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Return of pro level stage racing in Colorado?

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Boeing said:
anyone old enough to see the Badger and LeMond in CO in 85?

Saw the Badger and LeMonster, but it was in CA, not CO. Caught the stage thru Davis, the criterium in Sacramento, the stage to Truckee (where Hinault won when Phinney Pere sprinted for the wrong line), the road stage to Reno, and the Reno crit--which was notable for the number of drunks coming out of the casinos and the huge crash on the last turn.
 
Oct 8, 2009
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Colorado

Everything that has been said about Colorado here applies primarily to the front range. It also applies to EVERY other major population center in Utah, Oregon, Washington, California, and yes, even Europe, although the Europeans are generally less prone to uncontrolled sprawl.

Like it or not, the reality is that this will not get done without Lance's backing and Lance will want it in his new home of Colorado, so sorry to the people in the NW but your out of luck in this one.

The key is to keep it to western Colorado where there are lots of roads with very little traffic. I like the idea of adding onto the Tour of Utah. You could easy plan a route from Salt Lake over the wasatch, along the southern edge of the Uintah's, into colorado near rangely, down to fruita, over to Aspen (gotta make Lance happy) maybe include the road from Grand Junction to Naturita, over to Moab, the La Sal loop road, up through central utah and back to Salt Lake. These roads would have very little traffic, especially in the fall (the only reasonable time of year if you want both mountains and desert). Also the towns in this area have an ungodly number of empty hotel rooms between summer and ski season and will quite frankly beg for the business in the fall. They are all also used to large cycling groups coming through with RTR, BToCO, etc. Early October during the peak of the Aspen color would be ideal, it would show the world the beauty and diversity (mountains, forest, desert, etc) of this area that is unrivaled anywhere.

TFF, this is my very first post but I've been reading yours for a long time. You have a right to your opinion. So do I. In my opinion western CO and eastern UT blow the doors off anywhere in the cascades for something like this. The cascades have almost no roads above or below timberline and thus TV coverage would show nothing but trees. Its beautiful but not nearly as diverse and without the wide open vistas that make TV coverage of the european tours so beatiful. You have too many trees!

I don't think the distance from population centers will be a problem. Bring a world class field to a world class course and the world will show up. None of the area I've mentioned is more than 5 or 6 hours from either Denver or Salt Lake... How many people live within 3 hours of Alp de Huez?
 
Mar 10, 2009
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lstomsl said:
The key is to keep it to western Colorado where there are lots of roads with very little traffic.
Lots of roads??? While western Colorado has great roads with some impressive climbs, there are no alternate routes upon which you can divert regular traffic. As I said upthread, RTR (et al) have done wonders to the mindset of the Western Slope; Communities have re-thunk their aversion towards cyclists. But for a major road race, miles of US (not Colo nor County) roadways would have to be shut down. That is problematic to say the least. (If you have doubts, check out my fantasy Queen Stage, requiring closing of both US160 and US550)

Not that Colorado couldn't host some epic stages, just that it would take Herculean efforts. And further, that other states, including Oregon, and Washington, and California, (and Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, and Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, and Iowa, South Dakota, Wisconson...) could also host Grand Tour worthy stages. For goodness sakes, both Brasstown Bald and Mt Washington stack up well with the classic European climbs - and they arent even out west.


ps If western CO were Europe, Imogen, Engineer, and Cottonwood passes would be paved... and populated.
 
Alpe d'Huez said:
Just as example, here's what Morgul-Bismarck looked like back in about 1987:

morgul.jpg


And here's a recent snapshot taken near there:

13011715.jpg

That's on Hwy 36, close to Interloken and Flatirons crossing.
 
Apr 21, 2009
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Cottonwood

benpounder said:
If western CO were Europe, Imogen, Engineer, and Cottonwood passes would be paved... and populated.

Rode Cottonwood on BTC this year (road bikes) - It was a great road unpaved, would make for great racing. And the descent to Buena Vista was one of my favorite descents ever (I was one of a few who made it down before the deluge).

If they can make rolling road closures happen there can be a great race. Need to stay away from the Front Range!!!
 
Oct 8, 2009
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Lots of roads is relative but compared to the front range, yes, there are lots of roads that have little traffic. Since you live in Steamboat, think about Gore Pass. I've personally ridden it in October without seeing a single car. There are other possibilities as well. A race in the mountains would be difficult anywhere. There are very few mountain passes that have convenient alternate routes or there would be no reason to build them in the first place. I don't understand why you are so opposed to the idea... Certainly there is no reason from a traffic or road closing standpoint to explain it. If you watch the European races alot of it takes place on highways and major city streets. Unlike RTR the pro peloton passes through in half an hour at the worst, for most stages only a few minutes until the very end.

I do agree that there are many other places in the country with epic, beautiful terrain. Most would have the same problems as western Colorado but Lance doesn;t want the race there, he wants it in Colorado. Sorry, it won't get done without him.

benpounder said:
ps If western CO were Europe, Imogen, Engineer, and Cottonwood passes would be paved... and populated.

Have no idea what you point is here (would the population make it easier?)but thank God I do not live in Europe and still have access to 4wd roads through unpopulated wilderness....

You can oppose this race if you want on whatever grounds you'd like but to those based in reality, there is no real reason it couldn't be done. I'm sure most towns in western Colorado would be happy to close their roads for a few minutes in order to bring several thousand people to their towns and showcase them to the world during the off-season.
 
Aug 4, 2009
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Speaking from a "Western Hemisphere perspective", IMO this should be the most interesting thread on this forum. I would gladly step up to give my time and dollars to see a Grand Tour developed for this part of the world. After all (and like most of the posters to this forum) I am fat and old and don't ride like I used to, but I do still love the sport that gave me an identity.
 
Mar 10, 2009
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lstomsl said:
Have no idea what you point is here
That is evident.
...but thank God I do not live in Europe and still have access to 4wd roads through unpopulated wilderness....
If Italy did not have such restrictive labor laws, I would live in the Aosta valley. Alas, to grant a US citizen license to practice engineering in their country that might take a job away from an equally qualified Italian is... understandable(?). But more to the point; hosting road cycling races in Europe is much easier for two very important reasons. One, they have a population amicable to road closures. Two, they have wonderful minor routes (meaning that they can much more easily redirect necessary vehicle traffic than can we - hence the Imogen, Engineer, Cottonwoood quip).

You can oppose this race if you want on whatever grounds you'd like but to those based in reality
Well based upon your complete misread of my comment, just who is based in reality is questionable.

...there is no real reason it couldn't be done.
...well yes, there are reasons why it couldnt be done. That is a reality I'm well familiar with. (I've been onboard for attempts to bring more FIS races to CO. Sometimes it is not a matter of what can be done, but what the community wants to do.) Yes there are impediments, challanges which us cycling enthusiasts must overcome. But if we want to see it, we - yes you and me and many others - must work for it.

I'm sure most towns in western Colorado would be happy to close their roads for a few minutes in order to bring several thousand people to their towns and showcase them to the world during the off-season.
You are sure? if so, get your community out there and do it!

Anecdotally, there is a tremendous World Cup Downhill course at Telluride, rivaling the Hahnenkamm, but no-one ever thought it worth persueing. There is a Holomogated SG course at Purgatory - good track - yet it has been used only twice (iirc).
 
May 7, 2009
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benpounder said:
There is a Holomogated SG course at Purgatory - good track - yet it has been used only twice (iirc).

Are you by chance referring to Lower Hades? At least that's what the run on the south side of the main lift used to be called. I know several years ago, some religious groups complained about the names of some of the ski runs at Purgatory and some names were changed..
 
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lstomsl said:
I don't understand why you are so opposed to the idea...
I'm most decidedly not opposed - had you read all my comments in this threat, you would likely have seen that.
Unlike RTR the pro peloton passes through in half an hour at the worst, for most stages only a few minutes until the very end.
Missing an important aspect of major stage races... If the peloton is together on a flat stage, yes they can pass by in under a minute. But even on a flat stage, it is not unusual for there to be two to six groups on the road, seperated by seconds, minutes, and sometimes tens of minutes. And that is a flat stage. Major moutain stages usually see time gaps of 20 to 30 minutes, and yes, even 50 to an hour, gaps.

On top of that is the tour caravan. The promotional vehicles way off the front, and the long long line of support vehicles following. In order to plan properly for a major stage race, the organizers would have to have a reasonable worst case scenerio in the mix. That means on every stage, (if your are doing rolling closures) you have to plan on shutting down the highway for three hours. That is any traffic up front that is lagging, any traffic that is behind and pressing, and any traffic caught in the middle.

But there are further complications. You mentioned Gore Pass - great road with little traffic (not very steep thou) - but that is just one small part of any stage. On either side you have to access either US40 or CO131, and US40 is the only continuously paved east-west road between I70 and I80. Given that any race in western Colorado is there to take advantage of our topography, there is another mountain pass that should be included. Sure you could come up under Steamboat and take on equally nice but equally un-steep Rabbit Ears, or venture west on Twenty-Mile, but your route (if starting in Kremling) is still in the 80 to 100mile range. Which additional road do you have to schedule a 3 hour shut-down for, remembering that that shut-down is contingent upon the pace of the peloton.

The point being, a point to point road race of the caliber I think both you and I would like to see here, is a logistical nightmare. In terms of likely vehicle traffic, Independence Pass is much like Col du Galibier. The difference is that in Europe there are many Galibier like roads. We have very few major mountain passes here that are primarily recreational access to the high country.

Personally, I would love to see top tier pros racing from South Fork to the top of Red Mountain (259km w/4270m of vert gain). But shutting down both US160 and US550 for a day would be a hard sell.
 
Apr 21, 2009
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Giro

benpounder said:
Personally, I would love to see top tier pros racing from South Fork to the top of Red Mountain (259km w/4270m of vert gain). But shutting down both US160 and US550 for a day would be a hard sell.

I saw some pretty big traffic tie-ups while trying to watch the Giro in 1999. There are fewer alternate routes in Colorado, true, but I think the major difference is that Cycling's not a mainstream sport in the US so there is less tolerance/acceptance. Still think it could happen and hope it does.

You mentioned Gore and Rabbit Ears as not being very steep (5-7%-ish?), and I think that's pretty typical of Colorado. As I believe most of the roads were built to relatively modern engineering standards, as opposed to being goat/smuggler trails that later got paved. There are exceptions, but for the most part you will not find many climbs with wildly varying, steep gradients like some in Europe. Not that it can't be a good race, but the type of climbs might suit some riders over others, much like Alps vs Pyrenees vs Dolomites differences... And there's the altitude...
 
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Rupert said:
IAs I believe most of the roads were built to relatively modern engineering standards, as opposed to being goat/smuggler trails that later got paved.
Without question! Roads in the western US are paved, by and large, because they are worthy thoroughfares. It makes little sense to cut a road (+7%) if you want it to sustain year-round commercial traffic. On top of that, the whole topography of western USA (mostly) is so different than the classic European routes. There, the monuments start off from ancient valley floors (500-1000m); here we start off from the elevations of the top of their climbs. In other words, they are climbing up to places like Steamboat, Aspen, Telluride, etc., from a valley floor that has been etched out by millions of years of erosion.

So not only do we face topographical impediments, but as we agree, we face societal barriers. Western US could put on a race that would have many of the Euro-centric riders quivering in fright (altitude), if only we can convince our neighbors to set aside (mostly erroneous) preconceptions.

[myedit] Deagol, message recieved.
 

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