New Colorado Classic race to charge road-side fans

Organisers say that ensuring survival of the race means it needs to be more financially viable

Taylor Phinney wins Stage 1 of the USA Pro Challenge in Steamboat Springs, CO (Casey B Gibson)
(Image credit: Watson)

The new Colorado Classic stage race this August 10 to 13 will charge fans to watch part of its four-day race.

The race will kick off with stages in Colorado Springs and Breckenridge, and end in Denver as part of the Velorama Colorado festival. A women’s race will run on August 10 and 11.

>>> Belgian race organisers consider making fans pay to watch races

For those starts and finishes in Denver, fans will need to pay an admission fee to watch the professionals.

“Our goal is sustainability and to achieve that, we need to change the sport of cycling by charging an admission fee,” said David Koff in a press conference yesterday.

“It’s time for professional cycling to move in the direction of financial success in the United States.”

Koff is the CEO of the RPM Events Group, which is organising the race. The group is securing a title sponsor and a handful of WorldTour teams.

RPM's plan comes on the heels of a recent survey by Belgian newspaper Het Nieuwsblad. It polled 22 race organisers in Belgium, with more than half saying that it would eventually be necessary for them to charge fans in order to make ends meet.

Rob Discart, from Tour of Belgium and Eneco Tour organisers Golazo, said that “a major change of mentality will be needed. People are so used to the course being free.”

Across the Atlantic, the feeling is shared. The Colorado Classic follows on the Tour of Utah and hopes to attract many, or more, of the same teams.

American teams like BMC Racing, Cannondale-Drapac and Trek-Segafredo should be some of the teams in the 2.HC race. Around six WorldTour teams are expected in the 18-team startlist.

A substantial sponsor and long-term plan will be needed to ensure the race's success. Over the years in the US, races have come and gone.

Once strong races like The Tour of Missouri, Tour of Georgia and Colorado's USA Pro Challenge have vanished despite cycling’s growing popularity.

Admission tickets for the Colorado Classic will range from $25 to 45 (£20 to 37). The upside is that the Velorama Colorado festival will include music groups Wilco and Death Cab for Cutie, and craft beer tents.

RPM is hopeful of pulling in 30,000 fans each day.

"You have to have a way to monetise this," said RPM chairman Ken Gart. "There has been no sustainable model that can be around for 10 to 20 years. And that is what we are trying to do.

"We have a concept that is really trying to build something, and it will have a fantastic social impact that is an exciting community celebration, but will also be sustainable."

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Gregor Brown

Gregor Brown is an experienced cycling journalist, based in Florence, Italy. He has covered races all over the world for over a decade - following the Giro, Tour de France, and every major race since 2006. His love of cycling began with freestyle and BMX, before the 1998 Tour de France led him to a deep appreciation of the road racing season.