Board hopeful bike race bid will be chosen

Members of a local committee have “a fair amount of optimism” they’ll be able to bring a stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge to the Grand Valley in 2012, committee member John Hopkins told Mesa County commissioners Thursday.

Hopkins and fellow committee member and Colorado Mesa University President Tim Foster met with commissioners for about 30 minutes Thursday afternoon to update them about the committee’s bid to bring a portion of the August professional bicycle race to the area. They also requested financial assistance from the county as part of that effort.

The 27 Colorado communities that submitted proposals to be on the race route expected to hear a decision this week, but race organizers now say it will be another two weeks or so before they make their announcement because of the quality of the proposals.

Hopkins said the local committee recently gave Jim Birrell, managing partner of Medalist Sports, the Georgia-based company managing the race, a tour of the possible route through Mesa County, and Birrell was impressed.

“I think it was helpful,” Hopkins said.

The local committee’s proposal includes a number of route alternatives, including a traverse from Gateway, a tour through Palisade’s orchards or Fruita’s farms, a climb up Little Park Road or Lands End Road or some combination of those options.

Hopkins said the committee estimates hosting a stage would cost $300,000. The committee has cash and in-kind commitments of $100,000 from the city of Grand Junction, $45,000 from the Grand Junction Visitor and Convention Bureau, $10,000 from The Colorado Trust and $5,000 from Grand Junction Regional Airport. He said the committee will seek additional contributions from the business community.

Commissioners were asked to pitch in $100,000, but they gave no immediate indication as to whether they would grant a part or all of that request.

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