From Daily Camera
Organizers call it a pause, say they will keep looking for new owners — and expansion opportunities
The USA Pro Challenge will not happen this year.
Organizers of the race, which would have counted 2016 as its sixth year hosting the world's top cyclists pedaling across the state, need more time to establish a new ownership structure and secure long-term investors. Pushing the race to 2017 gives organizers more time to enlist national sponsors and potentially add new Pro Challenge races across the country.
"What we don't want to do it put a Band-Aid on this. We are going to take a pause and focus," said Shawn Hunter, the longtime chief of the race. "Unless we can pull this off in a manner like we have for the last five years, we think the prudent thing is to hold off and launch in 2017."
Since October, Hunter has led a volunteer team in a search for community and national sponsors for the high profile race.
The USA Pro Challenge's founders, restaurant chain owners Rick and Richard Schaden, relinquished control of the race in late September, providing Hunter a chance to build a new ownership model not based on a single family.
"One of the important pieces is to allow for continued growth of the Pro Challenge but also expansion and the introduction of new races over the next three to five years," he said. "Here is an opportunity to create a platform that has a handful of events in key locations that are attractive to both national sponsors and broadcasters. A one-off cycling event is exciting, but if it's part of a bigger organization or a bigger vision, that's what we think is key to long-term success."
Colorado will anchor the new series of Pro Challenge races, said Hunter, adding that the East Coast is "the next logical step" for expansion of the Pro Challenge race brand.
Hunter said there are three pillars needed to support professional bike racing in the U.S. right now: an ownership group committed to the long term, a national network of sponsors and support from communities that host the race.
He is close on the first two and, in Colorado, community support is strong. . .
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