International bike race set to use Westside streets

       Plans are “shaping up very well” for the Quiznos Pro Challenge international bicycle race that will use Westside streets for much of its “Prologue” time-trial stage in Colorado Springs Aug. 22.

Lance Armstrong (in front) is shown in an undated road race. His "daydream" led to the development of the Quiznos Pro Challenge event that will open with a time trial "Prologue" in Colorado Springs.
Courtesy of Kate Faricy

       So said Chris Carmichael, founder of the Westside-based Carmichael Training Systems and chair of the event's local organizing committee, in an e-mail communication this week.
       The full race will be from Aug. 22 to 28, covering 600 miles in all. An estimated 128 professional riders from 16 teams will compete on courses between or through different Colorado towns each day. The finish will be in Denver.
       According to Carmichael, the Prologue will be “a very short stage that establishes the first race leader. Racers will compete one at a time over a fast and exciting course that showcases the Garden of the Gods and downtown areas, and the fastest rider to cover the distance will become the race's first leader and earn the right to wear the leader's jersey for the following day's stage.”
       According to Kate Faricy, a Colorado Springs resident and race publicist, the exact course will not be finalized for another month; as part of that, a special event permit is needed from the city.
       The route being sought is five miles in length, starting at the Garden of the Gods Visitor Center, continuing through the Garden and onto Ridge Road to Pikes Peak Avenue. From there, according to preliminary information provided to the Council of Neighbors and Organizations (CONO), riders would follow Pikes Peak Avenue - a city-designated bikeway - to the downtown, with a jog along the way through Old Colorado City.
       Randy Shafer, technical director for the Prologue, added that teams will start arriving in Colorado Springs “a day or two” beforehand so their riders can start preparing.
       Dave Munger, president of CONO, spoke highly of the event, adding his appreciation that race organizers are going to the trouble of contacting neighborhood associations in the route areas and even are planning to go door-to-door, in some cases. “I'm pleased they're trying to be good neighbors,” he said.
       Welling Clark, president of the Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN), said he has seen just cursory information so far and still needs to talk it over with the OWN board, but agrees with Munger about the personal touch the race organizers are taking.
       The idea for the race came in a “daydream” by seven-time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong while riding in the Colorado mountains, states a press release from Quiznos (a toasted sandwich chain based in Denver). Armstrong followed through by meeting with then-Colorado Governor Bill Ritter.
       “The event will reinvigorate the legacy of the Colorado-based Coors International Bicycle Classic, which stood as the pre-eminent international pro-cycling event in North America from 1979 to 1988,” the release states.
       Carmichael, who has been Armstrong's coach for many years, said he does not know yet “what role Lance may play in the event itself, but I'm sure more information about his involvement will be available in the coming months.”
       Volunteers are welcome. According to Faricy, applications are available online at quiznosprochallenge.com.
       Having the opening event in Colorado Springs is an opportunity to bring positive publicity to the area, she said. “It can set the tone for the entire race. It's where a lot of cameras will be. And this is such a cycling community.”
       In addition, she said, plans are being made through the newly formed, nonprofit Pikes Peak Cycling Society to hold a “series of events for cyclists of all types” in conjunction with the Prologue.
       Asked what the future might hold should the Prologue be a success, Carmichael replied, “We'll have the opportunity to evaluate and bid on bringing future stages of the race to Colorado Springs… There's a lot of work to be done before Aug. 22, but I'm confident that we have the right people working on this project, we have the support of the civic and community groups, and we're going to have a tremendous event.”

Westside Pioneer article