Vail will host two stages of the Colorado Classic pro cycling event in August 2018
About the Classic
When: The Vail stages will be Aug. 16-17, 2018.
Events: A circuit race and a time trial.
A twist: There will also be women’s races.
Source: Vail Valley Foundation
VAIL — Professional cycling racing is returning to Vail in August 2018.
The Vail Town Council at its Tuesday, Dec. 19, evening meeting approved $310,000 in town funding for two days of racing in town. The town will also provide roughly $65,000 in “in kind” services, including police and fire protection, as well as traffic control.
The funds were requested by the Vail Valley Foundation, which is working with the relatively new Colorado Classic, organized by RPM Events Group, which has worked to bring back professional racing to the state.
The Colorado Classic had its first year this year and presented a four-stage series. In the first year, the series was confined to Denver, Colorado Springs and Breckenridge. But foundation officials have been working with RPM to return racing to Vail.
The 2018 Colorado Classic will end up in just Denver and Vail. In Vail, two days of racing are scheduled, on Thursday, Aug. 16, and Friday, Aug. 17.
The planned stages are a circuit race in which riders lap the streets of town. The second stage will be a time trial from Vail Village part way up Vail Pass.
Big media presence
The races should fill hundreds of rooms just for competitors, sponsors and others. More than 110 male competitors are expected, along with a roughly 60-rider field for women’s racing. Those teams will all bring support people. Organizers expect more than 1,400 rooms will be booked between the race teams, race organizers, sponsors and partners.
There will also be a heavy-duty media presence.
The races are scheduled to run in prime time in European markets and will be broadcast by EuroSport, a top sports channel in those markets.
Races will also be live-streamed by TourTracker, which will have more than two hours of programming on both days.
That racing is going to show Vail and more Vail. Unlike the former USA Pro Challenge, which took riders all over the state, the Colorado Classic is staying close to the starting lines of the four stages.
In Vail, that means an Aug. 16 circuit race will take competitors on a race across town streets on the south side of Interstate 70, on a route still to be determined. The Aug. 17 stage will be a time trial up Vail Pass, with the start and finish in Vail Village.
Council member Greg Moffet said just the media exposure for Vail has great value. Add in the bookings from teams, organizers and guests, “And I have a really hard time coming up with a way not to [provide funding],” he said.
It’s hard to tell how many people will come to the first year of racing, but the last USA Pro Challenge time trial up Vail Pass drew thousands of spectators.
Vail Valley Foundation President Mike Imhof told the council that the ultimate goal is to equal the crowds seen at June’s GoPro Mountain Games. That’s going to take some time, since the 2017 games drew more than 70,000 spectators. To help bring those crowds, and keep people for a couple of nights, the foundation is also planning to have gear and sponsor tents associated with the races.
And, in an effort to both match prime time TV watching in Europe and avoid frequent afternoon thunderstorms, the racing is scheduled to be finished by 3 p.m. both days.
Racing and music
In addition to the racing and its associated events, a pair of concerts is planned for the weekend. The concerts are run separately from the races, and Imhof said the group is working on paid-ticket events with big-name headliners on Friday, Aug. 17, and Saturday, Aug. 18. Performers haven’t yet been scheduled, but Imhof said ticket prices should fall in the $30 to $50 range.
The racing and music “dovetail quite well together,” Imhof said, adding that the foundation is assuming the entire financial risk for the music events.
The timing of the racing and music is good for Vail. That weekend in August has been identified as a “need” time for visitors. Since it comes just before school starts in many Colorado districts, there will be plenty of families available to attend the events.
“This is an awesome opportunity for us,” council member Kim Langmaid said.
Mayor Dave Chapin said he was skeptical of the proposal, but was willing to support the town expenditure.
“I hope the business community sees the benefit of this,” Chapin said.
Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, firstname.lastname@example.org and @scottnmiller.
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