Organisers of the Colorado Classic announced Tuesday that they have cancelled the 2019 men's race in order to focus on and expand a women's-only stage race that will offer a harder stages, a bigger prize purse and live streaming. The race is scheduled for August 22-25.
"With women's cycling, we saw the greatest opportunity to fulfill our mission to create a world-class race in Colorado that is socially impactful," claimed Ken Gart, chairman of race organisers RPM Events Group. "By creating one great race instead of two average ones, we can shine a bright light on Colorado and pro women's racing while effecting meaningful social change."
The women's event will be part of both the UCI calendar and USA Cycling's Pro Road Tour. It will once again feature four stages, and organisers promise to host the top teams and riders from around the world. Organisers will offer more challenging routes with longer race distances, better start times and stipends for teams. It has positioned itself as a run-in to the 2019 UCI Road World Championships in Yorkshire in September.
"The Colorado Classic showcases both the beauty of Colorado and the remarkable talent of these compelling athletes," said Bob Stapleton, chairman of USA Cycling and UCI Management Committee member. "Both USA Cycling and the International Cycling Union (UCI) are proud to support this outstanding event that focuses on women who are exceptional cyclists. I applaud RPM for their commitment to building a world class event for women."
RPM Events Group hosted the inaugural Colorado Classic in 2017 with a men's 2.HC, four-day race, which was expected to fill the gap in the calendar left behind after USA Pro Challenge folded. Top teams made the trip to participate in a block of races that included the Tour of Utah and the Tour of Alberta, a Canadian UCI race that was cancelled this year.
The event drew in some WorldTour teams, including BMC, EF-Education First-Drapac, Trek-Segafredo and UAE Team Emirates. BMC's Manuel Senni won the first edition of the men's race, and Sara Poidevin (Rally Cycling) won the women's two-day race in 2017.
Gavin Mannion (UnitedHealthcare) won the second edition of the men's race this August, while Katie Hall (UnitedHealthcare) won the women's event that had increased to four days, with two stages in Vail and two in Denver.
"I am really excited to hear that the Colorado Classic women's race is growing into a four-day UCI event," said Hall, who is contracted with Boels Dolmans in 2019. "Colorado is such a beautiful state and such a hotbed for American cycling that it seems like the perfect place to host a challenging UCI stage race that will feature the women."
Organiser have also taken pride in their decision to do away with the use of hostesses during podium ceremonies, and instead celebrated male and female icons such as Colorado's Connie Carpenter Phinney. They expanded the race last year to be more in line with the men's stages and used an all-female team of announcers to call the race.
"From the inaugural race of the Colorado Classic two years ago, the organisation has stood behind women," said Kristin Armstrong, former world champion and Olympic gold medallist.
"The announcement today of a women's-only UCI stage race truly shows the dedication and commitment the Colorado Classic has to women in sport," Armstrong said. "I was fortunate enough to have my start in a women's-only event back in 2002 at the HP Women's Challenge. I know first-hand the tremendous amount of impact this will have on women's cycling by creating and providing opportunity for spectators and riders across the world."