As Aspen seeks to host a part of the USA Pro Challenge cycling race for the third-straight year, local officials are hoping to land the overall start of the race and also potentially involve Snowmass Village.
Bids from cities wanting a piece of the race were due on Friday. At least 19 cities submitted bids, including 10 of the 12 host communities from the 2012 race, according to The Denver Post. Durango and Boulder, which hosted stages this year, declined to submit bids for 2013, but Fort Collins, Loveland and Estes Park are pulling for a northern Front Range stage on the second to last day of the race.
The bids themselves are not public documents, said Aspen City Attorney Jim True, because they are part of a negotiation process with bike race organizers.
Hosting a stage start or finish of the professional cycling race, which came to Colorado in 2011, requires investment from the host communities. Included on the list of things host communities provide are subsidized or free lodging, as well as food, for race participants; security, entertainment and porta-potties for spectators on race day; and there are also marketing and public relations costs incurred by the individual communities.
Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland said he hopes Aspen can host the overall race start next year. Doing so would allow the town to capitalize on visitors extending their stays beyond the weekend, since the race starts on a Monday, he said.
Another idea is to potentially involve other communities or areas of the valley. Conversations have been launched with Snowmass Village about potentially bringing some of the race there, Ireland said. He also said a time trial up to the Maroon Bells could be a good addition to the race.
“We’re seeing who wants to cooperate and we’d like to see a bigger piece of the action,” Ireland said.
Snowmass Village Mayor Bill Boineau said he’s been briefed on the possibility of bringing the race to Snowmass, and that he’s interested in the concept.
Snowmass played a role in the 1980s pro bike race known as the Coors Classic, Boineau noted. In those days, riders would pedal up the steep Snowmelt Road adjacent to the Snowmass Mall, before speeding down Brush Creek Road, a segment of the race known as “suicide hill,” Boineau said.
Snowmass also hosted a stage of the 2011 women’s professional race that was launched in Aspen the same week as the Pro Challenge.
Bringing pro cycling back to Snowmass “would be a great thing to look at,” Boineau said, but he cautioned that he’s not sure what kind of dollars the town would be able to put toward the race.
Aspen spent about $285,000 hosting a stage finish and the next-day start this year, and had revenues, including $166,000 in public and chamber of commerce funding, of $277,000, according to a city budget reconciliation. In 2011, Aspen hosted a stage finish.
Councilman Torre said he “absolutely supports” the 2013 bid.
“There’s a level of inconvenience the city has to endure, but overall there’s a benefit,” Torre said.