Host city spotlight: Denver
The 2019 Colorado Classic® presented by VF Corporation will feature its most challenging course yet with a mix of tough mountain and swift urban circuit routes through Steamboat Springs, Avon, Golden, and Denver.
Now a women’s-only event, the pro road race will have something for every racer and fan, with high-altitude QOMs, breakneck sprints, six-miles of gravel, tight technical street racing and one of the most treacherous climbs in Colorado. The course will cover a total of 220 miles (354kms) with 13,667 feet (4,166m) of climbing while showcasing Colorado’s iconic terrain and bike-friendly towns.
For a third year in a row, the fourth and final stage of the Colorado Classic will be hosted in Denver on August 25th. Colorado’s state capital, Denver is a hub for good food, drink and metropolitan activities while also serving as gateway to the Rocky Mountains.
Unlike previous finales of the Colorado Classic, this year’s final stage will start and finish at Coors Field, but as always, this sprinter’s course is going to be a crowd-favorite as it moves through the populated 17th Street and City Park, and is sure to offer some fast-and-furious racing with intermediate sprints and final bonus seconds up for grabs.
We spoke with Matthew Payne, Executive Director of Denver Sports Commission, on what makes Denver a return favorite for fans and riders alike.
Colorado Classic: Denver hosts a number of sporting events every year, what makes hosting the Colorado Classic stand out to you? How are the crowds?
Matthew Payne: Denver was a proud host of the US Pro Cycling Challenge for its entire duration, so when Colorado Classic brought professional cycling back to the city, our fans were thrilled. Denver is home to a huge cycling community and an even bigger community of overall sports fans, all of whom bring excitement to events like Colorado Classic. They are welcoming, enthusiastic and engaged, and it’s always so great to see people lining the streets and filling the restaurants and businesses along the urban route to cheer on these elite international athletes.
This year, with an all-women’s field and the most international and competitive roster of riders in race history, Colorado Classic is on the leading edge of professional cycling, and we think Denver makes for a perfect final stage.
And why’s that?
We love sports in Denver – we’re home to seven professional sports teams, we host national and international sporting events on an annual basis and visitors and residents love taking advantage of all the outdoor sports and recreation Denver and Colorado have to offer. We have 300 days of annual sunshine, which makes it really easy to be outside; and we have a very walkable (and bikeable) downtown, perfect for both riding and spectating. We also have 11,000 hotel rooms, one of the country’s top culinary scenes, astonishing arts and culture and the country’s largest city parks system – all of which the riders get to experience in the Denver stage of the race and viewers can enjoy while they are here.
What kind of bike riding does Denver offer in its vicinity?
Denver was one of the first cities in the world to offer a citywide bike share program, Denver B-cycle, which now has more than 800 bikes at 87 stations around the city. We also have an extremely avid urban biking community here, and we offer 85 miles of paved, off-road bike trails in the city as well as several miles of protected bike lanes downtown. True to form, we also offer guided biking tours to breweries, art galleries, historic neighborhoods, city parks, restaurant hot spots and more. Denver is also just a short ride from the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, which provide endless opportunities and trails for biking.
In your opinion, what's the best place for a post-ride beer and a pre-ride coffee?
We have 70 breweries in the city, and more than 100 in the metro area – so no matter what neighborhood you end your ride in, you’ll be sure to find a craft brewery.
Our artisan coffee makers take as much pride in their craft as our brewers, and there are plenty of local shops to be found all along the race route – from small, local favorite cafés in RiNo (River North) Art District, where the festival and start/finish lines are, to popular brunch spots with delicious food and coffee (and patios for viewing) along 17th Avenue, where the riders will zoom past on their way to City Park.
Please give me your best pitch as to why people should come visit Denver and watch the Colorado Classic there?
Denver is the perfect place to watch the Colorado Classic – it’s very easy to get to, with more than 200 nonstop flight routes around the country and the world – and there’s so much to see and do in the heart of the city, while the race is going on as well as before and after. Plus, the final stage in Denver is so exciting – it’s your opportunity to watch four days of professional cycling culminate in a thrilling finish, right in an urban epicenter with thousands of other fans.
To learn more about Denver and plan your Colorado Classic Stage Four visit , check out www.denver.org. To ride stage four of the 2019 Colorado Classic in and around Denver, you can download the Strava route here. To plan your full Colorado stay, check out the Colorado Classic on Colorado.com here.
*Photos courtesy of Visit Denver.