By Jared Eborn
Perhaps the only thing more exciting than the six days of racing the Tour of Utah provided in 2012 is the prospects of even more bicycle racing with the world’s best teams and cyclists spending a few more days pedaling around the Beehive State in 2013.
It was a poorly-kept secret that the Tour of Utah had its collective eyes set on a possible extension of the race into the southern portion of the state. Steve Miller, CEO of the race, confirmed those rumors as he met with the cycling media as the 2012 version of the race came to a close.
“I think as good as this year was, we have really great things in store for 2013. Community involvement is key, and that’s one thing that has allowed this race to become what it is,” Miller said. “Finding good host cities and partners like you see in Ogden and here in Park City have been tremendous.”
One thing that won’t change with the race is the general calendar slot. “The race will be in August again next year,” Miller said.
Growing the Tour of Utah, especially in a responsible manner that won’t overextend sponsor commitments or stretch the operating budget too much, have long been goals of Miller and his organizing committee. That means exploring new options for stage routes and host cities.
Possible locations for a southern swing include St. George, Moab and points in between.
“It’s s way, way, way premature to even speculate as to when we may see those stages. We did invite several potential host cities to this year’s Tour, so there have been quite a number of potential cities that came to this race,” he said “to see what it’s all about so now they have a better idea of what it takes to host a stage, a start or a finish, at the Tour of Utah.”
Representatives of St. George have been in attendance at stages of the Tour of Utah in the past and are clearly open to discussing being a host city.
“The possibilities are absolutely limitless. The key is going to be connecting the dots and finding communities that are interested in having the race start or finish there,” Miller said. “So there is definitely a lot of work to be done and we’re just going to have to take it a day at a time, make sure that we have the funding to do it right and again community involvement is key. That is what has allowed this race to become what it is, is finding good host cities, partners like you see here in Park City and the overall start in Ogden, Salt Lake City and others.”
“We’re trying to get ahead of the curve, we’ve been a little bit behind of the curve and we’ve always been cleaning up the previous year’s event before we could get started on the current year but now we’ve got a stronger staff in place, and we’ve been able to start designing and looking at 2013,” Miller said. “So I think that with as good as this year was, we have really great things in store with 2013.”
Still, without giving too much insight, Miller is hesitant to give too many clues about which roads the Tour of Utah might see in the future.
“Everybody grows at a different pace, but definitely this race was meant to grow in baby steps. If we would have tried to take today’s race and forced it four or five years ago, I don’t think that this market was ready for it, I don’t think that the teams were ready to race in Utah, I’m not sure that the fans or sponsors were ready have a race at this level or have racing at this level,” Miller said. “But as we put a solid foundation in place, I think clearly that the communities embraced it. For anybody that was here at the finish line today, it was a pretty strong showing.”