Local promoters courting bike race stage

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Proposed route for 2016 USA Pro Challenge leg would cross Jefferson and Clear Creek counties

By Beth Potter

Bicycle racers could climb from Golden to Evergreen and Echo Lake before cruising down through Idaho Springs in one stage of the 2016 USA Pro Challenge, if local promoters get their way.

National race organizers usually plan the seven-day bike race two years in advance, said Michael Raber, a bicyclist and race promoter who lives in Clear Creek County.

Local race promoters planned to meet with Pro Challenge representatives this week to pitch a one-day race stage in Jefferson and Clear Creek counties, Raber said. Local promoters are proposing a stage race route that starts in Golden and finishes outside Jefferson and Clear Creek counties, he said.

In general, organizers of each race stage put together enough sponsorship money to pay for the hotel rooms needed to house racers, administrators and some media as well as security/traffic control. Cost estimates for a race stage range from about $250,000 to $500,000, depending on the city.

“It’s a fair amount of money, and the second part is that there has to be enough lodging in the host city to accommodate the racers,” Raber said.

Promoters have created a map with elevations and distances of a proposed route that includes Jefferson and Clear Creek counties, Raber said. Elected officials in Jefferson and Clear Creek counties have expressed support for the race, he said.

The proposed local race stage would start in Golden and roll through Evergreen to Upper Bear Creek Road. From there, racers would climb up Witter Gulch Road to Colorado 103, take a left to Echo Lake and pedal down to Idaho Springs, Raber said. Witter Gulch Road currently is being paved.

Pro Challenge racers typically ride 90 to160 miles per day over several mountain passes, Raber said. From Idaho Springs, the local race route could head to Winter Park, Breckenridge or Vail, he said.

This year, the seven-day bicycle race is scheduled for Aug. 18 to 24. The 2012 race brought an estimated $99.6 million in economic benefits to the state, according to a study done by global sports research firm IFM North America.

Entrepreneur Rick Schaden owns the privately funded race. Schaden also owns Broomfield-based Beyond Aviation LLC, a rocket research company, and is a co-founder of the Smashburger restaurant chain, based in Denver.

This year’s USA Pro Challenge race route by day:

• Aspen circuit race 

• Aspen to Crested Butte

• Gunnison to Monarch Mountain

• Colorado Springs circuit race

• Woodland Park to Breckenridge

• Vail individual time trial

• Boulder to Denver