Lance Armstrong announces new Colorado cycling race

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenAugust 4, 2010

As part-time Aspen resident Lance Armstrong wheeled his bike through the mountains just outside of his home here, he had an epiphany: Why not bring back an elite international cycling race to Colorado?

So he called up Gov. Bill Ritter, and the two were soon lunching over the idea in Aspen.

This was last year when they reminisced about the last elite cycling race in Colorado, the Coors Classic, which had a nice ride from 1979 to 1988. Colorado has the perfect geography and residents who are passionate about cycling, but finding a sponsor would be tough hill to climb, they agreed.

On Wednesday morning, Armstrong and Ritter shared the same stage in Denver, where they announced the birth of the Quiznos Pro Challenge, which they've scheduled for Aug. 22 to Aug, 28, 2011.

“What started out as a 'daydream' of mine on a long ride outside of Aspen will now become a reality," Armstrong said in a press release. "This race, although new, is already rich in history as is Colorado's storied cycling background – a perfect way to honor our past champions and highlight our future ones."

Locations for the stages have not been formally announced, other than it will include Boulder and Denver, but there has been widespread speculation that the race will revive some or all of the legendary stages of the old Coors Classic, which included a Maroon Bells stage near Aspen, a Copper Mountain to Vail stage, the time trial in East Vail and the renowned Tour of the Moon near Grand Junction.

Local officials say they have talked about bringing a stage for the race to Aspen, but nothing is final.

"I personally observed the Maroon Bells stage years ago and it was beautiful," Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland, a cycling enthusiast, wrote in an e-mail to Real Aspen. "I have asked both city staff and county to start thinking about this. City staff will get an application for hosting the event. I have been hearing from Mr. Armstrong and Gov. Ritter about this all year and encouraged them to make a state race happen. I know Gov. Ritter has met with Mr. Armstrong on this here in Aspen several times.

"We have not been consulted about route choice but I understand Mr. Armstrong is seriously interested in becoming more active in the community and that bodes well for our chances," the mayor added. "We are adjacent to a formidable and scenic pass that would be great [for the] event and we have hosted crits before for pros. I hope we will be chosen for both."

Lance Armstrong

Real Vail reported last month that the Vail Valley Foundation was working hard to ensure that Vail is also part of the race, which many people expect will attract elite riders from around the world. The event will reportedly be sanctioned by USA Cycling and the International Cycling Union (UCI).

Armstrong will be a partner in the event, according to a statement from Denver-based sandwich maker Quiznos, but the seven-time Tour de France winner's exact role won't be defined until a later date.

"This is a great victory for Colorado,” Ritter said in a press release. “The Quiznos Pro Challenge promises to be a major pro-cycling event, bringing significant economic benefit and attention to our state. I want to thank my partners, Quiznos and Lance Armstrong for all of their hard work to turn this dream into a reality.”

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