Cycling start in Breck should pack plenty of punch |

Cycling start in Breck should pack plenty of punch

Caddie Nath
Summit Daily News
Daily file photo Fans line the course in Breckenridge last year as Elia Viviani crossed the finish line to win Stage 5. This year Breck hosts a race start.

It’s hard to forget the music and events, the tens of thousands of cheering fans and the finale of flying teams streaking into Breckenridge from Swan Mountain road for the Stage 5 finish of last year’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

This year, Breck landed a stage start, still on Friday and still on track to be just as unforgettable as the 2011 finish.

Some aspects of Friday’s start may even be better than last year, local organizers say. The riders themselves, for one.

“After a finish, the riders are kind of burned out and they’re kind of distant,” Breckenridge spokeswoman Kim Dykstra-DiLallo said. “With this, they’re excited, they’re pumped. The accessibility you get with the riders is much better with a start.”

Spectators will have plenty of opportunities to get up close and personal with the riders Friday morning, from the start village in downtown Breckenridge prior, when teams will be equipped with sharpies and ready to sign autographs, to the two parade laps around Breckenridge prior to the start.

The whole event is expected to be a bit more relaxed than last year as well, when roads across the county were closed and fans waited hours to catch a glimpse of the riders.

“Because we’re on a Friday, it’s easier for a nice, long weekend,” local organizing committee co-chair Lucy Kay said. “We hope to hold people all day long, and see more business in retail and restaurants because people don’t feel like they have to be out on the street for three hours to wait for their space.”

At 10:50 a.m. after a morning of festivities – spectators are advised to get to Breckenridge by 9 a.m. Friday – the 126 riders representing 16 teams will take off south from Breckenridge over Hoosier Pass headed toward the finish in Colorado Springs.

After they’re gone, events will continue through the day in Breck with a Cycling in The Rocky Mountains chalk art contest between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., and a mountain bike stunt show.

The race will be presented on a Jumbotron on the Riverwalk Center lawn, where cycling enthusiasts will reconvene to watch the stage finish.

A free concert by jazz artist Maceo Parker will follow.

The festivities are a bit more drawn out this year than last, beginning Thursday night with the Telluride Mountain Film Festival and Breckenridge Cruisers ride and continuing through the weekend with race viewing on the Jumbotron through Sunday.

“What we as the local organizing committee have worked towards is getting the lodging community and business community involved and saying, ‘Let’s plan stuff for two to three days so we can get them here on Thursday night and Friday night,'” Dykstra-DiLallo said. “It feels to me like the excitement is really building in the community.”

The planning and organizing has been less complex this year, local officials say as both race and local organizers get into a rhythm of putting on the event.

“That’s really helped us raise the bar,” Dykstra-DiLallo said.

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