Vail will host 2018 Colorado Classic bike race stages, Breckenridge interested in 2019 return |

Vail will host 2018 Colorado Classic bike race stages, Breckenridge interested in 2019 return

Scott N. Miller and Antonio Olivero
Colorado Mountain News Media
Back in August, the "Bieffel Tower" on the lawn at the Riverwalk Center in downtown Breckenridge glows to mark the return of professional cycling to Summit County with the Colorado Classic. Stage 2 of the event came to town last summer with men's and women's races on a circuit-style loop.
Hugh Carey / |

About the Classic

When: The Vail stages will be Aug. 16-17, 2018.

Where: Vail.

Events: A circuit race and a time trial.

A twist: There will also be women’s races.

Source: Vail Valley Foundation

Professional cycling’s return to Vail in August 2018 means the Colorado Classic will not take place in Breckenridge for the second consecutive year.

The Vail Town Council at its Tuesday, Dec. 19, evening meeting approved $310,000 in town funding for two days of racing in Vail. The town will also provide roughly $65,000 in in-kind services, including police and fire protection, as well as traffic control.

The funds were requested by the Vail Valley Foundation, which is working with the relatively new Colorado Classic, organized by RPM Events Group, which has worked to bring back professional racing to the state.

The Colorado Classic had its inaugural event in August and presented a four-stage series, two of which took place in Breckenridge. In the first year, the series was confined to Denver, Colorado Springs and Breckenridge. But foundation officials have been working with RPM to return racing to Vail.

The 2018 Colorado Classic will end up in just Denver and Vail. Two days of racing — Thursday, Aug. 16 and Friday, Aug.17 — are scheduled to take place in Vail.

The planned stages are a circuit race in which riders lap the streets of town. The second stage will be a time trial from Vail Village part way up Vail Pass.

2017 in Breck

This past summer, the Colorado Classic brought more than a dozen Olympians, several national champions from across the globe and four UCI World Tour men’s teams to Breckenridge, where thousands of race fans watched a women’s and men’s race. As part of the Colorado Classic weekend, the town also hosted VIP parties, Strider bike races and vendor villages.

Speaking Thursday, Breckenridge town spokeswoman Haley Littleton said the town agreed with RPM to host part of the inaugural 2017 event under the condition that Breckenridge would not also bid on the 2018 event. That said, Littleton added that Breckenridge and the event group are of the understanding that the town is interested in hosting the event again in 2019.

“There was never an intention to host two years in a row,” Littleton said

As part of the agreement to host the 2017 race stages, Breckenridge provided $100,000, which was paid directly to RPM in order for them to put on the event. In addition, the town also provided $50,000 for in-kind services with its public works, police department and other services.

“The town of Breckenridge sees the Colorado Classic, and other similar events, as an opportunity to brand ourselves as a biking destination and solidify our place in that world,” Littleton said. “We get the opportunity to have primetime exposure in the European market, and the town looks very inviting to bikers. The strategy was building a long-term brand and reputation as a place for world-class cycling. We’re excited to host large scale biking events in town that draw people from across the state, country and world, and have a lot of fun while doing it.”

Big media presence

The races in Vail should fill hundreds of rooms just for competitors, sponsors and support staff. More than 110 male competitors are expected, along with a roughly 60-rider field for women’s racing. Those teams will all bring support people. Organizers expect more than 1,400 rooms will be booked between the race teams, race organizers, sponsors and partners.

There will also be a heavy-duty media presence. The races are scheduled to run in prime time in European markets and will be broadcast by EuroSport, a top sports channel in those markets.

Races will also be live-streamed by TourTracker, which will have more than two hours of programming on both days.

That racing is going to show Vail and more Vail. Unlike the former USA Pro Challenge, which took riders all over the state, the Colorado Classic is staying close to the starting lines of the four stages.

In Vail, that means an Aug. 16 circuit race will take competitors on a race across town streets on the south side of Interstate 70, on a route still to be determined. The Aug. 17 stage will be a time trial up Vail Pass, with the start and finish in Vail Village.

Councilman Greg Moffet said just the media exposure for Vail has great value. Add in the bookings from teams, organizers and guests, “And I have a really hard time coming up with a way not to (provide funding),” he said.

It’s hard to tell how many people will come to the first year of racing, but the last USA Pro Challenge time trial up Vail Pass drew thousands of spectators.

Vail Valley Foundation President Mike Imhof told the council that the ultimate goal is to equal the crowds seen at June’s GoPro Mountain Games. That’s going to take some time, since the 2017 games drew more than 70,000 spectators. To help bring those crowds, and keep people for a couple of nights, the foundation is also planning to have gear and sponsor tents associated with the races.

And, in an effort to both match prime time TV watching in Europe and avoid frequent afternoon thunderstorms, the racing is scheduled to be finished by 3 p.m. both days.

Racing and music

In addition to the racing and its associated events, a pair of concerts is planned for the weekend. The concerts are run separately from the races, and Imhof said the group is working on paid-ticket events with big-name headliners on Friday, Aug. 17, and Saturday, Aug. 18. Performers haven’t yet been scheduled, but Imhof said ticket prices should fall in the $30 to $50 range.

The racing and music “dovetail quite well together,” Imhof said, adding that the Foundation is assuming the entire financial risk for the music events.

The timing of the racing and music is good for Vail. That weekend in August has been identified as a “need” time for visitors. Since it comes just before school starts in many Colorado districts, there will be plenty of families available to attend the events.

“This is an awesome opportunity for us,” councilwoman Kim Langmaid said.

Mayor Dave Chapin said he was skeptical of the proposal, but was willing to support the town expenditure.

“I hope the business community sees the benefit of this,” Chapin said.

Vail Daily business editor Scott Miller: Summit Daily sports editor:

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