By Mark Zalewski, North American Editor
Last year at this time it looked like the North American road racing scene was turning a corner – multiple races, both new and existing, were making the jump to UCI status. The result was to be the largest and most highly rated calendar of races on this continent in decades. However, the air was let out of the balloon as race after race (Tour of Utah, Tour of Connecticut, Montreal-Boston) announced postponement or cancellation, largely due to lack of funds. It appeared that American race promoters had bitten off more than they could chew.
For 2008 there are new races popping up on the UCI America Tour calendar, but the growth seems to be a little more realistic. Two new races are on the schedule, as opposed to the proposed six in 2007, one of which has already announced a title sponsor. Additionally, races that were in question seem to have new life – namely the Tour de Georgia and the Tour of Utah.
One of the most exciting new races is the Colorado Stage race, scheduled for mid-August. The race will bring top-level road racing back to the state that is a road cycling paradise and houses the U.S. governing body, but ironically does not have a major UCI event. The three stages over three days will hearken back to the top level of racing from twenty-plus years ago, starting with a road race from Breckenridge to Beaver Creek, a circuit race in and around Vail Village and a time trial up the old Coors Classic course heading towards Vail Pass.
John Dakin of the Vail Valley Foundation, organizers of the event, said that the race has been upgraded to a 2.1 status and that this idea has been brewing for many years. "Road cycling has been on the burner for the foundation and Colorado for a while now," he said. "Vail was an annual stop for the Coors Classic, the mountain bike world championships were here and we have always hoped there would be cycling in the future for us. Finally we are able to pull the trigger on it."
While the race does not yet have a title sponsor, something that was a problem for many races last year, the organizers have confidence based upon their many years of promoting world cup ski races and their partnership with Medalist Sports. "We will be working with Medalist Sports and we feel that combined with our organization it will be a strong. We run the world cup ski events every year so we bring sponsorship experience."