America's toughest stage race is now officially the Tour of Utah, because the nation lost the USA Pro Challenge (nee Pro Cycling Challenge) today as the race announced it no longer had sponsorship to continue. The race's remaining organizers said that they hope to secure funding for 2017, and given that we are talking about a majestic event in the country's greatest (or second-greatest) state for cycling, one cannot rule out a return.
Still, it's a dark day for American racing. For us old guys, the lure of a Colorado race dates back to the 1980s, when the 7-Eleven guys were making their mark and European stars were coming to the US for the Coors Classic. The Rocky Mountains seemed like an ideal place for such a high-profile event, if you didn't think too hard about the requirements of a race (hotels, communications). And now, you can think as hard as you want and find that the Rocky Mountains are, in fact, an excellent place for a bike race.
But it isn't stars and roads and profiles that make a race go on; it's sponsorship, and the USAPC(C) didn't have enough of it. According to the CN story the family behind the event lit $20 million on fire over the last five years in the name of a majestic Colorado bike race. That's enough, they say, and who are we to argue? It also paints a grim picture of the race for future investors, so if the USAPC(C) does return, it'll be a cheaper version, whatever that could mean. Perhaps public dollars could be found, since public benefits (e.g. tourism) are the best argument for having a race at all, but
the current governor is a conservative and they tend to be against spending I don't actually know anything about Colorado politics.
Damn, and we'd just gotten our first foreign winner too -- a sign that the race had truly arrived. Well, our first foreign winner since Raul Alcala in 1987 anyway. Sigh...