kovalik said.

One of the requests is 300 to 600 hotel rooms at no charge for the cyclists, the support personnel and staff.

“We have half of that (600),” Lewis said of Glenwood Springs. “We’re learning a little more about it and gauging the interest to see what businesses are willing to donate.”

Another problem for Grand Junction could be the late August date, which about the same time as the Tour of the Valley bicycle tour and Intermountain Auto Sales Rock Jam.

The seven-stage Tour of Colorado route will be determined after bids are accepted. It could be similar to the course of the former Coors Classic, an international stage race that ended in 1988.


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