Worth the extra push: Quiznos Pro Challenge

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Earlier this month, Gov. Bill Ritter and famed cyclist Lance Armstrong took to the podium to announce that they had secured a deal to bring pro cycling back to Colorado after a 22-year hiatus.

Cycling fans cheered. Tourism officials panicked.

They panicked because the announcement came with a 55-page bid packet from Medalist Sports that laid out requirements for cities interested in staging legs of the race, dubbed the Quiznos Pro Challenge, set for Aug. 22-28, 2011.

The requirements include:

100 complimentary hotel rooms;

300 hotel rooms for media;

Room rates that cannot exceed $90 a night;

Hotels that must be three-star, full-service, or greater;

if multiple hotels are used, they must be within a one-block walking distance from each other;

an organizing committee that must be established to coordinate with the city and hotels.

Hotel availability during the summer tourist season in the Springs is always a challenge.

But that doesn’t mean the battle is over. Tourism officials from all over the state, including Colorado Springs, hoped to meet with Medalist Sports this week to see whether the organization will relax its staging requirements.

We’re glad they’re making the effort. Leaving Colorado Springs, the most beautiful city in the state, out of the race would be a mistake.

But it won’t be easy to pull this off.

The Antlers Hilton Hotel downtown has 492 rooms. There are other hotels downtown, but they are small and often not full-service.

If hotels on the south end of town team up, they might be able to handle the load. The Doubletree has 299 rooms and the Crowne Plaza with 500 rooms, but they’re about half a mile away from each other, a stretch for the one-block requirement.

Medalist Sports will have to make some adjustments to its requirements. If it doesn’t, it’s likely that it will not only exclude Colorado Springs, the second largest city in the state, but a lot of other cities as well, like Fort Collins to the north and Grand Junction just on the other side of the Rockies.

It’s almost a given that the race will start and end in Denver, because the start-stop city must have 600 hotel rooms, according to Medalist.

That’s fine. But let’s do all we can to be sure the Springs hosts a leg of what promises to be an exciting race and a great opportunity to showcase all that we have to offer.

After all, there’s no race for 2012 yet and so a lot of hotel rooms will need filling.