The USA Pro Challenge will not return for a sixth year, organisers of the UCI 2.HC race in Colorado announced today. Race CEO Shawn Hunter said organisers are targeting a 2017 return.
“The timing and work involved in this endeavor does not allow us to produce the event in 2016 and achieve all the goals of our important stakeholders. Instead, we have targeted 2017 to restart this iconic race,” he said in a statement released Friday afternoon.
The race lost father and son investors Rick and Richard Schaden following the 2015 event and organisers were apparently unable to find a new investment group or land a title sponsor that could keep the race afloat this year.
Hunter hoped to put together a broad-based ownership group rather than relying on a single family to support the event. Denver businessman Ken Gart, who leads Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper's "Pedal Colorado" initiative to improve cycling in the state, joined Hunter in the search for a new ownership group.
The Schadens owned the race since its inception in 2011 but had trouble securing a title sponsor or new investors to offset the annual losses. The race reportedly lost $2 million in 2015 and the Schaden’s total investment over five years was estimated to be more than $20 million.
"While forming a new ownership group for the event, we have been focused on ensuring the longevity of the race, expanding its coverage, and aligning it with other United States cycling events and activities," Hunter said in a statement released by the race. "Building a solid platform of this type takes time and the efforts of many diverse stakeholders, and while we will not be conducting America’s Race this year, we are diligently working to complete the necessary pieces for 2017.
"We have made great strides over the past months and look to re-launch when we finish this phase of the process," he said. "We thank all of our world-class Colorado communities, sponsors and benefactors that have and continue to help us achieve the goal of producing the best race in the world. A special thank you goes to Rick and Richard Schaden who originally launched the race in 2011. Without their vision and support we would not be here."
Organisers have been pursuing 2016 host cities to prepare a route for the sixth running of the race, but today's announcement brought that search to an end.
BMC's Rohan Dennis won the 2015 race. The USA Pro Challenge also added a three-day women's event last year. Two-time Olympic gold medallist Kristin Armstrong won the overall.