The third edition of the Colorado Classic cycling race won’t include men, and it won’t include Colorado Springs.
Officials announced the host cities Tuesday, with Steamboat Springs, Avon, Golden and Denver being named.
The four-stage race, set for Aug. 22-25, will be limited to women — a rarity, to say the least, in the sport.
“These partnerships are paramount in the success of the event,” Lucy Diaz, COO of race organizer RPM Events Group, said in a press release.
In 2017, the inaugural Colorado Classic kicked off in Colorado Springs, with stages for men and women. The course took riders on laps through Garden of the Gods and featured a downtown finish. And while rain hampered the conclusion of the men’s race that year, it didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of many city leaders surrounding the event.
So when it came time to select a route for this summer, RPM Events Group again reached out to The Colorado Springs Sports Corp. But an already packed calendar doomed any hopes for a renewed relationship — at least in 2019.
“I just told them, ‘We have so much on our plate. We don’t have the size of staff to pull this off in addition to our core events,’ ” said Tom Osborne, CEO of the Sports Corp.
The nonprofit already is working in tandem with Springs-based USA Cycling to put on the Masters Road National Championships in August at various locations around the Pikes Peak region.
“When we got that event, we didn’t know if we had the bandwidth to bring in the Colorado Classic too,” Osborne said.
This will be the first time that Steamboat, Avon and Golden have played host to the Colorado Classic. However, all three were routinely involved in the now-defunct USA Pro Challenge, which ran from 2011 to 2015.
In the final year of the Pro Challenge, three-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong won the overall title in Golden, becoming the first and last female champion of that event.
Armstrong’s triumph was just another chapter in a long, rich history of women’s cycling in Colorado. In the 1970s and 1980s, the Coors Classic served as the largest women’s stage race in the world and boosted the careers of riders such as Jeannie Longo and Connie Carpenter-Phinney, who both went on to win Olympic gold medals.
“That race put women’s cycling on the map, and not only in the United States,” Carpenter-Phinney told The Gazette in 2012. “It set a standard that didn’t exist before that in the world.”
Organizers of the Colorado Classic hope to set a similar standard. The upcoming race earned a 2.1 designation from the sport’s governing body, making it one of only 13 such events in the world. Route details will be released in late June. And the plan is to provide live streaming coverage each day that’s syndicated around the globe.
Count Osborne among those who will be watching, with an eye toward 2020.
“We always consider events,” he said. “You just have to evaluate the bid fee, how much staff it will take and weigh it all with the economic impact. We’ll check out the race this year and see how it goes.”