Thousands of spectators cheer as Elia Viviani of Team Liquigas-Cannondale races toward the finish line of Stage 4 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Steamboat Springs on Aug. 26, 2011.

Photo by John F. Russell

Thousands of spectators cheer as Elia Viviani of Team Liquigas-Cannondale races toward the finish line of Stage 4 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Steamboat Springs on Aug. 26, 2011.

Steamboat Springs plans to bid on 2013 USA Pro Cycling Challenge

After being passed over for this year's race, the city plans to pursue a Pro Cycling Challenge stage for next year

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— If you listen to Jim Schneider talk about the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, it's not a matter of if the race will come back to Steamboat Springs, but when.

“That’s my belief,” said Schneider, who chaired the local committee that organized the race's Steamboat stop in 2011. “If you ask someone from the tour the same question, I’d assume they’d say yes as well.”

The inaugural event in 2011 certainly sent Steamboat into a bike frenzy. Crowds packed the sides of Lincoln Avenue for the Stage 4 sprint finish and made the following day's Stage 5 start a party on Rabbit Ears Pass.

Estimates indicate last year's Pro Cycling Challenge drew more than 1 million spectators to the various stages and generated $83.5 million in total economic impact for the state.

But when the 2012 route was decided in December, Steamboat was left off the list.

“I think it was somewhat expected that it needs to go to other parts of the state to showcase the other parts,” Schneider said. “It went south. Was I surprised? No. Was I disappointed? Yes. I think they’ll be back. They loved what we did last year.”

This year's race route starts with a tour of southwest Colorado, beginning Monday with Stage 1 in Durango.

The 2012 route is: Stage 1, Durango to Telluride; Stage 2, Montrose to Crested Butte; Stage 3, Gunnison to Aspen; Stage 4, Aspen to Beaver Creek; Stage 5, Breckenridge to Colorado Springs; Stage 6, Golden to Boulder; and Stage 7, time trial in Denver.

The race doesn’t head north of Interstate 70 until the sixth stage.

That doesn't mean Steamboat didn't leave a good impression with race organizers.

Steamboat was “the most energetic stage I’d ever been a part of in cycling,” Pro Cycling Challenge CEO Shawn Hunter said after the Aug. 26 Stage 4 last year. “Steamboat shined on a big platform.”

Schneider said the local group already has started to plan a proposal for next year, including several route suggestions. He will head to a couple of race stages next week to talk with race officials, all in hopes of landing a spot in 2013.

“If they come north of I-70 (in future races),” Schneider said, “there are not a whole lot of communities that make an ideal setting like Steamboat does.”

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Steamboat finish

Riders come through the finish line during the USA Pro Cycling Challenge Steamboat stage finish Friday afternoon.

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

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