Jim Clark: USA Pro Challenge shines the international spotlight on Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

Jim Clark: USA Pro Challenge shines the international spotlight on Steamboat

— Unless you’ve been out of town or don’t have a cyclist in your home, you know by now that the USA Pro Challenge is coming back to Steamboat Springs for the third time in five years this August. But this one is different. Quite a bit different.

In the 2011 and 2013 races, Steamboat Springs served as either a start or finish destination. This year, all eyes will be on Steamboat as we host the overall start for the seven-stage race.

On Monday, Aug. 17, the race begins with a circuit race though the Yampa Valley. This will give residents and visitors a better chance to see the racers both at the start and finish of the circuit as well as along the yet-to-be-announced route. On Tuesday, Aug. 18, stage two departs from Steamboat for a finish at Arapahoe Basin.

Pretty cool, eh?

Instead of a one- or two-day event, the overall start will cover the better part of a week. Instead of coming the night prior to the circuit, teams will arrive on Tuesday, Aug. 11. On Wednesday, media will begin to arrive and stay through either the first or both stages.

This is the biggest opportunity we’ve had for both visitation and exposure in the race’s five-year history. More than 4 million viewers tune into TV race coverage in the U.S. and twice that number worldwide in 175 countries.

Simply put, it’s the best of all available options for us to participate in the race. Congratulations to Jim Schneider and Kara Stoller for making the case for the biggest event in Colorado to begin right here.

The flip side is this: It doesn’t come cheap. Our responsibility for rooms, meals, hospitality and other events is much larger than before. The city of Steamboat Springs has stepped up to the plate, as has our generous lodging community. Now, we have to raise the rest of the money to pull this off and make Steamboat Springs shine in the international spotlight.

In the short time I’ve been here, one of the things that has impressed me is the generosity of this community. The support for nonprofits here is admirable and remarkable. We certainly don’t have the resources of some other mountain communities like Aspen and the Vail Valley, but we can play on their level when it counts. And this opportunity is one of those times.

I agreed to chair the Sponsorship Committee for our Local Organizing Committee (LOC, as you’ll soon be hearing). I don’t know a lot of you yet. I’m not from here. But I do know that I love this place, and I want this effort to be successful and have a lasting impact on our economy and our reputation.

We don’t have the budget to buy international or even national advertising, so this is our best shot at that kind of exposure. And we’re going to need your help.

If you can consider being a sponsor, let us (or me) know. If you can’t, we’ll have some very fun events for you to participate in to help us get across the finish line.

And I know we can do it.

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