Colorado is on course to be taken over by world-class cyclists next summer. In what's being billed as "the greatest bike race ever to be held on American soil," riders from all over the world will compete in the new Quiznos Pro Challenge from August 22-28, 2011. Yesterday, Quiznos officials, former Broncos tight end Shannon Sharpe, and Governor Bill Ritter announced that the cities of Colorado Springs, Salida, Crested Butte, Gunnison, Aspen, Vail, Avon, Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge, Golden, and Denver have been selected to host the seven stages of the race. It will take 120 riders through more than 600 miles of some of the state's toughest cycling terrain. "We will be the premier stage race in America here in Colorado with the partnership of Quiznos," said Ritter (via The Denver Post).
"A lot of guys will be motivated, and it falls perfectly on the calendar," Tom Danielson, a cyclist for Boulder-based Garmin-Transitions, tells VeloNews. "I would say that probably all the top stage racers will go to this race, minus a few guys that will go to [another race]."
The event is the result of more than a year of planning involving the governor's office and Lance Armstrong, one of the sport's biggest names (via The Associated Press). Colorado hasn't hosted a premier cycling event since the Coors International Bicycle Classic was phased out in 1988. Additional iterations of the race are planned for subsequent years, when other cities, like Boulder, will make a run at hosting.
Some town officials in southern Colorado are disappointed they won't get to host any stages in 2011, including Telluride and Durango. Telluride tourism officials believe race organizers wanted to make the logistics easier and couldn't work the Four Corners area into the mix. But they say they'll be in the running to host a stage in 2012, writes the Telluride Watch.