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Stage race returns for eighth ride

Breanna Nalder leads the pack late in Stage 3 of last year's Steamboat Stage Race. Nalder won the general classification standings for the three-day stage race. The event returns this weekend.
Joel Reichenberger

Steamboat Stage Race

Saturday: Stage 1 — 13.7-mile time trial from Meadows lot along U.S. Highway 40 and back to town on County Road 14 with a finish on River Road.

Sunday: Stage 2 — Road race mostly on Twentymile road, ranging between 46 and 80 miles, depending on the division, starting downtown and finishing on 13th street.

Monday: Stage 3 — Downtown Steamboat criterium logging 0.87-mile laps in a loop consisting of Oak, Fourth, Pine and Eighth streets, starting at 7:30 a.m. and finishing at 5.

— It wasn’t any kind of head-to-head battle, and it was certainly no rivalry, but it’s hard not to notice.

Steamboat Stage Race

Saturday: Stage 1 — 13.7-mile time trial from Meadows lot along U.S. Highway 40 and back to town on County Road 14 with a finish on River Road.

Sunday: Stage 2 — Road race mostly on Twentymile road, ranging between 46 and 80 miles, depending on the division, starting downtown and finishing on 13th street.

Monday: Stage 3 — Downtown Steamboat criterium logging 0.87-mile laps in a loop consisting of Oak, Fourth, Pine and Eighth streets, starting at 7:30 a.m. and finishing at 5.

There were two bicycle stage races in Steamboat Springs last year, and now — and for the foreseeable future — there’s one.

Corey Piscopo couldn’t help but reflect on some of the events that have come and gone since he started the Steamboat Stage Race in 2009.

It’s since become a Labor Day weekend staple in Steamboat.

“That first year, Labor Day was pretty quiet,” he said, “and, there weren’t a lot of other bike events over the course of the year.”

Since then, other bike events have come, and a few have gone. The Steamboat Stinger put down roots on a weekend earlier in the month, and events such as the Enduro X race have toyed with being big, multi-weekend events for locals and a focused one-weekend that draws some of the top names in the game.

The US Pro Challenge — the seven-day stage race that attracted Tour de France winners and some of the top cycling teams in the world — changed named three times since Piscopo started his little race. It rocketed into existence, came to Steamboat Springs and closed Lincoln Avenue three times. It has now faded away and is officially no more as of this summer.

The Steamboat Stage Race, however, goes on, and it will go on again starting Saturday for another three days of stage race action.

“It’s really funny to look at the bigger picture, Bike Town USA, and see how it’s fluxed up and down, and we keep trucking,” Piscopo said.

The event starts at 11 a.m. Saturday with a 13.7-mile time trial on the eastern edge of Steamboat Springs. Riders will start from the Meadows parking lot, ride into the county and return on County Road 14 for a finish in town on River Road.

Sunday brings a road race of between 46 and 80 miles, taking place south and west of Steamboat, mostly on Twentymile Road.

Finally, a downtown-Steamboat criterium will wrap things up Monday, sending riders on multiple loops of a rectangle course between Fourth, Eighth, Oak and Pine streets.

That day’s action — starting at 7:30 a.m. and reaching a finale with the 4 p.m. men’s pro field — will offer the best chance for locals to see the racing action.

Bringing racing to Steamboat has been part of the motivation for Piscopo and has kept him going when bigger races — ones with infinitely bigger complications — have come and gone.

The event isn’t a nonprofit in the legal sense, but Piscopo said it is in the practical sense. One year, there was enough left over to donate a little more than $4,000 to local charities, but usually, he breaks even, at least in terms of money. There’s no compensation for the hours he puts in — 20 or 30 per week in the weeks immediately leading up to the start — but many more sprinkled throughout the year.

There’s room to expand, he said. With a little more marketing, he could see the event drawing 500 riders and being a highly thought of race across the nation, rather than just across the region.

“There’s definitely potential there,” he said.

For now, though, he’s happy with it as is, drawing a stable and skilled field every year, earning the respect of its riders and, more than anything, continuing to exist.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9


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