Procycling - - Debrief -

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.

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