Our View: Staging for success in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge | SteamboatToday.com

Our View: Staging for success in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge

It was an unforgettable scene for the thousands of folks gathered along Lincoln Avenue on the afternoon of Aug. 26, 2011. Months of planning and anticipation culminated in an all-out sprint for the Stage 4 finish line at Sixth Street and Lincoln Avenue. The ground literally pulsed with excitement as some of the world's top professional cyclists wrapped up another day of racing in the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

The scene, albeit more muted, repeated the next morning, when the racers took off from the base of Steamboat Ski Area and pedaled up Rabbit Ears Pass en route to that day's stage finish in downtown Breckenridge. Thousands of curious spectators, residents and guests, lined U.S. Highway 40 to the west summit of the pass to take in the spectacle. The riders raced past, and then it was done.

Local businesses reported mixed results from Steamboat's hosting of a stage finish and a stage start in the 2011 race. Some retail shops, restaurants and hotels were busier than usual for the last weekend in August, while others were disappointed that the crowds who came for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge didn't spend more money. Regardless, most agreed the event was a spectacular marketing opportunity for Steamboat Springs, underscored by the significant national and international TV audiences that watched coverage of the race. And, the event was a lot of fun.

It's for those reasons we're excited the race will return in August, after skipping over Steamboat and Northwest Colorado this past summer. And while the community should temper its expectations of what the race might mean for the city given our firsthand experience of two years ago, that shouldn't curtail any efforts toward making next year's hosting duties a full-on celebration of Steamboat Springs and all that it offers.

Kudos are due to Jim Schneider and the local organizing committee that made the successful bid for the 2013 race. With Steamboat's role in next year's USA Pro Cycling Challenge confirmed, the real work is set to begin. That will include significant fundraising efforts as well as in-kind contributions from local businesses and city government. We hope our community embraces the challenge as enthusiastically as it did two years ago.