USA Pro Challenge organizers chase mountaintop finish
Ryan Summerlin March 5, 2013
For the last two years, when teams competing in the USA Pro Challenge bike race rolled through Breckenridge, the event has been fast paced and front and center.
But this year race organizers are reportedly after a different approach, asking the town to consider a mountaintop finish that would mean an uphill battle to the Stage 2 win.
Breckenridge will also host the Stage 3 start the following morning.
But race organizers asked to place the finish line at the base of Peak 8, a plan that didn’t thrill members of the town council, as it would drive one of the town’s biggest events of the year out of the core of town and into Breckenridge Ski Resort’s backyard.
“If you finish at the base of Peak 8, you’re finishing at the ski area,” Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe said at a recent meeting. “You’re not finishing in the town of Breckenridge and the announcers will not call it the town of Breckenridge. I think that’s key to why we do this.”
The 3-year-old USA Pro Challenge pits some of the best cyclists in the world against each other and the Rocky Mountains in a grueling seven-day tour of the state, in what is quickly becoming one of Colorado’s most popular spectator events. For the last two years, the race has drawn tens of thousands of people to Breckenridge, which hosted first a stage finish and then a start on Main Street.
Council members also said they were concerned that the Peak 8 base area, though easily accessible to spectators via the BreckConnect gondola, wouldn’t be a visually appealing location for the internationally televised finish, as there will likely be a large construction project going on in the area.
A local time share company is looking for planning commission approval tonight to begin construction on a several-story resort development on Peak 8.
“If our project gets approved … there is going to be an enormous hole at the base of Peak 8. Enormous,” said Councilman Mike Dudick, who is a partial owner of the timeshare company proposing the project. “It’s a huge cut of earth and it’s just not going to look good.”
Town leaders suggested the last leg of the race wind through downtown Breckenridge and then climb another hill, such as Boreas Pass, to achieve the mountaintop finish.
Officials with the USA Pro Challenge could not be reached for comment Monday.
The race will run from Aug. 19-25, and is again expected to draw upwards of a million spectators to sidelines across the state.
The race route, set by Pro Challenge officials, has not yet been officially announced, but is set to start in Aspen, with teams touring through Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs, Beaver Creek, Vail and Loveland-Fort Collins before heading into Denver for the Stage 7 finish.
The exact route will be released in the spring, according to an earlier statement from the Pro Challenge.