Competing for the big race

Bicyclists begin Stage 2 of the 2012 USA Pro Challenge cycling race in August in Montrose. Grand Junction has submitted a proposal for the 2013 race, with a variety of course options offered. Race organizers usually announce their choice for host cities in December.

Grand Junction again has entered a bid to host a stage of the USA Pro Challenge cycling race.

A proposal for the 2013 race marks the second time the city has placed its hat in the ring for consideration of a stage of the statewide event.

The Pro Challenge will be in its third year when professional cyclists descend upon the state in late August. Race organizers typically release their choices for host cities in December.

Grand Junction’s proposal for 2013 offers several routes for cyclists that showcase the Grand Valley. Proposed routes have cyclists winding up Little Park Road near Colorado National Monument, passing through Palisade’s orchard country, racing along flat routes to Loma’s farmlands, climbing vigorously up the side of Grand Mesa or even a grueling ascent up the unpaved Lands End Road.

Colorado National Monument is tentatively offered in the mix, yet National Park Service officials have twice nixed approval to hold the race there.

Grand Junction would prefer to host a stage finish or be an overall start, both of which could start in downtown and feature a festival.

“I think we’ve presented some real variety for them,” said John Hopkins, a member of the local organizing committee that drafted the proposal.

Host cities are expected to chip in a number of amenities — including cash and in-kind donations for meals, lodging, law enforcement and the manpower to temporarily shut down roads and create safe routes.

In exchange, host cities benefit from media exposure to hopefully boost tourism or publicity about an area.

Grand Junction is offering 750 hotel rooms and up to 1,710 meals for cycling teams, the race’s staff members, crew members and the media. The city also will offer in-kind services for safely holding the event and start and finish areas.

Hopkins said he didn’t want to release a price tag.

However, he noted, the city,  county, airport and the Downtown Association have committed funds if the city’s chosen as a host. If that happens, members of the local organizing committee will launch a fund-raising campaign and seek volunteers to help coordinate the event.

“We’re very hopeful,” Hopkins said of Grand Junction’s proposal being accepted. “We’ve had a lot of conversations with Pro Challenge as well as (race promoter) Medalist Sports. I think we have a very good relationship.”


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