A good kind of traffic

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August 24, 2011 

This week, Colorado’s roadways will see traffic of an entirely different kind.

Touted as the most demanding bicycle race that will ever be held on American soil, the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge is making its way across the state this week, covering 518 miles of Colorado on two wheels.

It began Monday in Colorado Springs, travels to Salida, Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte, Gunnison, Aspen, Vail, Avon, Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge and Golden, with the finish in Denver. This race brings 128 of the world’s best professional cyclists from teams such as RadioShack, HTC, Liquigas and Garmin to Colorado to tackle the two highest passes in international cycling tours.

Really, in terms of the rigor of the course it’s already on-par with the Tour de France – or one could argue, even more physically demanding – because two 12,000-foot peaks will be included in the same stage of racing, a feat never before attempted in professional cycling. Events like this one are huge wins for Colorado, because the whole world turns its eyes toward us.

Not only do people travel from near and far to watch the athletes compete in person but it is estimated that 100 million people around the world will tune in to NBC and Versus will to watch the 25 hours of race coverage over the duration of the Challenge.

The visitors will be impacted by the beauty of our state, the wonderful accommodations, the great restaurants and the incredible people. And, we’re guessing they will come back or influence others to experience our state in the future. Put simply, this race is good for business.

The Chamber made a financial investment toward the Challenge when it was just getting started. “As Colorado’s strongest business advocate, we felt this investment was the right decision,” Chamber Chief Operating Officer Robert Blankenship said. “Events like these create commerce and bring our state together for the benefit of Coloradans.”

Television commercials for each of the host communities will be aired during the coverage in hopes of spurring economic activity in Colorado.

Shawn Hunter, CEO and co-chair of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge attended a reception hosted by Chamber affiliate the Colorado Competitive Council (C3) in May and to the Chamber’s board of directors in July, thanking the business community for its support and encouraging people to come and line the raceway to cheer on the riders.

I know when I participated in the Ride the Rockies race in June, those supporters made the tough moments on the bike much more bearable and often gave me the motivation to keep going.

So, hopefully each of you will find the time to enjoy this race, visit part of Colorado, and cheer on these incredible athletes.

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