The Boulder City Council last week gave initial approval for professional racing to return to the iconic racing town for the first time since 2012, giving the nod to Colorado Classic race organisers to proceed with a plan and return for a final OK in the future.
The Colorado Classic began as men’s and women’s event in 2017 but switched to a women’s-only UCI 2.1 race this year. The four-day 2020 race is scheduled for August 27-30, with Boulder hosting stage 3 on August 29.
The Colorado town, which is home to numerous professional riders and the hub of several cycling publications, holds iconic status among the US cycling community since hosting stages of the Red Zinger Mini Classic and Coors Classic in the1970s and ‘80s.
Boulder last hosted a professional race in 2012 when the former USA Pro Challenge visited for stage 6, a 165.6km day that started in Golden before riders made their way to Boulder for several laps through downtown and a final climb up Flagstaff Mountain.
Australian Rory Sutherland, riding for UnitedHealthcare at the time, won the stage with a late solo move ahead of Astana’s Fabio Aru. Garmin’s Christian Vandevelde was the eventual overall winner that year after a final time trial in Denver.
The Boulder stage was not without controversy in 2012, as local residents expressed concern about the race’s impact on the natural areas on Flagstaff. Spectators had to secure passes online before the event to line the climb and attend the finish. The extra steps didn’t deter turnout, however, as fans massed 10 deep from top to bottom, creating one of the most dynamic days of racing in recent US Cycling history. The short circuits through Boulder were also massively attended.
Colorado Classic organisers approached Boulder about hosting a stage for the 2019 race, according to the Boulder Daily Camera, but the City Council denied the application because the dates conflicted with several other events and the annual move-in day for University of Colorado students.
The deal to bring pro racing back to Boulder next August is not final, but city staff have recommended approval of a special event permit application, according to the Daily Camera.
The request is asking the city for up to $30,000 of in-kind support from the city for the race, likely in the form of police and other public services necessary for logistics, as well as a request for $10,000 worth of hotel and lodging support from the local visitors bureau, according to online journalist Shay Castle.
Colorado Governor Jared Polis previously sent the City Council a letter endorsing the idea of professional racing’s return to Boulder, according to the Daily Camera, writing in part that, “The race is advancing women’s pro cycling with harder routes, unprecedented financial support, and daily live TV streaming coverage that puts women’s racing on a global stage. … I believe the Colorado Classic is a perfect fit for Boulder.”
Chloe Dygert (Sho Air-Twenty20) won the inaugural women’s-only Colorado Classic in 2019, sweeping all four stages in Steamboat, Avon, Golden and Denver before going on to win the UCI Road World Championships individual time trial title in September.