Pro Cycling Challenge To Tour Lake County TWICE!
Alright, Leadville and Lake County, get ready for some fast-paced, action-packed, international cycling to come through the area over the next couple of days! The 2015 USA Pro Cycling Challenge is underway across Colorado, marking its fifth year this August 17-23. What better way to celebrate that milestone than with a double-down through Lake County! That’s right this internationally renowned bike race will be coming through the Leadville area TWICE: tomorrow, August 19, and again on Thursday, August 20.
Stage 3 of the Pro Challenge will travel from Copper Mountain to Aspen, with a Turquoise Lake loop and quick sprint through Leadville along the way. This leg of the race will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 19.
For those who’ve been around Colorado long enough to remember the former Coors International Bicycle Classic race, you may recall that the race offered criterions and mountain stages all over Colorado, including Leadville. In fact, it was this throwback to an old Classic route that initiated the conversation to bring this year’s Pro Challenge down that familiar lake road, once again.
Here’s what the pros will encounter on the Turquoise Lake Road
Then on Thursday, Aug. 20, Stage 4 of the race leaves Aspen and take on Independence Pass for a second time. This leg will stay in southern Lake County, passing through the village of Twin Lakes for the second time as it continues south on Highway 24 towards Buena Vista, eventually ending in Breckenridge, via Hoosier Pass through Fairplay.
The 2015 USA Pro Challenge kicked off in Steamboat Springs yesterday, Monday, Aug. 17 and will make its way through another eight host cities for the race finale in Denver on Sunday, Aug. 23.
Call it that special edge when it comes to being centrally located in Colorado. Or the advantage of being surrounded by internationally renowned resorts, but one way or another, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge has had to come through Lake County almost every year. Keep in mind that the eight host cities from Steamboat Springs to Denver invest a considerable amount of money and resources to bring the race through their towns. After all, the economic benefit created from visitors coming to each community to watch all of the race action is considerable.
Last year’s race – the fourth USA Pro Challenge – drew more than 1 million spectators. And tallied a whopping $130 million economic impact from the roughly quarter million spectators who traveled to Colorado to watch the race. In fact, it was estimated that 27% of spectators traveled from out of state contributing to the lodging and restaurant industry’s bottom line.
So what’s the cost to the local taxpayer?
“There is no cash outlay for Lake County for the Pro Challenge, like the host cities incur,” said Lake County Commissioner Mike Bordogna in an interview with Leadville Today. “However, there is extensive planning with law enforcement and the county road and bridge department.”
It should be noted that those expenses are being tracked by Lake County Office of Emergency Manager Mike McHargue and will be reported to the public after the race. In the meantime, McHargue reminds folks that traffic and road closures will be in effect over the next couple of days and residents (commuters!!) should be aware and plan accordingly. Road closure details HERE.
As of press time, there was no notice of any local efforts underway to promote the downtown area, much like the efforts in 2012. Spectators are encouraged to come and watch the race, so here’s what Leadville Today suggests. And remember, at certain points in time, motorists will NOT be allowed access to certain areas, so plan accordingly.
To watch the race in historic downtown Leadville, plan to get there no later than 11 a.m. This will give you plenty of time to find a good viewing spot, take in some shopping, and grab a tasty lunch before the peloton hits Harrison Avenue. According to race organizers, the lead pack of cyclists should be on main street ” at the earliest at 12:45 p.m,. and at 1:02 at the latest.
For spectators who prefer watch the action atop Independence Pass, the forest service has the following recommendation: Parking on Independence Pass is extremely limited. Day-use parking will be allowed between mile markers 56 – 66 on top of Independence Pass. Please use existing pull-offs, trailheads and day-use areas for parking only.
The action goes by pretty quick, but seeing these elite cyclists towered over by Leadville’s beautiful historic buildings, or atop the majestic mountain tops of Indy Pass, provides an image unmatched at any other point in the race. And remember to share your pictures on the Leadville Today Facebook Page or via Twitter (@LeadvilleToday).