Steamboat stage race growing in its 2nd year

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A look at the Steamboat Springs Stage Race

■ Sept. 3: Aspire Performance Individual Time Trial

Details: Race will start at 1:30 p.m. with rider intervals every 30 seconds. The course starts past the Brooklyn neighborhood and travels 3 miles south on River Road. Racers turn around at Chuck Lewis State Wildlife Area, return on River Road, turn right on Mount Werner Road and finish at Knoll Parking Lot.

Road details: The section of River Road from Brooklyn to Tree Haus will be closed. Motorists should expect delays on Mount Werner Road. The right hand stretch of Mount Werner Road will be coned off for riders.

■ Sept. 4: Marabou Ranch Circuit Race

Details: The course is 4.5 miles a lap, going counter-clockwise through Marabou Ranch and east on County Road 42. The first group will begin at 8 a.m. with the last divisions set for 3:15 p.m.

Road details: Motorists can expect delays on sections of C.R. 42.

■ Sept. 5: Moots Road Race

Details: The 70-mile race starts with heats at 8 a.m. The 55-mile heats begin at noon. All racers begin on a 1-mile stretch of dirt road on C.R. 33A. Riders then turn right and travel along C.R. 33. The 70-mile course follows C.R. 33 to C.R. 27 and continues toward Hayden. Riders then return on C.R. 27 toward Oak Creek before turning around and returning to C.R. 33 back to the finish. The 55-mile ride goes out C.R. 33 and onto C.R. 27 toward Hayden. Riders then return the same way they rode out.

Road details: Motorists should expect minor delays on C.R. 33 and C.R. 27.

■ Sept. 6: Ski & Bike Kare Criterium

Details: The 0.8-mile loop runs counter-clockwise on Oak, Pine, Fourth and Eighth Streets. Race divisions begin at 7:30 a.m. and continue until the last group begins at 2:40 p.m.

Road details: Oak and Pine Streets between Fourth and Eighth Streets will be closed during this criterium. There also will be no parking on those stretches during the race.

As Corey Piscopo sat behind his desk at Moots on Thursday, it was clear what a difference a year has made.

Piscopo, the promoter for the Steamboat Springs Stage Race, organized the event’s inaugural year in 2009 unsure about how it would be received or even how many riders would compete.

But as the race’s second year draws near, Piscopo looks like the guy who may have brought Steamboat Springs its next big summer staple.

The second annual Steamboat Springs Stage Race is set for Labor Day weekend, beginning Friday and continuing through Monday with four days of high-paced road bike racing.

Judging by early entries, this year’s race should be even more popular.

Last year, 302 racers tackled the four days of events. As of Thursday, more than 220 racers had registered, and Piscopo expects that final tally to approach 400. On the last day of registration in 2009, 75 riders signed up.

Registration for this year’s race ends Wednesday. The cost is $140, and riders can register at www.bikesteamboat.com.

There are nine categories of riders, including professional and amateur, that will compete for a $7,500 cash purse and $750 Criterium priems.

“I wasn’t 100 percent sure if it would live on,” Piscopo said about the Stage Race. “It depended on how that first year went off, how it was received in town and locally and if the riders didn’t have a good experience.”

Late Thursday, Piscopo confirmed that pro riders Timmy Duggan and Jake Wells will be among this year’s racers. Duggan is a member of the Garmin-Transitions team, and Wells rides for Mafia Racing.

“Other professional riders have expressed an interest in racing,” Piscopo said. “We’re waiting for commitments.”

The Steamboat Grand, which will serve as race headquarters, already is sold out for the weekend, with many people extending their stays before and after the race.

“The key for the success of an event is to make sure it’s safe and goes smooth,” Piscopo said. “Do that and people will come back. What counts for racers is a quality event.”

The four-day race will look much like last year’s, with one stage change.

The route of the Sept. 3 opening stage — the Aspire In­­di­vidual Time Trial — has been altered. It will begin past Brook­lyn and head south on River Road to Chuck Lewis State Wild­­life Area before turning back. Riders then will head up Mount Werner Road and finish at Knoll Parking Lot.

Saturday’s event will be a circuit race at Marabou Ranch. Sunday is a road race that goes varying distances, depending on race category, along Routt County Roads 33 and 27, with Monday’s finale being a Cri­terium race that runs counter-clockwise on Oak, Pine, Fourth and Eighth Streets in downtown Steamboat.

“It’s the greatest thing since French toast,” said Jim Barker, who competed in the event last year and also competed in a stage race the last time it was in Steamboat in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

“That type of racing is just so fulfilling. It’s a multi-day event and to have it right here in town on terrific terrain and the way Corey put things on was so incredible. The whole thing is just great.”

Part of the event’s appeal is that it’s open to amateur racers, unlike many stage races. Piscopo said the biggest age division is men’s 35 and older amateurs.

And Piscopo already is thinking bigger. His motivation is simple.

“We’re not a promotional company, and we’re not in it to make money,” he said. “I’m just an average cyclist trying to do something good for Steamboat.”

For more information and complete stage details and maps, visit www.bikesteamboat.com.

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