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Coronavirus

Colorado Classic women’s pro cycling race is called off because of coronavirus concerns

Organizers pull the plug on the fourth running of the four-stage, all-women cycling race across the state as the state tightens restrictions to control recent surge in the pandemic.

Cyclists cross the Denver finish line in the Colorado Classic in 2019, the first year the race featured only women athletes. (Provided by Colorado Classic)
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Organizers on Thursday pulled the plug on the Colorado Classic race, set for August.

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The decision to cancel the fourth running of the four-stage race comes less than six weeks after organizers announced a revised, made-for-TV race model that replaced expos and start-and-finish festivals with virtual events and online streaming of the Aug. 27-30 race.

Race organizers have spent the last two months working with public health departments in Pitkin, Eagle, Boulder and Denver counties, as well as state health officials, on a plan to host just a peloton of 16 international racing teams and support crews. No crowds. No events. Just racing. 

“We had really great momentum in that regard,” said Lucy Diaz, the chief operating officer of race owner RPM Events Group. 

Earlier this week, Diaz and her team were meeting online with team directors and athletes. 

“We started to get an inkling of concern from the peloton about the health and safety of the riders,” Diaz said. “We always said we wanted to do this in a safe and healthy manner and as soon as we heard that concern, it gave a reason to step back and ask ourselves if we were doing the right thing for the athletes and the right thing for the sport.”

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

This year’s race was set to begin in Snowmass Village before moving to Avon. Boulder was hosting the third stage before the final event in downtown Denver. The race pivoted to all women racers in 2019, hoping to not just grow women’s cycling but establish a viable model for pro-cycling races in the U.S., where many pro races have foundered.

On Thursday, organizers met with sponsors VF Corp., Gates Corp. and 1stBank with a plan to cancel the modified race. The partners supported the decision, Diaz said. 

“Is it worth it to bring people from all over the country to race across Colorado right now?” Diaz said. “We don’t think so. This is really the most positive situation, despite the fact that we are canceling the event.”

Diaz stopped shy of promising a return of the race in 2021, citing the unclear horizon as the coronavirus pandemic spikes in what appears to be a second wave.

“What do events look like post-COVID? Will we have a scenario where we can bring spectators back in and have an expo? Everyone we spoke with today is supportive and open to a conversation for 2021.”

Diaz said organizers are closely watching the virtual races of this month’s Tour de France, with 23 men’s teams and 16 women’s teams racing stages remotely on their stationary bikes. Other races are scheduled in the fall in Europe, where the pandemic appears to be in decline. 

“We are not throwing in the towel right now and we will want to keep that door open for 2021 and continue what we built last year and the year before,” Diaz said. 


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