It’s official, 31 years after the Coors Cycling Classic, big time professional bike racing is returning to Colorado in 2011 with the Quiznos Pro Challenge. Toasty! The announcement was made by Governor Bill Ritter and Lance Armstrong on Wednesday morning on the steps of the Capitol in Denver. Details were sketchy, but here’s what we know:
Starting and ending in Denver, the 7-stage race is planned for August 22-28, 2011. Yes, that unfortunately overlaps with the established and growing Larry H Miller Tour of Utah, on the NRC. On the UCI calendar, the event should have a 2.1 level, putting it on par with the Tour de Beauce, the defunct Tour de Georgia, and one step below the 2.HC Amgen Tour of California. A 2.1 level race on the UCI America Tour, can have a maximum of 50% of team be ProTour levels, and Pro Continental, Continental and National teams can also participate – all up to the organizers.
The event will be managed by Medalist Sports LLC, the same management company for Tour of California.
Rumors had been flying about a new ‘Tour of Colorado’ race ever since Armstrong met with the Governor last year. But that name was registered with the Colorado Secretary of State by Sand Creek Sports, Inc. in April of 2005, and a Trade Mark application was filed with the US Government in August 2009. For the past three years, the Tour of Colorado is a series of existing Colorado races.
Quiznos did not specify the length of their commitment to the race, only saying “long term”, and “years to come”. What that means is up for everyone to interpret.
What about a women’s race? Nothing official, but it seems that Connie Carpenter-Phinney is involved in trying to make it happen. For two years, in 2008 & 2009, the Amgen Tour of California included a Women’s Crit as part of the event, at the 2009 press conference, Andrew Messick, president of race organizer AEG Sports, stated, “We need to continue to showcase women’s professional cycling; we need to give sponsors the opportunity to watch and appreciate the competition and athleticism in both the men’s and women’s race. We’d love continue to grow this race.” Plans were rumored to expand the women’s race to 3 stages but instead, no race was on the schedule in 2010; until local organizer ProjectSport put together the Sacramento Grand Prix.
And what if Ritter is no longer in office? What is Amstrong is indicted? What is Quiznos pulls out its sponsorship money (or doesn’t renew)? What happens to the race? As Joe Lindsay, of BoulderReport, pointed out races need to be able to survive on their own merits – go read his great take on these and more questions.