City decides to sit out next Pro Challenge

Disappointing turnout among reasons for opt out

Durango hosted the start of the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, but will take a pass on the bicycle race in 2013.

The deadline for applications for host cities is today. Durango did not submit a proposal.

Enthusiasm for the event seems to have waned with the low turnout of visitors this year. City Manager Ron LeBlanc blamed the Pro Challenge organization for setting high expectations, telling the city to expect as many as 25,000 people. The actual number of spectators on race day in August was estimated by the city at 13,000.

“In terms of the outside visitors, we were disappointed that the information from the race was off, significantly off. They exaggerated all their numbers. That’s a disappointment,” LeBlanc said.

Pro Challenge did not return a call for a response.

The city invested about $50,000 in the event while the local organizing committee raised about $500,000 altogether for race expenses.

Because of the national and international media attention, LeBlanc felt the city got its money’s worth in terms of exposure. Durango exceeded its goals in increasing its brand awareness with tourists.

“If we did it again, we would not get the (same) return on the investment,” he said.

LeBlanc, however, did not rule out hosting the race again sometime in the future, but 2013 feels too soon, especially because the race requires so much preparation.

“The effort it took was considerable. We’re a small city, only 17,000 people. I don’t think you can expect volunteers to put out the tremendous effort every year,” LeBlanc said.

Cycling fans, however, still might have a regional opportunity to catch the race in 2013.

Telluride did submit an application to host a stage of the race next year, the Telluride Daily Planet reported.

jhaug@durangoherald.com

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