The 2012 USA Pro Challenge, ‘the toughest professional cycling race in the US’, saw attendance numbers of more than 1 million over the course of seven days, 20-26 August, as fans turned out to watch the action-packed, heart-pounding racing.
After travelling to 12 towns for the official stage starts and finishes, and passing through many other notable cities along the way, the estimated economic impact of the race to the State of Colorado is US$99.6 million, according to a study by IFM North America.
With a lead change nearly every day, one of the closest professional races in US history came down to the final moments of the Individual Time Trial in Denver, with American Christian Vande Velde of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda taking home the overall win. The race received unprecedented coverage highlighting the beautiful terrain of Colorado state that totalled 31 hours on NBC and NBC Sports Network in the US. The race was also broadcast internationally to 175 countries and territories around the world.
“The crowds at the 2012 USA Pro Challenge were unlike anything I’ve ever seen outside of the big races in Europe,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the Pro Challenge. “Driving the course every day and seeing the enthusiasm and passion from the fans lining the streets really gave a sense of the growing support for the sport of cycling in the US.
“This race showcases Colorado and provides an incredible economic impact that will hopefully be here for years to come.”
Direct spending by traveling spectators brought a significant portion of the economic impact. Both those fans from outside the state and Coloradans traveling 50 miles or more to take in an event stage contributed US$81.5 million on lodging, food, transportation and entertainment. The remaining economic impact comes in the form of team, staff, sponsor and vendor spending, employment created by the event, and the resulting tax effects of the race.
The 2012 race attracted spectators from at least 25 states across the US, with the top five after Colorado being Texas, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona and California. It also proved an exceptional following among Colorado residents, one of the significant contributing factors to the level of enthusiasm displayed by spectators along the entire 683-mile course.
“The enthusiasm we saw from the fans at this year’s USA Pro Challenge was unprecedented,” said Steve Johnson, President and CEO of USA Cycling, the national governing body for bicycle racing in the United States.
“One of our main goals is to grow competitive cycling in America and the USA Pro Challenge is doing just that. From the level of competition, to the huge crowds of fans lining the streets, to the overall organization, this race is exactly what we need in professional cycling.”
A draw for Colorado travel, 53% of spectators claimed they would not have travelled to Colorado at this time if it were not for the race. And with that, 75.8% stated they were very likely or likely to return to watch the race next year.
“The USA Pro Challenge is a huge community event that just continues to grow,” said Major Mark Savage of the Colorado State Patrol. “We are out there on the street with the fans ensuring a safe and fun event, and the respectful enthusiasm that continues to be displayed is amazing.”
Additional interesting analysis points include:
- Spectators travelled in groups, with the average party consisting of three people.
- While the median household income of Colorado residents is US$56,456, race spectators averaged a household income of US$110,000.
- Spectators were satisfied with almost all parts of the race and the experience, with more than 86% saying they were very satisfied or satisfied with the race.
- More than half of spectators in attendance reported they ride a bike for fitness, while roughly 21.9% responded they ride a bike occasionally or not at all.
- The event’s audience appreciates the world class level of competition at the USA Pro Challenge and watches major cycling events on television, with 93.4% stating they watch part of the Tour de France.
- The race drew spectators for various reasons with 64% wanting to witness the elite level of competition, 45% interested in the destination cities and 46% wanting to experience the start/finish festivals.
- Spectators’ experiences with the USA Pro Challenge positively influenced their view of the State of Colorado, with 75% of out-of-state visitors stating they are more likely or much more likely to visit Colorado again based on their experience at the USA Pro Challenge.
For seven consecutive days, the world’s top athletes raced through the majestic Colorado Rockies, reaching higher altitudes than they’ve ever had to endure as they ascended over three mountain passes, each exceeding 12,000ft in elevation. After attracting more than 1 million spectators in 2011, making it one of the largest cycling events in US history, the USA Pro Challenge returned for a second year in 2012.
Featuring a challenging, 683-mile course with more than 42,000ft of vertical climbing, the 2012 race highlighted the best of the best in professional cycling and some of America’s most beautiful scenery.
Referred to as ‘America’s Race’, the USA Pro Challenge took place on 20-26 August 2012, a week proclaimed by Governor John Hickenlooper as ‘Colorado Cycling Holiday’, and travelled through 12 host cities from Durango to Denver.