The premier professional women’s cycling race in North America won’t run again until 2022.
The Colorado Classic announced a decision Thursday not to hold a race in 2021 because of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, which also resulted in the event’s cancellation in 2020.
The announcement came early, as the race has been scheduled for August since its creation in 2017.
“In 2020, we spent months working tirelessly in conjunction with State, County and City organizations, health authorities and the sports governing bodies to come up with a COVID mitigation plan that would ensure the health and safety for everyone,” Ken Gart, the chairman of RMP Events Group which organizes the Colorado Classic, said in a news release. “In the end, the most prudent decision was still to cancel the event. With the current situation being just as uncertain as it was last year, we don’t think it makes sense – financial or otherwise – to organize a 2021 event and risk another cancellation.”
The Colorado Classic brought professional International Cycling Union (UCI) sanctioned racing back to Colorado in 2017 following on the heels of the USA Pro Challenge, which ran from 2011-15 before it went under without the funding of a title sponsor. The 2017 Colorado Classic featured two stages for women and four for men. In 2018, the race grew to include four women’s stages. In 2019, the race transitioned to become the only standalone women’s UCI stage race in North America.
Because of the pandemic, the Colorado Classic transitioned to a virtual event in 2020 to keep sponsors and athletes involved. And though the UCI was able to reschedule several 2020 events for later in the year and aims to push forward with 2021 racing across the world, the Colorado Classic made the early call to look ahead to 2022 rather than plan a 2021 event.
“This is not an easy decision to make,” Gart said in the news release. “We know that this race holds an important place on both the domestic and international race calendars, and we remain committed to our goal of being the best women’s race in the world. But we hope that by delaying the event to 2022, the pandemic will have stabilized and we’ll be able to secure the necessary financial partners to do our event justice and host another game-changing, world-class event as we did in 2019.”
Colorado has struggled to keep high-level stage racing. The Red Zinger Bicycle Classic brought stage racing to the state in 1975 and later grew to a two-week event with the Coors Classic, which ran from 1980-88. The Coors Classic had become the fourth-biggest stage race in the world behind only the three Grand Tours – the Tour de France, Giro d’Italia and Spanish Vuelta.
High-level stage racing across the U.S. has continued to struggle because of a lack of sponsorship money. The Tour of California, which had UCI World Tour status, went on hiatus in 2020 because of funding problems, and its 2021 status is unclear, as it is not listed on the UCI men’s or women’s World Tour calendars for 2021.
The 2021 Tour of Utah is scheduled for July 26 through Aug. 1.
Gart said RMP Events Group aims to bring the Colorado Classic back in 2022 to once again put a spotlight on professional women’s cycling.
“Let me assure you that our commitment to women’s cycling is as strong as ever,” Gart said. “We continue to believe that the Colorado Classic can evolve into one of the most powerful platforms in women’s sport, and we will work on achieving that goal as we set our sights on 2022.”