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Despite financial woes, USA Pro Challenge will return in 2016

The cash-strapped USA Pro Challenge will return to Colorado in 2016, according to a report in the Colorado Springs Gazette.

The race’s press officer, Heather Krug, confirmed to VeloNews Wednesday that the race will go on.

The seven-day stage race across Colorado’s Rocky Mountains changed ownership in September after the Schaden family, owners of Quiznos and other restaurant chains, stepped down from its role as the race’s financial backer. The race lost $2 million in 2015, and even more in prior years. The Pro Challenge has not yet announced who or what will fill that financial hole.

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.

Following the Schaden family’s exit, race director Shawn Hunter and Ken Gart, Colorado’s governor-appointed Bike Czar, were tasked with finding funding to continue the race.

According to organizers, the Pro Challenge has grown into the largest spectator event in Colorado history. The economic impact of the event is estimated at $130 million each year.

Though the future of the race was unknown until this week, preparations began months ago for Colorado cities hoping to host a stage of the 2016 edition. In December, the city government of Grand Junction set aside $85,000 to bring the Pro Challenge to the Western Slope of the Rocky Mountains for the first time.

An anonymous source close to the Gazette cited a “high probability” that the race will return to Colorado Springs this year. The city hosted the first ever stage of the Pro Challenge in 2011, a time trial through the Garden of the Gods.

Fort Collins, meanwhile, announced it will not seek to host in 2016 after hosting a mountainous stage in 2014 and 2015. The city cited the cost of hosting, and noted that hosting every other year would be more feasible.