DENVER -- USA Pro Challenge organizers reported Thursday that the weeklong August bike race drew 1 million spectators — matching last year's inaugural event — across its 683-mile route through 12 Colorado towns.
The group said the economic impact of the race was $99.6 million, up from $83.5 million last year.
In a statement released Thursday afternoon, race organizers reported that race spectators spent $81.5 million on lodging, food, transportation and entertainment, citing a study by research firm IFM Global. The rest of the impact came from race support spending.
The report said spectators from 25 states lined the course and 53 percent of spectators claimed they would not have traveled to Colorado if not for the race. More than three-quarters of the spectators surveyed said they were likely to return to watch the race next year.
In its own survey of host cities, The Denver Post found that mountain towns including Telluride, Montrose and Crested Butte reported crowds around 5,000. As the race wound closer to the Front Range, hosts like Aspen, Beaver Creek and Breckenridge reported crowd numbers greater than 10,000.
The Front Range hosts of Colorado Springs and Golden saw a significant surge in crowd sizes, and the final stages in Boulder and Denver featured massive crowds lining every stretch of roadway. Organizers said the crowds lining the race course between host cities was larger than last year.
The downtown Denver finish in Civic Center drew crowds roughly the same size of festivals like the Taste of Colorado or the People's Fair, which draw more than 125,000 daily spectators. Crowds also jammed City Park as racers pedaled the time-trial course through the city.
The real impact of the race was the television coverage, which splashed a weeklong commercial of Colorado's high country and Front Range cities into 175 countries with 31 hours of coverage.
"We were thrilled with the television coverage and we were thrilled with the event. Every single person at the race was happy," said Rich Grant, spokesman for Visit Denver.