The USA Pro Challenge is finished, but we’ve still got a cyclist to cheer for

staff photo
A photo of the 2013 USA Pro Challenge. (Kimon Berlin/Flickr/CC 2.0)

A photo of the 2013 USA Pro Challenge. (Kimon Berlin/Flickr/CC 2.0)

Well, it’s official. The USA Pro Challenge, the cycling race of Colorado, is no more.

If you’re not much of a cyclist, you’re wondering why you should mourn something that just amounts to a bunch of road detours for seven days. The simplest reason is that this was one of the country’s biggest cycling events.

Outside magazine called it “America’s version of the Tour de France.” Race organizers said it was Colorado’s biggest sporting event. Cycling news says the end of the race is a blow for the U.S., “which has a dearth of top-level racing.”

Plus, now the race joins a longer line of big cycling races proved unsustainable. Outsite magazine notes that Tour de Georgia is among “popular-but-unprofitable stage races to go belly-up.”

Ok, so the USA Pro Challenge is important to the sport of cycling, but let’s say you don’t care about that.

There’s also all the money.

You’ve got the $20 million that Richard and Rick Schaden lost while bankrolling the race. Then the race itself generated hundreds of millions of dollars for the state, at least according to a study that the race organizers commissioned.

At any rate, the economic benefits were big enough that Colorado towns sought out stops along the route. Grand Junction asked its citizens for $150,000 of the $300,000 they needed to host the race, Colorado Public Radio reported. Though the city abandoned that tact, it still seems like a pretty big IOU for a bike race.

But if all this talk has got you sad, the Olympics do start in three days.

You can even watch a Colorado person race her bike: Boulder native Mara Abbott is on Team USA.