• Aug. 20 — Stage 2: Aspen/Snowmass to Breckenridge
• Aug. 21 — Stage 3: Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs
• Aug. 22 — Stage 4: Steamboat Springs to Beaver Creek
• Aug. 23 — Stage 5: Vail Time Trial
• Aug. 24 — Stage 6: Loveland to Fort Collins
• Aug. 25 — Stage 7: Denver Circuit
Specific stage routes will be announced in the spring.
Steamboat Springs If you were asking visitors this summer what brought them to Steamboat Springs, you might have heard some say they made their vacation decision after watching the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge on TV.
That’s what organizers of the Steamboat Springs Bike Town USA Initiative saw in responses to a survey it conducted this past summer. And while it wasn’t an overwhelming number, it proved to the group that people are watching, and once Bike Town USA gets stuck in your head, it might just be hard not to check it out.
Another opportunity to capitalize on Bike Town USA efforts is approaching. USA Pro Challenge officials announced Wednesday that the bicycle race is coming back to Steamboat Springs after skipping Northwest Colorado in 2012.
The pre-eminent pro cycling race in the U.S. unveiled the 2013 host cities Wednesday morning in Aspen. Steamboat will host the Stage 3 finish Aug. 21 and the Stage 4 start Aug. 22. Stage 3 begins in Breckenridge, and Stage 4 ends in Beaver Creek.
“We’re thrilled to be a part of the best race in America for a second time,” Jim Schneider, co-chairman of the Steamboat Springs Local Organizing Committee, said in a news release. “The entire community of Steamboat Springs put on a fantastic event during the inaugural race, and we are looking forward to again hosting the best cyclists in the world on this incredible international stage.”
Also similar to 2011, one of the biggest benefits for Steamboat cited by committee members is the TV exposure. Bike Town USA will be beamed to an international audience on more than 150 channels, Schneider said.
The race also reaches cycling fans across the globe through online streaming coverage.
Schneider said that in talking with USA Pro Challenge CEO Shawn Hunter he learned that online viewers almost outweighed TV viewers during last year’s race.
“The reach that this thing has is incredible,” Schneider said.
And while there’ll be a bump in food and lodging dollars in Steamboat, reaching those far-flung cycling fans — and, hopefully, cycling tourists — is the long-term goal.
“The fact that people would come back to Steamboat on their vacations because they saw this event is a big part of what it’s about,” Schneider said.
“We’re really trying to bill Steamboat as the ultimate destination” for biking, said Doug Davis, Steamboat Springs Bike Town USA Initiative project coordinator.
Davis said an event like the USA Pro Challenge can generate even more excitement for the initiative.
Bike Town USA is an ongoing goal and vision, he said.
“It’s not just one group. It’s a collaboration with all these different groups in Steamboat,” Davis said. “There’s people in Steamboat that are working really hard for biking, and this (being awarded the bid for 2013) is the manifestation of that collaboration.”
Now that the lobbying for the bid is done, there remains plenty of work to make the event a success. Schneider said the organizing committee is going to start looking for sponsors for the event immediately.
The committee also expects to put on events leading up to and during the dates the race will be in town.
“Just having more events with all facets of biking will be a good way to go,” Schneider said.
The Bike Town USA initiative is planning to launch a new website with trail information that tourists can take advantage of.
“This is just going to be a great summer and season for biking,” Davis said.