Can a Party Revive Pro Cycling in the U.S.?

June 21, 2017

Kimberly Kinchen, business network writer

Image: Reid Neureiter

Professional road cycling’s sprawling field of action has never fit the arena model for spectatorship, and it’s no secret that in recent years U.S. cycling events have performed poorly for organizers.

Now, a small group of philanthropic investors has set out to change all that. This August, RPM Events Group launches the first Velorama, a major cycling event that overlays a street party onto the four-stage Colorado Classic. With this reimagining of U.S. Pro Cycling, RPM hopes to ensure the sport’s long-term presence in Colorado, and will reinvest all event revenues back into the organization.

A UCI-sanctioned competition, the Colorado Classic features four days of men’s races and two days of women’s races and is attracting some of the best riders in the world. Setting up as a spectator along the route remains free to all comers in Colorado Springs and Breckenridge, and for much of the route into Denver. But in Denver, ticketed admission opens up the festival for those who want prime home stretch views up to the finish line. Or for those who just want to be at the center of the party in the city’s RiNo Art District.

Image: messycupcakes

Three days of music makes the extravaganza. Headliners include Wilco and Death Cab for Cutie, with great supporting bands hitting the main stages throughout the weekend. The festival marketplace will include hundreds of local vendors from Denver Flea, and the independent beer, wine, and cider makers of Drink RiNo. A Bike and Lifestyle Expo rounds out the party.

“The start-finish areas are being built to be magnets of activity before, during and after each race,” said David Koff, RPM’s CEO. “Our goal is to have you come out for one experience, and to stick around for many, many more.”

The ticketed festival is a new approach for a sport that has struggled with financial viability, and investors and organizers think Velorama could be a groundbreaking model for making pro cycling sustainable in the United States. “We know—I have said this to all of our partners—if we are successful, and we think we have a very good shot at doing so, that we will be viewed as innovators in this city and in this state,” Koff told the Denver Business Journal.

TV coverage on NBCSN and live streaming on NBC Sports Gold will extend the race audience by millions, another way organizers say the event will elevate the sport, and Colorado as a cycling destination.

“We have assembled a group of community-minded investors as well as a strong leadership team whose sole mission is to broaden the enthusiasm for cycling,” Ken Gart, chairman of RPM, said in a statement. “This new bike series will provide communities with sustainable, engaging cycling events for participants and fans to enjoy.”

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