Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Decision to Create the Colorado Stage

An international cycling event has been on the Vail Valley Foundation’s radar screen for quite some time. The board of directors has been very supportive of adding a summer athletic event to the organization’s collection of internationally renowned winter competitions including the Birds of Prey Downhill Race Week and Honda Session (and many others). And road cycling, along with golf, has always been high on our list of potential options.

The Vail Valley has a long history with cycling, both road and mountain, dating back to the days of the Coors Classic. I was fortunate enough to run the Vail segment of the Coors Classic prior to joining the Vail Valley Foundation, and have first hand knowledge of the excitement and celebration that a major road race brings to a community, as well as to the racing fans.

When I joined the Foundation, I headed up all of the organizing efforts for our mountain biking events, including the 1994 and 2001 UCI World Mountain Bike Championships. While mountain biking is obviously a different sport from road cycling, we made a concerted effort to bring the racing to the people, rather than expect the people to find their way up the mountain to the racing. We routed the cross-country course through Vail Village, similar to the Coors Classic criterium days, and I am pleased to say that we achieved the desired results, with tremendous crowds and a wonderful atmosphere.

When discussions and negotiations ended on another proposed Vail-based road cycling event in 2005, the Vail Valley Foundation picked up the ball, working closely with Sean Petty and USA Cycling, to create the concept of the Colorado Stage International Cycle Classic. We got far enough along in the process in 2006 to have USA Cycling submit a tentative September date for the UCI calendar, but were forced to withdraw that proposal.

In 2007, we made the firm commitment for an August 2008 race. We're working diligently toward revitalizing the spirit and enthusiasm of the Coors Classic days while also relishing the fact that we are helping to bring another major international road race event to Colorado and the Vail Valley. We hope you join us for what promises to be an outstanding cycling event this August!

- Ceil Folz, President of the Vail Valley Foundation

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