New name, same climbs
Red Zinger Bicycle Challenge race director Len Pettyjohn, said Monday that the 2001 edition of the race is “a 100-percent certainty,” though the event will probably take place under the name of a new title sponsor.
Pettyjohn told VeloNews that he would be ready to announce the identity of the race’s new title sponsor within a month. He, however, did offer one hint, noting that this year’s winner “will probably be driving home in a new car,” from a race now scheduled for August 11. Pettyjohn was also the director of the former Mercury Tour, a mountain-bike stage race in Steamboat, Colorado, sponsored by the Ford Motor Company division. Pettyjohn declined to say whether the winner of his road roace might be heading home in one of Ford or Mercury’s huge SUVs.
Pettyjohn said the race will “pretty much” follow the same difficult – some would say brutal – 139-mile course from Boulder, Colorado to the ski town of Breckenridge. In addition to its considerable length, the course also involves more than 14,000 feet of climbing and is subject to the whims of the unpredictable summer weather of the high Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
Last year’s edition was won by Mercury’s Scott Moninger after he broke away from a small group of leaders in a cold mountain rain storm on the day’s final climb, the 10,000-foot Hoosier Pass. The lead group had formed on the slopes of 11,617-foot Guanella Pass, just above Georgetown.
Moninger won $15,000 for his efforts and Pettyjohn said the 2001 prize list should be even larger than last year’s, including the probability of a new car given to the winner.
Pettyjohn said he will again include a downtown criterium in Breckenridge for women. Pettyjohn said the inclusion of a women’s road race “would be impossible,” due to logistical problems, lack of staff and difficulty in getting permission to close roads for more than a brief period.
“There was a pretty good response from a lot of women’s teams, despite the criticisms we also got for not having a women’s road race,” he said. “There were enough people who asked us to do that again that I figured that we should do it.”
Last year’s race date of July 15 coincided with the Tour de France, eliminating the possibility that most top American riders could compete. The new date, said Pettyjohn, will allow riders competing in Europe to make the trip, “but that’s not the main intention of the race. I’ve always thought that we needed to raise the bar in this country and offer real point-to-point races that are as difficult as something you might find in Europe. I think we did that last year and I’m glad we can do it this year.”
Pettyjohn said last year’s title sponsor, Celestial Seasonings, will still have some involvement with the event “and I’m meeting with (CEO) Mo (Siegel) to work that out. He really wants to be involved, that’s for certain.”