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Fort Collins out, Grand Junction in for 2016 USA Pro Challenge

The city government of Grand Junction, Colorado set aside $85,000 to bring the USA Pro Challenge to the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains for the first time, while Fort Collins, twice a stage host, announced it will not seek a slot in the 2016 edition.

City councilors in Grand Junction voted this week to support $50,000 in cash and $35,000 of in-kind donations for the race, according to the Daily Sentinel, indicating a green light for local organizers to seek a stage.

Fort Collins, which has twice hosted the finish of mountainous stages beginning in Loveland, 20 miles to the south, will not seek to host for a third year.

Local organizers in Fort Collins cited the costs associated with hosting the event as the motive behind its decision, but left open the possibility of bringing the race back to Northern Colorado in 2017. The Loveland to Fort Collins stage operated with a $450,000 budget in 2014.

“An every other year basis makes the most sense for us,” Eric Thompson, spokesman for the local organizing committee, told the Coloradoan. “This isn’t to say it’s a guarantee the race comes here in 2017, but it’s clear, given the fan turnout and the fantastic course, there’s a huge interest in the race when it comes through Fort Collins. We’ve showcased Northern Colorado on a worldwide stage.”

“It is a significant commitment of time and resources to pull off an event of that magnitude,” said Kelly DiMartino, Fort Collins assistant city manager. “With an event of that size, we have to be cognizant about the frequency we’re being involved.”

The Pro Challenge is seeking a title sponsor following the announcement that the Schaden family, owners of Quiznos and other restaurant chains, would not longer provide financial backing for the race. Dates for the 2016 event have not been officially announced, though the UCI has a 2.HC event in Colorado scheduled for August 15-21.