Friday, February 12, 2016
GOODBYE USA PRO CYCLING CHALLENGE? THIS VIDEO LIKELY WILL NEVER HAPPEN AGAIN....
There you have it. Today it was officially announced that after five years of struggle financially, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge has been cancelled for 2016. This has been coming for at least two years as the business model of the race really makes no sense. I was lucky enough to work with the LOC (local organizing committee) in the Vail Vallley the first two years the race rolled through there. People who ride bikes were pretty excited about it and everyone wanted to be a part of the action in some capacity simply because of the excitement generated with some of the best professional road cyclists in the world coming to Colorado to race. People volunteered jillions of hours of their time in every host city to make the race happen...hotel rooms, food, security, all huge expenses, were placed on the host cities and towns basically shut down the day of the race. You would think local businesses would flourish on these days, but most complained that no one could get to their store fronts from all the road closures, and people there to watch the race were not shopping, they were watching the race and moving on. The Schadens dumped an approximated 20 million into the race and got nothing in return, except maybe a few more Smashburgers eaten.
I went to dozens of meetings the first two years I was involved and I would sit there and ask myself "where is the money coming from and where is the return on investment?". The entire business model made no sense at all. Fans loved the race, but what were they doing to sustain it other than drinking and screaming at riders when they passed by?
In a day when pro road cycling is seen from outsiders as a pure freak show, with constant doping issues and motors in world championship bikes, who the hell is going to dump one dollar into supporting the sport many of us love...? Will this race come back as suggested by Shawn Hunter? It's gonna be a stretch. I'm not sure a USA based stage race has ever resurrected after shutting down from financial problems.
About ten year ago, I started making somewhat of a living announcing bike races. My long term goal was to always get to the upper echelon of this profession. I worked my ass off, and still do to make every event not just a race, but something much bigger. During the last two years I have committed to be really good at what I do and that is to announce events in the Rocky Mountain region and areas close by. The past year was a reality check for me, with two World Championship events in the USA, both World Cup skiing and the UCI Road Worlds, no offers came, all though there were rumors out there I was being considered for both events. I've taken on the assumption that my style simply is not pleasing enough or good enough to get the nod from those who make the decisions at the upper level. These types of opportunities will never come again for me as I'm rather long in the tooth these days, so I will concentrate on doing what I do best, which is what I've been doing all along. This race going away is kind of a final nail in my career advancement coffin,
The USA Pro Challenge has been a fun ride, but I think deep down inside we all knew the inevitable would happen, it is simple economics. Cheers Medalist, it was a fun ride, got to see a lot of great racing and great moments....onward.