Kathryn Turner
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August 27, 2012
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With USA Pro Challenge in Breckenridge, it's more about the exposure

Even if USA Pro Challenge enthusiasts didn't stay all weekend, or even all day for that matter, the event was still invaluable for the exposure it brings the area, locals say.

"Though the USA Pro Challenge is certainly a great event to showcase the state of Colorado, as well as the town of Breckenridge to a national audience, overall business levels seem to have remained pretty steady during the event weekend," said Toby Babich, president of Breckenridge Resort Managers. "With the finish last year, there seemed to be more of a situation that would encourage overnight visitation and increased exploration of the town by visitors. The start this year was very rapid, and was set up and gone within hours, as were many of the visitors."

That's not necessarily a bad thing. Immediate and direct business would be a great outcome of every Breckenridge event, but some, like the cycling challenge, exposes the town to visitors on a national and international level, Babich said. The challenge was broadcast in more than 200 countries and territories.

"This type of event will help drive visitors to our town throughout the year, and is a valuable asset in introducing people to Breckenridge," Babich said. "There is no doubt that the event will encourage visitation to Breck, even though we may not realize direct results."

Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., on Main Street in Breckenridge, had a busy lunch on Friday right after the big send-off, but was a little slow when it came time for dinner service.

"I honestly think it was business as usual," assistant manager Taryn Power said of the weekend following the event. "I think the majority of the people continued on to Colorado Springs."

The restaurant didn't see a ton of business last year for the challenge, although, "we weren't at the end line," Power said. "This year we were right there."

Carver's Ski and Snowboard Shop in Breck had a tent set up at the Riverwalk Center for the race on Friday, and had a ton of people coming in for challenge bottles and jerseys, store assistant manager David Bottomley said. The shop itself was pretty busy on Saturday, but "cleared out" on Sunday.

The crowd at the start seemed a little thinned out compared to last year's finish stage, Bottomley said - he thinks most people go to the finishes.

Crowds in mountain towns weren't as big as expected, according to an article in The Denver Post. Race officials told organizers in Durango, Crested Butte, Aspen, Beaver Creek and Breck to prepare for crowds between 10,000 to 25,000 people, but preliminary estimates put them at 5,000 to 6,000, the report said.

It's hard to tell what the turnout was, said Kim Dykstra-DiLallo, Breck spokeswoman and Pro Challenge Local Organizing Committee member. With no entrance gate, and people spread out between the start in town, Blue River and Hoosier Pass, "it's difficult for us to put a number on it," she said.

But, the town did hear from organizers that the Breckenridge start was the best one in terms of people, she said. "We're actually quite pleased with the crowds."

For the town, it's not just about that one day, or one weekend. It's the branding of Breckenridge as a biking town, and the worldwide exposure. The French media even picked up the story about the "Bikeffel Tower," Dykstra-DiLallo said.

"It's just so phenomenal to see the excitement in our community, and at this level," she said. "We really put ourselves on the map."

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The Summit Daily Updated Aug 28, 2012 09:40PM Published Aug 27, 2012 11:54PM Copyright 2012 The Summit Daily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.