The peloton works its way up underneath Rabbit Ears Peak on Wednesday near the end of Stage 3 of the USA Pro Challenge. Hundreds greeted the riders on the pass and thousands more waited in Steamboat Springs. As they biked up, the peloton were trying to cut into the lead built by Jens Voigt and a pack of four other breakaway riders.

Photo by Joel Reichenberger

The peloton works its way up underneath Rabbit Ears Peak on Wednesday near the end of Stage 3 of the USA Pro Challenge. Hundreds greeted the riders on the pass and thousands more waited in Steamboat Springs. As they biked up, the peloton were trying to cut into the lead built by Jens Voigt and a pack of four other breakaway riders.

Pro Challenge CEO: Steamboat stages a model for race

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— When USA Pro Challenge CEO Shawn Hunter said in 2011 in Steamboat Springs that the city had put on the event’s best stage, some wrote it off as playing to the crowd.

Speaking Wednesday after the finish of Stage 3 of this year’s Pro Challenge, he backed up that sentiment, somewhat at least.

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Talking about the race’s future, he said Steamboat in 2011 offered a model that organizers noticed and one they will be trying to incorporate in their schedule in future years.

“In 2011, Steamboat was the only community that had a finish and a start in the same place,” he said. “It had a big economic impact, and we had a lot of support from the communities.”

Steamboat was the only town to host a finish and a start in the race’s first year, 2011, and in 2012, only Aspen had that honor. This year, Breckenridge was the finish point for Stage 2 and the start of Stage 3, while Steamboat had the finish for Stage 3 and the start for Stage 4.

There could be even more in the future.

“Based on the feedback from riders and fans in the past, a finish and a start in the same city is a win-win for everyone,” he said.

Asked about the long-term health of the race, Hunter assured it would return to the state next year, commenting that it was ahead of the schedule laid out in a five-year plan when he stepped in six months before the 2011 race.

“We are a not-for-profit for our first five years. Selling sponsorship and international TV rights are our biggest revenue streams, and these take time. Something like this takes patience and a unique financial commitment, and fortunately we have that from the Schaden family,” he said, referring to the race’s owners, Rick Schaden and his father, Richard Schaden. “If this event was funded by the public, we wouldn’t be here today.

“We’re on pace, and knock on wood, we might even break even in year four, which would be one year ahead of our five-year business plan.”

As to whether the race would be hitting Steamboat again any time soon, he offered no answer.

"We were talking today, and we have five or six routes already," he said. "I won't tell you what they are."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com

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