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Steamboat Opens 2015 Pro Challenge, Stage 6 Still Up For Grabs

Stage 1 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge began Tuesday in Salida.
Kirk Siegler
Stage 1 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge began Tuesday in Salida.

Steamboat Springs has snagged the coveted slot as the start host city of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge. The race will be run in August and the stages are a mix of new and prior host cities.

The 2015 USA Pro Challenge stages include:

You're not mistaken; stage 6 was intentionally left open for fan feedback, said race CEO Shawn Hunter.
"We're the first race in the world to ever involve our fans in selecting part of the route." Hunter said. "The feedback [from 2014] was phenomenal; it wasn't just a popular vote. It was fans weighing in on their communities their routes. And these are people out there riding the roads of Colorado year-round so often time we'll uncover a gem that we weren't aware of."

The 2014 USA Pro Cycling Challenge generated $130 million in economic impact for the state from the roughly quarter million spectators who traveled over 50 miles to attend, according to a sports research firm Sponsorship Science. More than 70 percent of spectators surveyed said they would return to Colorado in 2015 to watch the race.

Snagging one of the coveted slots as a host doesn't come cheap. For the 2014 race, host cities paid anywhere from $65,000 to nearly $1 million to host a stage start or finish.

"The advantage to being the host city for the start is that we get to prepare for the buildup of the USA Pro Challenge," said Loryn Kasten, spokeswoman for the Steamboat Ski Resorts. "So more than just being the day that the cyclists arrive in town or depart from town, we will have a whole weekend of excitement building up to it and have events and special activities and group rides and things that will really enhance the excitement about the start of the race."

Kasten said the financial side of the equation is a "community wide effort."

The 2015 race will also include the addition of a women's race for the first time after four races of male only cyclists.

"We're very excited about it. Some of the great riders, not only just in the U.S. but from Europe, probably will be racing here in Colorado next August," said race CEO, Shawn Hunter. "It would be the same week, much of the same roads.”

Steamboat's Kasten said they are still determining the time trial route within Steamboat, but elevating the town's profile is paramount.

"It's a great commercial to be able to show what it's like to come to Steamboat in the summer as well in the winter," Kasten said.

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