DENVER — Colorado's largest bicycle race is on life support.
The Colorado Classic issued a letter Tuesday seeking a multi-year financial partner in a "final effort to relaunch the event."
"We are at an unfortunate crossroads," said Colorado Classic founder Ken Gart. "Given the lack of financial support and sponsorship interest, we are faced with the difficult decision on whether or not to continue operating the event."
"To relaunch the Colorado Classic, we need a minimum investment of $3 million," wrote Gart in a letter to supporters Tuesday. "We realize this is a big ask, but after seeking funding over the past 12 months we have come up short and are now making this request public, as a final effort to leave no stone unturned."
The women's-only racing event last took place in 2019. The 2020 and 2021 races were canceled.
More than 30,000 fans watched the 2019 Colorado Classic, according to organizers. The race, won by Chloe Dygert-Owen, coursed through Steamboat Springs, Avon, Golden and Denver.
RELATED: Colorado Classic cancels 2021 event
In an open letter to supporters, Colorado Classic founder Ken Gart explained the current position of the race and what is necessary to relaunch the race:
Dear Colorado Classic Supporters,
We need your help and the time is now.
As we celebrate International Women’s Day and Month, we would like to address the status of the 2022 Colorado Classic. We are at an unfortunate crossroads. Given the lack of financial support and sponsorship interest, we are faced with the difficult decision on whether or not to continue operating the event.
To relaunch the Colorado Classic, we need a minimum investment of $3 million. We realize this is a big ask, but after seeking funding over the past 12 months we have come up short and are now making this request public, as a final effort to leave no stone unturned. If we are unable to attain the necessary investment, the Colorado Classic and its mission to champion inclusivity and gender equity for women’s cycling will be gone.
In 2019, the Colorado Classic became the gold standard for women’s racing in the United States. After recognizing the drastic gender disparity within professional cycling, we set out on a mission to become a new best practice for women’s only racing. In a year’s time, the Colorado Classic became more than a cycling race, proving our dedication to elevating the sport for women. We created an international platform where women are treated equally to men with prize money, broadcast coverage and all other aspects of the race.
Due to the COVID pandemic, the Colorado Classic was forced to bring the competition to a halt in 2020, providing an opportunity to actively assess the event structure. Taking the best practices learned in Colorado, we developed a new business plan. Our vision is to build a long-term sustainable all-women’s race series throughout the United States that would culminate with the marquee event in Colorado.
In 2019, the VF Corporation stepped up to support our industry-leading event; making a statement to their customers, employees and stakeholders with their commitment to gender equity from the bicycle to the boardroom. We thank them for their unwavering support and applaud them for investing in a cause that empowers female athletes.
Right now, we have a “blue sky” moment, and with the right partner, we can create something that makes a real and lasting impact on women’s cycling. The Colorado Classic is a game-changer, and without this event, the opportunities for female cyclists, both current and upcoming, are significantly reduced. As a Colorado native, this event and its mission are near and dear to my heart. Together we can make a difference and together we can create opportunities that catapult women’s cycling to the next level.
Our ask is simple: we need a long-term, multi-year commitment to re-launch the Colorado Classic. We need a partner with an aligned vision to change the world of cycling and continue moving the needle for equity. The time is now.
Ken Gart, Founder and Chairman of the Colorado Classic
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