The Colorado Classic is set to become a women's only race, beginning in 2019, race organizers announced Tuesday.
The event, which just completed its second year of competition this past summer, will be back August 22-25, 2019, as a four stage women's-only road race. In doing away with the men's competition, the purse for the women will nearly quadruple. The race will also offer the women's teams stipends for team travel and expenses.
"From the inaugural race of the Colorado Classic two years ago, the organization has stood behind women," former Olympian Kristin Armstrong said in a press release. "The announcement today of a women's-only UCI stage race truly shows the dedication and commitment the Colorado Classic has to women in sport."
The Colorado Classic hopes to put women's cycling on a much larger global stage with the change. The event will offer live video streaming coverage every day, and will also partner with Facebook live and the race's Tour Tracker mobile app.
The race routes will also see change as a result of eliminating the men. Race organizers say the routes will be more challenging, longer and have better start times.
"The Colorado Classic has been instrumental in bringing pro racing back to Colorado, and we are proud to support their bold move in becoming a women's-only bike race," Colorado Governor-Elect Jared Polis said in a statement. "The Colorado Classic reflects what our state is known for -- innovation and inclusion -- while showcasing Colorado's diverse outdoor health and wellness lifestyle."
The Colorado Classic began in 2017. The men's race had four stages in Colorado Springs, Breckenridge and Denver. The race was a reinvention of the USA Pro Challenge, which shut down due to being too expensive.
The women's race was two days, only running in Colorado Springs and Breckenridge. This year, the women's race was expanded to four days, running in conjunction with the men.
"With women's cycling, we saw the greatest opportunity to fulfill our mission to create a world-class race in Colorado that is socially impactful," chairman of RPM Events Group Ken Gart said. "By creating one great race instead of two average ones, we can shine a bright light on Colorado and pro women's racing while affecting meaningful social change."
Denver-based RPM Events Group LLC formed in 2016 with the goal to save the race. The group ultimately announced it would pair the race with a festival of sorts that included a market, food trucks, craft brewers and concerts.