GJ will host para-cycling championships in April 2017
Grand Junction will be home to another prestigious cycling event.
In late April 2017, the best para-cyclists in the nation will come to the area to compete in the USA Cycling Para-cycling Road National Championships.
The event was secured through the work of the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission.
Jennifer Stoll, the commission’s executive director, said they started the process to bring the event to Grand Junction at last April’s Maverick Classic road cycling race.
Grand Junction had already been awarded the USA Cycling Collegiate National Road Championships for 2017-18, and now the para-cycling championships will also be held in conjunction with that national championships.
“Immediately after discussing the opportunity, we began speaking to our community partners to determine feasibility,” Stoll said. “We have stayed in constant communication with USA Cycling throughout the process and we made it clear to them that we wanted to add para to the lineup. We were confident we could put on a successful championship for both the collegiate and para competitors.”
Stoll said the commission is thrilled that Grand Junction will host the two events.
“To be awarded the collegiate nationals for two years is incredible, but to have para-cycling athletes in addition, athletes who competed and medaled in the Paralympic Games (in Brazil) just a few months ago, is an unbelievable opportunity for our community to continue to put itself on the map as a top destination for sports,” Stoll said.
Micah Rice, vice president of national events for USAC, said Grand Junction is a perfect location for the championships.
“The strong, welcoming cycling community in this area paired with the abundance of scenic riding will make for a fantastic USA Cycling National Championship,” she said.
Colorado Mesa University will be the host school at the collegiate road nationals, which will bring in both Division I and II cycling teams. Between 350-400 collegiate cyclists will be competing and Stoll estimates that the para-cycling nationals will draw more than 100 competitors.
The courses for both events, which include time trial, criterium and road races, have not yet been determined, Stoll said. The same courses will be utilized for both collegiate and para with possible slight modifications.
“Para is a great fit to combine with collegiate road nationals because they compete in the same events.” Stoll said. “Our community has amazing road venues that can accommodate the increase in participant numbers.”
With the nationals more than six months away, Stoll said preparation is well underway.
“We have a strong, committed group of volunteers serving on our local organizing committee for the Maverick Classic and they will take the lead on planning for the nationals,” she said. “We are already meeting on a bi-weekly basis and will ramp that schedule up at the turn of the year.”
Being awarded both the collegiate and para-cycling nationals is another example of the work being done by the sports commission.
“This award is a prime example of why the Greater Grand Junction Sports Commission was formed as a collaborative community partnership, so when opportunities like this emerge, we have the organization in place to take advantage of it,” Stoll said.
The sports commission is a collaborative effort between Colorado Mesa, the city of Grand Junction, Mesa County, the city of Fruita and the town of Palisade to promote sport tourism in the community.
The collegiate and para-cycling nationals are scheduled for April 27-30.