MORE THAN A RACE
T he Colorado Classic was more than a bike race. In fact, looking at the marketing material for the event, it looked like a festival of music, food and drink, with some bike racing tacked on.
This isn’t at all to denigrate the men’s race, which was closelyfought, unpredictable and visually spectacular – all that a bike race should be, in fact. There was also a two-day women’s event which was more than just an add-on – it looked like a much more coherent part of the whole than, say, La Course or the Madrid Challenge. But the concept of the Velorama festival, as the event was known, was to offer a fan experience that a) offered more than pitching up at the side of the road to watch the race go past and b) brought in revenue for the organisers, with paid tickets. In return for their hardearned, fans could enjoy three nights of concerts, street food and craft beers. And some racing.
It felt a little like a less consciously innovative Hammer event. Velon’s Hammer Series is pitching its races as full fan experiences, with fanzones imported from chief executive officer Graham Bartlett’s experience of working in football. But they have also tinkered significantly with the format of the racing, making it a team event and using a complicated and arguably offputting points structure. The Colorado Classic’s structure was that of a traditional stage race, but with a central hub, shorter stages, and circuits of varying difficulty to make the racing interesting. In his report, Velonews writer Caley Fretz described it as the “future of bike racing”. It wasn’t just because the racing was entertaining that it felt like this was an event with a future.