USA Pro Challenge returns to Breckenridge for finishing stage in 2014
Barely more than two months after the final stage wrapped up in Denver, it’s off to the races for next year’s big bike event.
The USA Pro Challenge will return to Breckenridge in 2014 for the finishing stop on Stage 5 of the professional bike race.
The race will take place Aug. 18 to 24, 2014, in eight different Colorado cities. Cyclists will travel from Woodland Park to Breckenridge on Friday, Aug. 22.
CEO Shawn Hunter said the event historically puts out a request to all interested cities across the state. In years past, as many as 30 cities have put in applications to host either a start or finish stage.
This year, he said, because the event stays in close contact with cities on a year-round basis, organizers sat down directly with cities that had expressed interest in 2014 and were a good match for the potential routes.
“The process saved us time and money,” he said. “We were able to get to a 2014 host city roster 45 days sooner than in years past. I feel like this is the best lineup of cities in the race’s history.”
The town of Breckenridge has been a stop since the race began in 2011, along with Aspen. Last year, the Pro Challenge spent two days in Breckenridge, as a finish on Stage 2 and a start on Stage 3. Hunter said the Pro Challenge has a mix of alumni cities, which have been successful in the past, and new cities.
“Aspen and Breckenridge have both done wonderful jobs and really contribute to the race,” he said. “As veterans, their jobs get easier because they get more and more experience.”
Hunter said the majority of investment comes from the race itself; they spend about $10 million every year to produce the event. The Pro Challenge recoups a lot of that money through sponsorships, Hunter said. For individual cities, the Pro Challenge assists with finding local sponsors and fundraising to help recover out-of-pocket expenses. He said there are also the short-term and long-term effects of tourism, lodging and food and beverage sales.
Kim Dykstra-DiLallo, spokesperson for the town of Breckenridge, said the town has set aside $200,000 for the 2014 race. She said they do not anticipate spending that in full.
“We’re very honored to be chosen for a fourth year,” she said. “We have done three different scenarios and wanted to go back to a finish. We feel confident we can put on a great finish with that money.”
In each of the first two years, Breckenridge spent about $150,000 on the event. They increased the amount last year to account for both a start and finish stage.
“We’ll see how sponsorship dollars come in, but we are not going to be frugal because this is a good investment,” Dykstra-DiLallo said.
She said the town received widespread community support to host the race again, making it easy to say yes when asked if they would be interested in doing it again.
“We didn’t sit down and say, we spent x-amount of dollars and are looking for x-amount back,” she said. “This bike race is a great marketing tool for us in Breckenridge and globally for Colorado.”
Kenneth Nelson, president of the Breckenridge chapter of the Colorado Restaurant Association, wrote a letter to the town council at the end of August expressing support for having the Pro Challenge event in town.
“While most of our restaurant community did not experience a daily surge in sales we believe the long-term effect upon our economy has been enhanced,” he wrote.
He also expressed how the Breckenridge Restaurant Association “believes the considerable costs and efforts devoted to the Pro Challenge benefit the community” because of targeted television exposure, showcasing summer activities, being produced by whole community and not just the ski resort, contributing to community character and investing in the town more dynamically than an ad campaign.
This year also includes the first mountaintop finish at Monarch Mountain, and the final stage will be chosen in a vote from fans. The Pro Challenge is often billed as the most difficult cycling race because of the extreme inclines and altitudes.
“The host cities selected for the 2014 USA Pro Challenge will really highlight the majestic beauty of Colorado to our worldwide audience,” said Rick Schaden, owner of the USA Pro Challenge, in a prepared statement. “These cities are valued partners who help us continue to raise the bar for professional cycling in America.”
Additional details regarding the start and finish locations of the 2014 race, as well as the specific, detailed route will be announced in the spring.
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