One of the most welcomed features of the revamped Colorado Classic, which this year is a women’s-only 2.1 event, is the increased prize list that is $5,000 greater than the men raced for last year.
The total prize purse in 2019 is $75,000, a record for US women and a significant increase from 2018. The women on Thursday’s post-stage press conference dais definitely took notice.
"It’s an honour to be recognised as the professional athletes that we are,” said Hagens Berman-Supermint rider and team owner Lindsay Goldman.
"For this race to set the bar for other events around the world and throughout the calendar, showing a belief in female athletes and the work that we put into our training and our entire career as athletes, it means a lot.”
The Colorado Classic came onto the US scene in 2017 as a men’s UCI 2.HC race, offering a token two days of criteriums for the women. The races were not UCI sanctioned, and they appeared to be an afterthought.
The Colorado Classic continued with the men last year but added two more stages for the women, including a circuit race and time trial in Vail, a road stage to Denver and a final criterium.
This year organisers nixed the men’s race to focus on the women, sanctioning the race as a UCI 2.1 event and taking the start to Steamboat Springs. Stages over the next three days will include Avon, Golden and a downtown Denver circuit race on Sunday.
Pumping up the prize purse for the women is right in line with what organisers are trying to accomplish in building a stand-alone women’s event that can grow into a spot in the sport's top echelon.
"While it’s nice to take home a bigger prize purse, for me, personally, what it means in the bigger picture is that we’re being recognised by this event and the supporters behind this event that made it happen, having them acknowledge that we are worthy of the same prize purse as the men receive for this effort, it’s huge,” Goldman said. “It means everything.”
For Brodie Chapman (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank), third on the stage, the increased prize list took on more practical implications.
"For me it makes a really big difference to my life,” the Australian said. “It’s very awesome to be recognised as the athletes that we are. And it helps me buy fancy brunches on the weekend, and that’s a huge deal.”
Goldman said the prize purse – and the respect it indicates from the race organisers – is a huge motivator.
"It makes me feel like I want to show up and race as hard as I can,” she said. “I want my athletes to race as hard as they can. I want them to promote the #WeRide hashtag. I want them to promote the sponsors that have supported this event and show our gratitude for the opportunity we’ve been given. And, yeah, the prize purse is pretty great.”