Vande Velde is Champion of 2012 Pro Challenge
Local Lodging and Eateries Enjoy Race Crowds
In a battle between the seasoned veterans and the newcomers, the last Stage of the 2012 USA Pro Challenge came down to a matter of seconds in the Individual Time Trial that saw veteran Christian Vande Velde (USA) of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda take home the overall win. In the “race of truth,” Taylor Phinney (USA) of BMC Racing Team put up an impressive time of 17:25:50 to claim the final stage win of 2012 in front of a monumental crowd in downtown Denver last Sunday, Aug. 26. Vande Velde took second in the stage, followed by Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team. In the overall, van Garderen took second, followed by Levi Leipheimer (USA) of Omega Pharma-QuickStep. For complete reports and standings visit the USA Pro Cycling Challenge website.
Pro Challenge = Another Lap to Bank for Some Biz
The USA Pro Challenge Riders weren’t the only ones racking up the points in the win column. Many mountain communities – including Leadville and Lake County – were marking the race’s economic impact. While unofficial numbers seemed below what was projected for the host cities – Durango, Telluride, Montrose, Crested Butte, Aspen, Beaver Creek and Breckenridge – Lake County had the advantage of having two different stages of the race come through the area. And, it should be noted, without the hefty price-tag that generally comes from hosting such an event.
“I think the event went absolutely great! Great crowds and participation. People seemed to really enjoy it,” said Leadville Mayor Jaime Stuever. He added that his bed & breakfast business – The Governor’s Mansion – had guests staying with them that came to Leadville specifically to watch the Pro Challenge Race. However, he did add that he had spoke to Keith Hundley owner of Hundley’s Olde Tyme Gifts, who reported that he did not feel the race had an impact on his gift shop.
“It went well. We did good,” stated Silver Dollar Saloon owner Tony Cowfer. He added that they saw a lot of locals on Thursday afternoon after the race had come through town, and that Wednesday night was definitely above the business they would normally do.
“The third time pass through of the USA Pro Challenge through Lake County in the past two years, cemented our reputation as one of the toughest places in the United States for athletes to test themselves. The promotion value of showing the sprint in Leadville and the climbers’ competition on Independence Pass will pay dividends for years to come,” stated Bordogna. He added “As always, we have – and will continue – as local organizers and responders to debrief and learn how we can do things better and learn how to mitigate the negative impacts and accentuate the positive.”
Linda Duthie owner of The Grill said that they “got slammed” on Wednesday (8/22/12) night. “We could have used a few more hands, but we got through it. Now we know what to expect,” said Duthie, explaining that they thought Thursday might be the busier day of the two that the race came through Lake County. Duthie said that when she saw how busy the hotels were as she was driving through town, she knew that The Grill would be busy as well – and it was!
The local coffee shop – City On A Hill – reported that they had a definite boost over their regular Thursday traffic. So it seems like the lodging and eating establishments definitely experienced that last LOUD ring of the cash register for summer.
Public Safety at Forefront During Pro Challenge
In terms of public safety associated with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, things went well, according to Lake County Emergency Manager Mike McHargue.
“From a public safety perspective, I’m pretty happy,” stated McHargue. “We had what we planned for: an incident within an incident.” And first responders were able to handle things quickly and efficiently.
During Stage 3 on August 22 as the race traveled through the southern part of Lake County, emergency personnel responded to a severe trauma which required Flight for Life. A recreational cyclist went down at 45 mph around the first significant hairpin turn on Hwy 82, north of Twin Lakes, with very significant injuries.
“We had advanced life support on scene in 4 minutes or less,” reported McHargue. “You can imagine if that was a normal day that it could be as long as 45-50 minutes.”
The next day, August 23, emergency responders received another call, involving a shortness of breath situation at the Climax Mine. But good planning allowed emergency responders from Summit County to “to handle that quite easily too,” due to Lake County’s partnering with other jurisdictions (Pitkin and Summit Counties), allowing local coordinators to not have to move any other medical assets that were in place for the Pro Challenge, reported McHargue.
There’s no doubt that orchestrating nearly 600 first responders and other volunteers involves a lot of work. But as McHargue put it, with all the funds drying up for full blow training exercises, the Pro Challenge allowed local responders to coordinate with reservists from fire protection, from police, as well as partnering with neighboring county entities. That’s an exercise in itself and one – it seems – that Lake County will have the opportunities and funds to repeat again next year.
“I firmly believe that we will have the Pro Challenge in our county again, if not one day, then possibly multiple days,” said McHargue. And while the route for the 2013 race will be determined in October, for now perhaps a round of “Good Job” is warranted. Thanks for keeping Lake County safe!