Luke Graham

Luke Graham

Luke Graham: Cycling Challenge quite the coup

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Luke Graham

Luke Graham's column appears periodically in the Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4229 or lgraham@SteamboatToday.com.

Find more columns by Luke here.

The goal really was simple.

Make calls to towns similar to Steamboat that have hosted high-end bike races like Tour of California and Tour of Utah and find out what is in store.

Really, it was searching for a town that had the race and didn’t want it back. I was certain I’d find one and find a plethora of reasons why said town didn’t want the race series back. With the USA Pro Cycling Challenge less than two weeks away, it seemed like a good thought.

The only real place I could find was Grand Junction, who decided not to put a bid in on this year’s race because of the tight schedule and lack of resources. The initial cost and resources the Pro Challenge requested originally scared off some people.

Grand Junction also wanted the stage to go across the Colorado National Monument, but park officials nixed the proposal.

Understand now, Grand Junction is making a strong push to host a stage in 2012, with many influential figures in the community forming the local organizing committee.

Beyond that, the goal was to find towns that had hosted and had a bad experience. It was tougher than anticipated.

Many of the towns said what was expected.

These types of races are something they always will welcome. They draw people in from outside the area. They help local businesses. They provide exposure to a much larger audience than just about any sort of marketing or advertising can do.

That’s probably the biggest thing out of it. While hard dollar figures were tough to come by in the short term, the long-term forecast for these events was where the true benefit remained.

Local committee chairman Jim Schneider said the upfront costs would be between $120,00 and $140,000. Initially, in this economic climate, that figure may not seem worth it.

But with races like this, the long-term benefits are what communities are after.

Think that the race will be broadcast for several hours a day on Versus, with a special Sunday broadcast on NBC, and it’s not hard to see the benefits.

People locally, regionally, nationally and internationally will see the landscape of Steamboat. They’ll see firsthand the ride from Avon to Steamboat and then from Steamboat to Breckenridge.

So the quest of finding a place that would bash a race turned up empty.

The efforts were short sighted and the goal wasn’t as simple as it seemed.

In the end, it’s looking like this USA Pro Cycling Challenge won’t be a drag. Instead, it’s shaping up to be quite the coup for Steamboat.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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