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Raw deal from Pro Challenge 

End Zone

For the past week, all we've heard in response to the USA Pro Challenge rejecting Colorado Springs' bid for a piece of the 2013 cycling race has been diplomatic blather. Nobody wants to say anything that might hurt us in the future.

Instead, they're saying, let's be grateful. It was a lot to expect, to be included for a third consecutive year. Other cities deserved a chance to become involved. Maybe we can have the privilege again in 2014.

Enough already. Nobody wants to say what they're really thinking. So I will.

Colorado Springs deserved better. Far better than this insensitive snub from the organizers of the still-fledgling event, going into just its third year.

In fact, our city should be royally torqued after being blown off for 2013. Not one moment of the seven-day event will take place south of a line that runs from Aspen to Breckenridge to Denver. No more effort to see as much of the state as realistically possible.

And not a glimpse of Colorado Springs, which contributed so much to the race establishing instant credibility.

Instead, it suddenly looks like a wine-and-cheese orgy in and around the ritzy ski towns, mingling with the nouveau riche and perhaps some wrinkled, Hollywood used-to-be-jet-setters. Come on, Buffy, let's go down to the square with Griff and Dharma, have a little Pinot with escargot, and perhaps see Cadel Evans, Levi Leipheimer and the boys. Maybe we can buy a signed jersey. They'll have nice hors d'oeuvres in the VIP tent for only an extra $200 or so. It'll be a nice afternoon. Then we can fly home to L.A. tomorrow.

So all those amazing Men in Tights, along with their hard-working entourages, will spend five days bopping around between Aspen and Snowmass, Vail, Steamboat and Breckenridge. Then they'll come back down the hill to mingle with the unwashed, on a Loveland-to-Fort Collins trip that probably will meander through Estes Park but surely not too close to those damaged areas from the High Park Fire of last June. Then back into Denver for the usual grand finale.

Sorry, but the USA Pro Challenge appears to have contracted a case of snooty, vainglorious conceit. So what if Grand Junction offered 700 reasonably priced hotel rooms, a possible route through the Colorado National Monument and a kickoff festival similar to what our city put on in 2011? Who cares if Colorado Springs had yet another brilliant idea to provide a different, scenic stage climax?

Forget the Springs organizers' monumental performance, amid the relief effort after the Waldo Canyon Fire, to galvanize the city and produce a remarkable circuit finish in and around downtown just four short months ago — creating arguably the USA Pro Challenge's most dramatic moment.

Oh, thanks for that idea, Colorado Springs. Now we'll just use it for our opening stage in Aspen and Snowmass. Who knows, maybe Kevin Costner, Michelle Pfeiffer and Jerry Seinfeld will be there. They do have places in Aspen, you know. Then maybe we can have circuits in Denver. It'll be just swell.

The race leaders know they're indebted to Colorado Springs. Think back to 2011, when the inaugural prologue from Garden of the Gods to downtown provided a visual spectacle for the worldwide TV audience, and the local cycling community filled an entire week with related events. And this past August, when thousands converged on downtown and Tejon Street became an impromptu stadium. The race's bigwigs were there, visiting our version of a VIP area. No famous movie stars, just real people willing to pay for a front-row view of the celebration.

Hell yes, we deserved better. Colorado Springs had so much to do with the USA Pro Challenge becoming so hot so quickly. All those volunteers, all those sponsors, all those commitments. For all that, pushing so hard even after such a destructive, historic fire, now we're outsiders.

It's not right. No matter what anybody says — or doesn't say.

routon@csindy.com

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