Telluride Vies to Host Stage of 2013 USA Pro Cycling Challenge
by Samantha Wright
Nov 15, 2012 | 1972 views | 1 1 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print

TELLURIDE – The Telluride Tourism Board has put the finishing touches on a proposal for Telluride and Mountain Village to once again host a finish stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in 2013.

“It’s due Friday, and it’s done!” said Michael Martelon, TTB President, on Tuesday.

The proposal is very similar to last year’s application and uses the same “micro-site” online platform that Telluride’s 2012 Local Organizing Committee (LOC) created for its successful bid. “However, it addresses a great deal of learning that took place from our perspective on hosting the event this year,” Martelon said.

Kiera Skinner, TTB’s director of marketing and public relations, did the “heavy lifting” in preparing the proposal, Martelon said. Other key players who were involved in pushing the project across the finish line included Telluride Mayor Stu Fraser, Town Manager Greg Clifton and his Mountain Village counterpart Kim Montgomery.

Medalist Sports, the owner of the Pro Challenge event, will make an announcement in early December about the route for next year’s stage race, planned for Aug. 19-25, 2013.

If Telluride wins a spot on the route, Marleton said, a larger LOC will then be formed to focus on the 2013 event. The 2012 LOC consisted of a diverse group of 17 individuals from Telluride and Mountain Village, many of whom would likely be willing to serve again.

Telluride’s decision to bid for a stage of the 2013 Pro Challenge came on the heels of detailed analysis about the pros and cons of the 2012 event, which although successful logistically and in terms of global publicity for the Telluride area (television coverage of the race aired in 170 countries around the world), brought in far fewer people than promoters had promised.

A study released by Medalist Sports last month stated that attendance numbers surpassed 1 million for the second annual USA Pro Challenge Professional Cycling Race, and that the race brought an estimated $99.6 million in economic impact to Colorado. In Telluride, however, the general consensus seems to be that not much of that economic impact was enjoyed.

Meeting in late October, the Telluride Town Council was divided on the matter of whether to bid for a stage of the Pro Challenge in 2013, voting 4-3 to pursue the application process.

Councilor Thom Carnevale was among those who voted nay. “People were prepared for crowds of 20,000,” he said. “I think a fairer estimate would be between 3,000 and 4,000. One local restaurant prepared for 300 breakfasts and served eight. I am not sure, in a cost benefit analysis, that it really was anywhere near positive for the community.”

Councilor Brian Werner took a much more positive view. “The event is one of those examples of an investment that has returns which are not as tangible as the outlays,” he said. “The PR, both at the local and national level, was huge, and if you ask any festival organizer if their first year was flawless and a great success, they would say no. This was our first year doing it, and we spread ourselves too thin, but we could adjust.”

The 2012 Telluride LOC, in a debrief document presented to council, noted that many of the smaller, more remote host towns this year, including Telluride, over-prepared for the event, considering the actual numbers of visitors that showed up.

The report stressed that municipalities in general should have more negotiating power with race organizers and that “more refinement is needed to differentiate the needs and demands upon smaller mountain towns to reflect the smaller visitor base.”

Across the state, several of this year’s Pro Challenge host communities including Durango and Boulder have opted not to submit a bid for a USA Pro Cycling Challenge stage in 2013. On the Western Slope, however, Montrose will once again join Telluride in bidding for a stage. So, most likely, will Crested Butte and Gunnison, Marleton predicted.

With Durango out of the running, it is anyone’s guess whether the organizers of the prestigious cycling event will opt for a route that sweeps through this part of the state next year.

“You truly never know,” Martelon said. “I don’t believe anyone can look at a map and say where the different stages would be. We are cautiously optimistic.”

Should Telluride be fortunate enough to be selected to be a host community again, Martelon said he and fellow organizers have plenty of ideas about how to help things go more smoothly, and more profitably, the second time around.

“There are a lot more profit center opportunities than we realized this year,” he said. “If we do get it, we will work with other LOCs with larger populations – like Denver – to have more of an opportunity to create profit.”

Deep-pocketed cycling fans on the Front Range, for example, may engage in bidding wars on coveted items such as this year’s Stage 1 yellow winner’s jersey, or a chance to ride in a chase car following the peloton to Telluride next year.

Tapping into these sorts of revenue streams will hopefully ease the financial burden borne by both Telluride and Mountain Village in hosting the event.

As requested by Medalist Sports, the two communities contributed a total of 550 room nights for the 2012 Pro Challenge. “Not one of those rooms was comped (by lodgers);  they were all paid for,” Martelon said.

Each town contributed $37,500 toward a total lodging price tag of $112,500, according to a Town of Telluride report on the event’s fiscal impacts. Telluride’s total capital outlay for hosting the event was $92,640.

Clifton reported in his post-event analysis that other host communities had significant capital outlays as well, ranging from $330,000 for the City of Boulder to $175,000 for the Town of Vail. Durango, which hosted the beginning of Stage 1 in 2012, estimated its total outlay to be $500,000, according to Clifton’s report, but the city itself contributed only about $50,000 of that amount, with the rest being raised by the community.

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November 18, 2012
According to a recent news story on the DP, Durango wants out ... and did not submit a proposal to be a host city next year. This decision was apparently a "business decision" related to the over half a million dollars budgeted with very little to show for it regarding direct spending.

I believe Telluride was affected in a similar way ... while there might possibly have been 5k spectators, my guess is that at east 2k were locals or from the region. This is a far cry from the 25k floated by the race organizers.

The race organizers can always adjust their course, but if Telluride were to somehow fall into Durango's position last year as the start of the race, then apparently this role requires substantially greater funding. Did Telluride Town Council anticipate this possibility when submitting it's 2013 proposal? If not, perhaps it ought to be looked at more closely to see exactly how much extra funding/commitment would be required?

If it is deemed substantial, I believe it ought to go to the voters of Telluride ... town meeting mode would be my suggestion. Maybe use the Pavilion as a venue ... after all, it was intended as a multi-use facility. Regardless, I suppose we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.