The 2019 Colorado Classic, which ran through Steamboat Springs, Avon, Golden and Denver last month was a triumphant success, despite early scepticism from some insiders that the all-women format would be unpopular or unsustainable.
Based on the overwhelming success of the Colorado Classic® presented by VF Corporation in its debut as an all-women’s pro race just over two weeks ago, the event plans to return next year on August 27-30, (pending UCI approval of the dates) with a similar all-women’s format, along with VF Corporation as the presenting sponsor.
Lucy Diaz, COO of RPM Events Group, organisers of the Colorado Classic, said, “We wanted to create a race that challenged the norm for women’s pro cycling, while building a sustainable platform for the future of the sport. We are inspired by the response and recognition around our event — the racers loved it, the fans showed up, our host cities provided fantastic support, people tuned in to the streaming that was broadcast all over the world, and new and returning sponsors were thrilled with the event.”
Anita Graham, VF Corporation’s Chief Human Resources Officer and Public Affairs, added, “The energy, spirit, and sense of community surrounding this year’s race was exhilarating, and we were proud to play our part for our new hometown.”
Among this year’s achievements and highlights are:
- A historic and dominating performance by overall champion Chloe Dygert-Owen from Sho-Air TWENTY20, with a four-stage sweep of the Gates Corporation GC Leader while also claiming four straight days as the FirstBank Sprint Leader, Colorado Tourism Office Queen of the Mountain and the VF Corporation Best Young Rider.
- More than 30,000 fans lined the streets and mountainsides to watch and cheer the women riders with unbridled energy and passion. Many spectators broke out into tears at the start of the race. Police in the caravan were waving cowbells out their windows.
- Several hundred thousand more watched the race live from start-to-finish each day on a race-owned innovative worldwide streaming and TV network that included Spanish-language simulcasts, social media coverage, and distribution through Altitude Sports — plus on-demand replays, available now.
- A prize purse of $75,000 — one of the richest payouts per day in the world for a women’s race and more than what the men received last year at the Colorado Classic.
- An additional $25,000 was crowd-sourced for riders and local non-profits through a Bonus Cash Lap ‘prime’ program that awarded cash to the fastest sprinter each day of the race. In Avon alone, the prime raised $10,000 — perhaps the largest in history for a women’s cycling race.
- Jennifer Valente from Sho-Air TWENTY20 was the big winner in the Bonus Cash Lap, bringing home $10,000 for wins in Avon and Denver, more than many women pro cyclists earn in an entire year.
- Veteran Lindsay Goldman, who co-owns, manages and rides for the Hagens Berman/Supermint team (in their last stage race as a pro team), all while working a full-time job and taking care of her 18-month-old baby, earned the Audi Most Inspirational Rider jersey on Stage 1 Steamboat Springs, presented by Smartwool.
- Katie Hall of the US National Team and 2018 Colorado Classic champion, earned the Audi Most Inspirational Rider jersey with an epic final climb in Stage 2 in Avon presented by FirstBank. The US National Team was formed in partnership with USA Cyclingc, bringing the top college riders to the race who were led and mentored by Hall, herself a former college champ.
- Ayesha McGowan (ALP Cycles Racing), who is racing to become the first African-American female pro cyclist, earned the Audi Most Inspirational Jersey for Stage 3 in Golden. McGowan said, after the race, “It’s been phenomenal to be a part of it. I raced my heart out and the crowd today was insane.”
- On the final day, Stage 4 in Denver presented by Gates Corporation, Brazilian racer and Colorado resident Flavia Oliveira (Fearless Femme) earned the VF Corporation Most Badass Rider jersey while the event’s oldest rider, 52-year-old Edwige Pitel (Cogeas Mettler Look), who crashed on the final lap but bounced right back into the saddle, earned the Audi Most Inspirational Rider jersey.