Pro Bicycle Racing Returns to Colorado-Where it all Began!

Bob Smith

Six days later the race ended in Denver with American Levi Leipheimer in yellow. The race visited the ski towns of Breckenridge, Aspen and Vail on a six day journey through the Colorado Rockies crossing many of our high passes. Phil Liggett and Paul Schwenn provided the live TV commentary on Versus with Bob Roll doing interviews and color commentary. This was a first for bicycle events in Colorado. 

At the time of the Challenge, Anne and I were on a bicycle tour in the northwest of the US, which we had planned prior the Pro Cycling Challenge being announced. From Seattle I programmed our DirecTV DVR with an App on my Android phone to record all the live coverage of the race. Once home my first priority was to watch all seven episodes. Our son, Bob Jr., had purchased the Red Zinger/Coors Classic 3 DVD Set of the TV Special and Documentaries from 1977 through 1988 at the Breckenridge Stage of the Pro Cycling Challenge. My next priority was to view the complete set of DVDs. 

We moved to Colorado Springs in the May of 1985 from Dallas where we started bicycling in 1983. The years 1985 and 1986 were the hot bed years of international bicycle racing in Colorado. Colorado Springs hosted the World Cycling Championships in early September 1986. Many of the top European Teams participated in both the 1985 and 1986 Coors Classics in preparation for the 1986 Worlds. The Coors Classic drew its best ever international field of riders including Bernard Hinault, Greg Lemond, Steve Bauer and others. The Lemond and Hinault battles in 1985 and 86 Tour de France carried over into the Coors Classic. In those years we would travel to Grand Junction, Aspen, Vail, Denver and Boulder essentially following the race once it entered Colorado. The Women’s Coors Classic was one of few stage races for women. The Women’s Coors was a shorter venue and didn’t travel outside of Colorado. The Coors Classic drew in the road racers and the Colorado Springs Velodrome Gran Prix drew in track racers. Men and women Olympic and World Champions came to compete and practice at the fastest track in the world. World track records were often set and broken in the same day. The US boycott of the 1980 Olympics followed by the Russian boycott of 1984 Olympics set stage for some competition. 

The Colorado Springs Cycling Club was founded in 1986. Several of our foundering members worked as volunteers at the Worlds, including Anne and I. These were exciting times for bicycling in Colorado Springs. Our son took up road and track racing. He became quite fearless on the track and traveled to junior nationals several times. In 1991, Colorado Springs answered the call to host the Junior Worlds when Trexlertown, PA backed out. CSCC members volunteered for both track and road events. Additionally, we were the host organization for the Swiss National Team. 

During the early years of the Red Zinger Bicycle Classic (1975-1979) Colorado Springs hosted a stage. If you watch the 1977 Red Zinger video segment on the first disc of the Red Zinger/Coors Classic “Where It All Begin” DVD set you should be able recognize Cascade Avenue. In 1979 the Red Zinger Classic was sold to its producer Michael Aisner for one dollar.   To learn more, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Zinger_Bicycle_Classic . Michael Aisner brought in Coors Brewing Co. as the sponsor and the event became the Coors Classic (1980-88).  To learn, more go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coors_International_Bicycle_Classic .  Michael Aisner went onto become the CEO of Walt Disney. 

From our club’s inception we have been involved in international bicycle racing. Many of our members joined the volunteer ranks to support the Pro Cycling Challenge. Thank you for contributing to the success of the event and welcoming world class cycling back to Colorado. 

I recommend you watch the “Where It All Began” 3 DVD set from beginning to end. These videos tell an exciting story of bicycle racing in Colorado. You will see bicycle and bicycle racing advancements over the years and the Colorado effect on USA Cycling.
 

25th Anniversary Issue - Vol 4 Issue 5, 1 October 2011

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