Aspen and other Colorado communities wait for USA Pro Cycling Challenge selection of 2012 host cities

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenNovember 11, 2011

Despite the snow collecting on Aspen's slopes, many leaders here have biking on the brain.

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is expected to name its roster of host cities by the end of this month. Eleven cities hosted the inaugural race in August, including Aspen, which hosted the “Queen Stage” of the 518-mile odyssey through Colorado's historic places and breathtaking high mountain passes.

George Hincapie won the "Queen Stage" of the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge in Aspen.
Stefanie Deutsch Michejda

Aspen is bidding to host the event again, along with co-applicant Pitkin County. The event was wildly popular across the state and in Aspen, which boasts a passionate cycling contingent as well as Tour de France legend and part-time resident Lance Armstrong, who started the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. A survey of Aspen businesses showed 95 percent of respondents supported the race's return to the city.

Organizers of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge reported the weeklong bicycle race attracted more than 1 million spectators and brought $83.5 million to Colorado. Cycling fans spent more than $67 million on lodging, food, transportation and entertainment, according to an economic impact study conducted by a global sports research firm. Despite all the cash flying around, Aspen officials say they ultimately lost a little money hosting and providing support for the event. Even so, they want the race to come back.

They are not alone. Cycling fever was contagious at the other host cities for the 2011 event — Avon, Breckenridge, Crested Butte, Colorado Springs, Denver, Golden, Gunnison, Salida, Steamboat Springs and Vail — and Colorado cities that were either snubbed or didn't apply this year are making strong cases as to why the race ought to roll through locales like Boulder, Durango and Grand Junction.

It's no wonder why. Aside from the direct spending spurred by the USA Pro Cycling Challenge's spectators, sponsoring businesses and media, extensive TV coverage can stimulate tourism for the state as viewers are taken through a tour of its landscape along with race announcers' glowing commentary. An international audience of more than 150 countries and territories watched American Levi Leipheimer win the inaugural competition in August.

The 2012 race is scheduled for Aug. 20-26.

Check out this year's Aspen finish and awards ceremony in these videos shot by Marek Michejda:

This story first appeared on Inspirato.

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