EAGLE COUNTY - The Tennessee Pass "sinkhole," at 100 feet deep, means USA Pro Cycling Challenge organizers are watching the repair schedule closely so they can anticipate the fate of the Aug. 23 stage in the second-year cycling race through Colorado.
That stage is set to start in Aspen and end in Beaver Creek, with riders crossing Independence Pass, Battle Mountain and Tennessee Pass in the process. But whether U.S. Highway 24 will be open by then remains an unanswered question.
The highway has been closed since July 9, when an apparent sinkhole appeared, which CDOT later determined was collapsed soil over an abandoned railroad tunnel.
"There are no good answers right now," said Adam Lueck of the Vail Valley Foundation, the local organizer of the event.
But, Lueck added, race promoters aren't particularly worried right now, given that the race stage is still nearly six weeks out.
Depending on the state of the hole and possible repair work, racers could ride over a fixed road, a temporary patch suitable for cyclists, or organizers could reroute the stage entirely.
Organizers are discussing alternative routes for the stage, although no one's talking about what those alternatives are just yet.
"As soon as we know, we'll get the word out," Lueck said.
The Colorado Department of Transportation sent out a news release Friday evening that calls the reopening of U.S. 24 a "priority." CDOT has put the repair project out to bid and hopes to hire a contractor by Monday or Tuesday.
"At this time, the repairs are tentatively scheduled to be completed ahead of when the USA Pro Cycling Challenge plans to go through the area, but the schedule is subject to change based on weather, natural disasters and other unforeseen circumstances," the CDOT news release said.