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Despite Good Turnout, Race Future in Limbo

Photo by Kirk Siegler

As the USA Pro Cycling Challenge prepares to head from Avon to Steamboat Springs Friday, organizers of the inaugural event say they’re pleased with the turnout so far.  Thousands of fans have lined even some of the state’s most remote highways to catch a glimpse of the racers, but the race’s future beyond this year remains unclear.

For now, organizers are keeping tight-lipped.

But talk to anyone who’s turning out to see the USA Pro Cycling Challenge this week and the topic of its future is bound to come up.

"I hope it’s a regular thing," said fan Jim Rett while watching the race in Salida. "I hope it’s not just a one shot deal."

Watching the race a day later along Independence Pass, Andrew Slater echoed similar hopes.

"Having the old Coors Classic back in Colorado is a huge deal for the state and we definitely needed it so I hope this is not the last year that we see it," Slater said. 

The Coors Classic that this race is modeled after folded in 1988 when its chief sponsor pulled out.  Despite cycling’s growing fan base especially clear this week in Colorado, races like these are still heavily dependent on corporate sponsorship.

But the race’s chief operating officer, Brian Farris told Aspen Public Radio the level of competition and the turnout is exceeding expectations.

"It’s substantial to put on a race of this caliber just like any sporting event," Farris said. "Though we feel pretty good about the level of investment we’ve made and the results we’re driving out of it." 

Still, organizers say they’ll wait until after the race is finished Sunday to announce whether  it will be more than a one shot deal. 

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.
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