Pro cyclists in the inaugural Colorado Classic men’s race covered 313 miles (503.5 km) and endured more than 20,000 feet of intense, high-altitude climbing. The event marked the return of pro cycling to the state in a format intended to broaden the sport’s appeal by featuring circuits that provided repeated opportunities for fans to see the riders and racing action up close. For stages 3 and 4 in Denver, the race was included in a three-day festival and marketplace in the River North Art District dubbed Velorama.
“We’ve hosted tens of thousands of cycling and music fans this weekend in Denver, with many more on the road throughout the past four days. It’s been a great first year and we’re looking forward to capitalizing on our momentum,” said David Koff, CEO of RPM Events Group, the organization formed to put on the race and and accompanying Velorama Festival.
Golden’s Alex Howes (Cannondale-Drapac), who finished third overall, welcomed the race’s emphasis on re-inventing the bike race.
“Even though I’m disappointed in my finish, I think it was exciting,” he said. “Maybe we need to take a lesson from roller derby … we need to get people revved! Hopefully they show up in 2018.”
RPM Events Group Chairman Ken Gart said organizers are planning for a second year and intend to learn from both their successes and their failures.
“The fundamental concept of marrying a music festival to a bike race and broader community celebration was very successful,” he said. “We heard from fans and vendors that they were thrilled. We had some problems, but that comes with every first-year event, so overall we’re thrilled.”
Race director Jim Birrell had a similar assessment.
“The format that Ken and RPM came up with lends itself to a better spectator experience, better community experience and a better sponsor experience. It’s a better opportunity to see the riders – to be able to cheer riders on to finish line,” he said.
The Colorado Classic is sanctioned by Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and designated as a 2.HC race, which is the highest category outside of World Tour races. The Colorado Classic is also part of the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour, which showcases the premier domestic road events in the United States.
The first edition of the Colorado Classic included 96 of the sport’s top men and 84 of the best women pro cyclists. A field of 16 men’s teams and 15 women’s teams competed in the return of pro cycling to the Centennial State.