Added amateur ‘race’ (entry fee $10,500) won’t lengthen road closures for Springs stage of Pro Cycling Challenge

       A recently announced plan by the USA Pro Cycling Challenge to add an amateurs element to its second annual seven-day race in August will not mean longer road closures, a Challenge spokesperson said this week.
       The concern arose after the original press release on the new Carmichael Training Systems (CTS) “Race Experience” stated that the amateur riders - paying $10,500 for the priviledge - would get to “eat, sleep and live like professional cyclists for all seven days of the race,” including leaving the starting line “just hours before the professionals.”

American racer David Zabriskie eyes his Colorado Avenue route during the Prologue event in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge Aug. 22.
Westside Pioneer file photo

       CTS, a Westside business owned by Chris Carmichael, is one of the lead founding and organizing entities for the Cycling Challenge, which last year attracted many of the world's top professional riders.
       Colorado Springs is scheduled Aug. 24 as the Stage 5 finish city for this year's Challenge, with riders completing a roughly 120-mile leg from Breckenridge by taking the avenue through Manitou Springs and the Westside to the finish line downtown.
       According to Jim Rutberg, editorial director of CTS, the Race Experience “does not impact the road closure plans for the race in any way.” Speaking for CTS' amateur team, he elaborates in an e-mail, “We will be traveling on open roads with regular traffic. Neither the race organization nor the police will be shutting down any roads early for the benefit of our team, but there may be times when we will be allowed to use roads that have already been closed to general traffic based on the race organization's timeline.”
       The Race Experience is not intended as an actual race, but “an opportunity for at most a few dozen amateur cyclists to get an insider's view on the physical demands of a pro cyclist's lifestyle,” Rutberg adds. “They will ride each stage as a team and feel the pressure that comes from being chased. They will eat their meals with the pro teams and stay in the team hotels. They'll have pro mechanics tending to their bikes on the road and between stages, and they'll have professional soigneurs providing post-stage bodywork to help them recover in time for the next stage. And they'll have VIP access to the stage finish areas. It's a way for very fit fans of cycling to gain a unique understanding of the sport they love.”
       Another race spokesperson, Nicole Okoneski, added that part of the proceeds from the individual $10,500 payments will be used to cover race organization costs.
       Regarding the extent of road closures Aug. 24, no time spans have been announced yet, but Rutberg said the professional racers will be accompanied by a “rolling enclosure.”
       During last August's Prologue event between the Garden of the Gods and downtown - which kicked off the first annual Cycling Challenge - Colorado/Pikes Peak Avenue was closed for about five hours from the downtown to Ridge Road, which had impacts on schools, businesses and general north-south travel.
       Race officials said afterward that 100,000 people watched the race; Chris Carmichael estimated in a December interview with the Westside Pioneer that he anticipates 200,000 this time.

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