Glenwood skips chance to host international bike tour
An international amateur cycling tour through the Rocky Mountains that’s being planned for its inaugural run during the summer of 2017 is just the kind of event Glenwood Springs would like to be in a position to host, local tourism officials agree.
But the timing of the late June event that particular year, and a lack of infrastructure, organizational support and funding, led the city’s Tourism Promotion Board recently to reject an offer to be a host city for the Haute Route Rockies, at least for now.
“We have talked about things like this in terms of the future,” said Lisa Langer, vice president of tourism marketing for the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association, who staffs the tourism board.
“I wanted to bring this before them so that they understand why these kinds of events are too big for us now, but that it’s something we can work toward down the road,” she said.
Complicating matters is also the fact that the new Grand Avenue bridge will be in the final stages of construction at that point, she said.
Langer said she informed event organizer Francois Vergnol of the European sports marketing outfit OC Sport on Tuesday that the city would not be submitting a tender to be a host site for the inaugural event.
Among the main reasons, she told him, is that Glenwood Springs does not have a large enough events center or overnight accommodations to adequately host such an event, especially during the peak of summer tourist season.
“That happens to be a week in the year between two major events, Strawberry Days and July 4th,” Langer said.
Organizers also wanted a local event coordinator to serve as the point person to line up hotel rooms, camping facilities and tents, portable toilets, staging, sound equipment, volunteers and a race headquarters, she said.
The cost to do all that could come to as much as $75,000 per year, and a three-year bid for what’s being planned as an annual event is looked upon more favorably by the event organizers, Langer said.
The Haute Route, which stages yearly events in the Alps, Pyrenees and Dolomites regions of Europe, promises to attract 600 riders from around the world, plus family and support, to Colorado for the event scheduled for June 23-30, 2017.
“These dates were chosen carefully studying the cycling calendar in the U.S. and Colorado in particular, and talking to many local organizations … as well as USA Cycling,” according to a query for host city interest that was issued in the fall.
A “test event,” involving a small group of former Haute Route riders and journalists, is planned for June 17-24 this year.
Once established, the week-long tour is to consist of a mix of moderate and more-difficult stages going over several of Colorado’s iconic mountain passes. One host site will also have an individual time trial stage.
“The Haute Route is not trying to duplicate existing cycling events in Colorado,” the query also stated. “We have selected the end-of-June dates in order to not ‘step on anyone’s toes,’ whilst maximizing our chances of suitable weather conditions.”
Tentatively, organizers are eyeing Boulder as the start point and Colorado Springs for the finish, Langer said.
Tourism board members said during a discussion at their Jan. 21 meeting that an event the caliber of the Haute Route would be beneficial to Glenwood Springs, especially during the shoulder seasons. Coming up with a plan to build large event infrastructure remains a long-term goal for the city, she said.
Langer said Glenwood Springs is not alone among mountain resort towns in questioning its ability to be a host site for the event. Officials in Breckenridge, Vail and Steamboat Springs have also been reluctant to sign on, she said.
“And those are towns that have much more in the way of monetary resources than we do,” she said.
Attempts to reach Vergnol via email on Tuesday regarding the status of organizing the event were not successful.
Organizers expect to officially announce the start/finish cities by early March, and the full Haute Route Rockies 2017 course and host communities by early May.
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