Our View: Ready for prime time
August 24, 2011
It should be quite the spectacle when 130 or so of the best cyclists in the world sprint into downtown Steamboat Springs on Friday to close out Stage 4 of the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
The finish will be preceded by five hours of a downtown Lifestyle Expo on a closed-down Lincoln Avenue. There will be live music, food, a variety of vendors and big-screen TVs to air the live broadcast of the race.
After a Stage 4 awards ceremony, including the ceremonial presentation of the yellow jersey for the race leader, revelers can head to Howelsen Hill for the final Free Summer Concert Series performance of the year. The day will be capped by a fireworks show, also at Howelsen Hill.
Did we mention that the fun continues Saturday with the Stage 5 start from the mountain area, including what should be an epic climb up Rabbit Ears Pass as the cyclists make their way to the stage finish in Breckenridge?
Count us among those who hope Friday and Saturday meet, or even exceed, the hype. But no matter what you think about professional cycling or the impact the event will have on our lives here in Steamboat for a 24-hour period, kudos are in order for the dedicated team of local residents, city and county government employees and private business employees who worked countless hours and raised in excess of $150,000 to put Steamboat Springs on the international stage.
The Pro Cycling Challenge's local organizing committee, headed by Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp.'s Jim Schneider, have met for much of the past year to plan for what will take place Friday and Saturday. The time commitment of that group of volunteers has been incredible. And the payoff could be much more than a great couple of days in Steamboat as summer comes to a close.
The Pro Cycling Challenge is being broadcast nationally and internationally to bike-crazy countries across Europe. Steamboat is the only host city to be part of a stage finish and a stage start. That means more exposure of our community to potential winter and summer visitors.
In the short-term, we're optimistic this weekend's festivities will bring a late-summer boon to our economy, particularly on an August weekend that typically is slow. It will be important for community and business leaders to measure the actual impact of the Pro Cycling Challenge this weekend to help us better prepare for future years of this or other events.
But for now, let's enjoy what should be a fantastic couple of days in one of the best places on Earth to call home. That we can share it with a new audience will make it that much more special.