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Windsor Pulls Out The Stops For USA Pro Challenge

Nathan Heffel

When stage 6 of the USA Pro Challenge rolls Saturday, all eyes will be on Northern Colorado – and Windsor.

In downtown Windsor you can still see a red brick wall rising precariously over the historic mill. It’s the last visible damage from a devastating tornado that struck the town in 2008. The storm aftermath and recovery was the last time Windsor received national attention.

Credit Colorado Preservation.org / http://coloradopreservation.org/programs/endangered-places/endangered-places-archives/windsor-mill/
The Windsor Mill.

Melissa Chew, Windsor’s Director of Parks, Recreation and Culture hopes the town of 20,000 will become known for something else when stage 6 of the USA Pro Cycle Challenge is broadcast across Colorado, the nation, and the world.

“To show how we value quality of life, how we value those partnerships,” said Chew. “How we value regional collaboration, how we value doing something new and different and taking challenges.”

Stage 6 is unique among the seven that make up the 2013 USA Pro Challenge. That uniqueness comes from Fort Collins, Loveland, Estes Park and Windsor all joining together to host says Katy Schneider, representative of the local stage 6 committee.

“We recognized that we were different in a lot of ways because so many people have either bid on a start of a finish, or in some cases they’ve been the finish one day and the start the next,” said Schneider.

Credit courtesy of USA Pro Challenge

To have any chance of landing the race in Northern Colorado, the four communities as well as Larimer County had to work together with one regional voice says Schneider. They also had come up with nearly half-a-million dollars.

“And again very different then what you’ll hear from Breckenridge or other destinations where they are just a start or finish,” Schneider said. “We have a lot of moving parts and because we are more concentrated population wise than some of the other destinations, we have those added costs of police and making sure that every intersection is safely passed through and what not.”

Windsor’s share was $10,000.

A small price for what the community and business owners hopes will be a big payoff. Dan Stauss’ Memory Lane Antiques will have a front row seat on race day. His store sits right on Main Street in downtown Windsor, the prime route for the race’s first sprint of the day. Stauss, along with the Downtown Development Authority, were a strong advocate for bringing the Challenge to Windsor.

“I hope we have a boost in business,” said Stauss. “I think maybe not just that day, but I’m hoping just the exposure of people seeing the shops, seeing the stores and then coming back at a later time, when they have more time or the focus is more on exploring the town.”

"Windsor sometimes gets lost in its bigger neighbors and this is an opportunity for us to be right up there with the big guys."

Windsor and all of the stops on the stage hope for positive results. They have no way of knowing since this is the first year of the race in Northern Colorado, there’s no hard data yet to back them up.

Breckenridge on the other hand does have hard data.

Breck has hosted a stage every year since the race started in 2011. Lucy Kay, co-chair of the local Breckenridge stage committee says when her committee first presented the idea of hosting a stage to town officials three years ago, it had to stress there would be no quick monetary return on investments.

“We were all in agreement that the purpose for this would be long term, um, positioning for Breckenridge as a summer destination, a cycling destination specifically,” Kay said. “That would be where the return of investment would be is that positioning over the long haul. If we were looking for a 2 or 3 day pop in business it’s probably other things you could do that would be more effective.”


Windsor’s Melissa Chew hopes the town will see a bump in visitors after the race, but for her, it’s about showing what her small town is truly capable of.

“Windsor sometimes gets lost in its bigger neighbors and this is an opportunity for us to be right up there with the big guys,” said Chew. “To provide not only a great opportunity for the race itself and the participants of the race because we think the course through Windsor is kind of exciting for them, but also just regionally to provide something that’s exciting and working with the partnership has just been great.”

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