The cy­cle-rac­ing fes­ti­val wants its spe­cial guest CEOs to en­joy the ride – and to in­vest

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Ja­son Blevins

Mally Pacitti dances with her daugh­ter Ry­der as the New Pornog­ra­phers per­form dur­ing Velo­rama Colorado on Fri­day night in Denver’s River North District. The first-ever Velo­rama Colorado kicked off Fri­day night, also fea­tur­ing a per­for­mance by Wilco. The con­cert was part of the in­au­gu­ral bi­cy­cle race Colorado Clas­sic. Satur­day’s Stage 3 of the race will go from Denver to Peak to Peak High­way, be­gin­ning and end­ing in the RiNo District.

BRECKENRIDGE» The Colorado Clas­sic is more than a bike-rac­ing fes­ti­val. It’s more than a four-day, tourist-lur­ing com­mer­cial. The in­au­gu­ral pro-cy­cling race, which wraps in Denver’s River North neigh­bor­hood on Satur­day and Sun­day with a merry blend of bikes, beers and bands, also is serv­ing as bait for big busi­ness.

“I’ve al­ways said that Denver will be — and now it has be­come — one of the most dy­namic and fastest grow­ing cities in the coun­try, and this level of bike race po­ten­tial and sup­port shows what we can do for a high-level com­pany,” said Colorado tech en­tre­pre­neur Jim De­ters, who is host­ing a cast of cor­po­rate bosses on a sig­na­ture Colorado week­end of cy­cling, din­ing and danc­ing. “This is a whole new level for a live com­mer­cial. They are not just see­ing it on TV. They are putting rub­ber to the pave­ment and feel­ing the burn of el­e­va­tion in their lungs and scream­ing with the bands. We are go­ing to get them ad­dicted to Colorado.”

More than a dozen heavy hit­ters from IBM, Ama­zon, Sil­i­con Val­ley Bank, Work­day and ven­ture cap­i­tal firms will join Gov. John Hick­en­looper and a con­sor­tium of Colorado cheer­lead­ers — in­clud­ing DaVita chief Ken Thiry, real es­tate de­vel­oper Mark Fal­cone and other busi­ness lead­ers, as well as mu­si­cians and cy­clists — for a bike ride, din­ner and back­stage bo­ogy­ing on Satur­day. The day should high­light Colorado’s hall­mark out­door and cul­tural life­style that draws top tal­ent as well as the Front Range busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment care­fully crafted to wel­come en­trepreneurs. The hope of the so-called CEO Chal­lenge, dreamed up by Colorado bike boss and race in­vestor Ken Gart, is to en­tice cor­po­rate chief­tains to in­vest in Colorado.

Hick­en­looper, sport­ing a Team Rwanda bike jersey, said the in­au­gu­ral Colorado Clas­sic is all about cre­at­ing “a se­ries of mo­ments of in­tense beauty.” The game-chang­ing bike-race model — blending mu­sic lovers and cy­cling spec­ta­tors in a sound-

tracked fes­ti­val of pro­fes­sional bike rac­ing — aims to broaden the pro-cy­cling tent to in­clude all com­ers, in­clud­ing young, beer-swill­ing dancers who might not be fa­mil­iar with bike rac­ing.

The gov­er­nor com­pared the Colorado Clas­sic’s blended ap­proach — in­clud­ing Velo­rama, the en­ter­tain­ment side of the event — to the com­mon re­tail strat­egy of “cu­mu­la­tive at­trac­tion,” which groups sim­i­lar stores to en­cour­age cross-shop­ping that es­tab­lishes lo­ca­tions as the most at­trac­tive places to drop some cash.

“The race, the Colorado Clas­sic and Velo­rama, is so cool in its own right,” Hick­en­looper said. “The more de­ci­sion mak­ers, the more peo­ple with in­flu­ence from other parts of the coun­try who ex­pe­ri­ence it, the bet­ter. This is all just mar­ket­ing the state. We have a bunch of of­fices with Sil­i­con Val­ley com­pa­nies al­ready. Wouldn’t hurt to have a few more.”

De­ters, who has spent his ca­reer launch­ing startups — in­clud­ing Gal­va­nize and gS­chool — will lead some of the big­wig vis­i­tors on an en­tire lap of the 80mile Stage 3, push­ing from Denver up Coal Creek Canyon and back down Golden Gate Canyon on Satur­day. Women’s cy­cling leg­end Kristin Arm­strong, who has won medals each of the past three Sum­mer Olympics, will host a 40-mile ride. Later that night, the group will dine with the gov­er­nor and mem­bers of Wilco be­fore the band plays in RiNo.

Tom Pit­stick, chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer for Denver’s 106-year-old Gates Corp., is hop­ing the race helps his com­pany sell more of its in­no­va­tive car­bon-belt drive sys­tems that are de­signed to push the ven­er­a­ble bike chain into ob­so­les­cence.

His team is par­tic­i­pat­ing in the CEO Chal­lenge, help­ing to sell Denver to busi­ness ty­coons.

“It’s a great busi­ness com­mu­nity. It’s a big small city with a great pool of tal­ent com­ing in and a great ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem. And the work en­vi­ron­ment has ev­ery­thing you need, with busi­ness in­fra­struc­ture like big law firms and a great in­ter­na­tional air­port,” Pit­stick said. “We’ve been here 106 years and we have no in­ten­tion of ever leav­ing. I’m telling ev­ery­one: Come join us.”

Seth McCon­nell, The Denver Post

He­len H. Richard­son, The Denver Post

Spec­ta­tors takes photographs of the women cy­clists as they pass by dur­ing Stage 2 of the Colorado Clas­sic bike race on Thurs­day in Breckenridge.

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