Colorado Classic is now a women-only pro cycling race

Colorado Classic is now a women-only pro cycling race

Rather than dividing limited resources on men’s and women’s races, organizers of the Colorado Classic announced Tuesday that the four-day event next summer will be a standalone women’s race.

In a news conference at the state capitol, incoming Gov. Jared Polis said the reconfigured event had the potential to become “the premier women’s race in the Western Hemisphere.” Ken Gart, chairman of RPM Events Group, said the move would allow organizers to put on “one great race instead of two average ones.”

The races, which are expected to attract 20 teams, will be held Aug. 22-25 at locations yet to be determined.

Organizers see the opportunity to create a women’s race with international impact. In the past, the women were overshadowed by the men in races that were run the same day. Gart said next year’s prize money of $75,000 would be $5,000 more than the purse for the men’s races this year. The women’s purse this year was only $20,000.

“We love men’s cycling,” Gart said. “We’re proud of the work our team has done the last couple of years, and I think we were very innovative, but our ability to impact men’s cycling really was very minimal. Our potential to impact women’s cycling around the globe, we think, is really dramatic.”

Race director Sean Petty, who was race director of the women’s races the past two years and serves on the board of USA Cycling, said organizers would be able to design stages for the women that are longer and more challenging than in past years.

“This is a monumental day for women’s cycling,” Petty said. “It’s a huge paradigm shift. Normally, when you hear about a race going away, it’s the women’s race. This is flipping the script. I couldn’t be more excited.”

Races will be live streamed online for free viewing, a boon for the women because their races often are not televised, even in Europe where cycling is a major sport.

“A lot of the time you just can’t watch women’s racing,” said Ruth Winder, a 2016 Olympian who lives in Boulder. “One of the big stage races I do is the Giro Rosa in Italy. It’s such a big goal for me every year, I won a stage there this year, and nobody could watch it (on TV) which was really disappointing for me and a lot of people. I just feel really excited to see this happening and to be a part of it.”

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