City of Durango up to challenge of Pro Challenge

Hopefully by now, you have heard of a bicycle race occurring in Durango on Aug. 20. Our city was fortunate to be selected as the start city for the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

This race has been dubbed “Colorado’s Tour de France,” attracting many of the world’s top road-cycling athletes. Amid the high-profile athletes, there are some fantastic events for locals.

“It All Starts Here” is the theme for Stage 1 of the race, led by our tireless leaders of the Local Organizing Committee, Mary Monroe of Trails 2000 and Sherri Dugdale from the city of Durango. By the time cyclists are heading out U.S. Highway 160 on their way to Telluride, our community will have provided numerous exciting events and activities put on by hundreds of volunteers, donating thousands of hours, and an ample financial investment in the race.

The immediate economic impact should be felt in the week leading up to the start in the form of increased sales-tax and lodgers-tax collections. Recent years have shown a bit of a tourism trough around mid-August, at the time when many schools in our tourism markets kick off their year, and Labor Day Weekend.

Teams will arrive early to train and acclimate. Spectators will flock to see Levi Leipheimer, Cadel Evans, local favorite Tom Danielson and George Hincapie’s last hurrah.

The Durango Area Tourism Office’s staff and board of directors have been heavily involved and have spent hundreds of hours in the planning stages of the race, serving on committees to help market, plan, promote and contribute in numerous other ways. Together with La Plata County, DATO also is contributing $25,000 of lodgers tax to defray race expenses.

DATO’s real opportunity is to leverage the national and international attention the race will bring to fulfill its mission of generating visitation and overnight stays in La Plata County 365 days of the year and achieving the goal of tourism being a top economic driver in our area.

To that end, DATO is producing a 30-second television commercial that will be aired on NBC during the race. While cycling and many of the other great athletic endeavors we enjoy out our back doors will be a part of the ad, it also will highlight the unique qualities of the Durango area and show just how much we have to offer as a destination. This is our opportunity to show the world what area residents already know: We live in a very special place.

Don’t miss out. There are so many great events and festivals planned in the days leading up to the start of the race. Among them, wear your tutu and ride to Ska Brewing Co. on Thursday for local beers. Ride to Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort in the Pro Challenge Experience, then hit the downtown Durango Street Party on Sunday. Visit the Race Day Start Festival at Buckley Park. Check out www.Durango2012.com for a full list. Help show what a special community we enjoy all year long.

oylerkk@gmail.com. Kris Oyler is the current chairman of the Durango Area Tourism Office board of directors.

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