Pedal Power

Tour of Utah Speeds into Southern Utah

John Coon

July 9, 2013

For nearly 10 years, the Tour of Utah has been racing across Northern Utah, attracting worldwide attention and leaving behind a great economic impact in its path. As one of the nation’s only UCI-sanctioned, multi-stage pro cycling events, the Tour of Utah is considered one of the world’s top international cycling events following the Tour de France. And its big business for the Beehive State.

This year, the tour is speeding into Southern Utah, and local businesses and residents are gearing up for what they hope will be an economic boon for the area. The event not only attracts spectators from around the globe but also receives international media coverage, which local businesses hope will entice would-be tourists to the area. 

Going south has always been part of the blueprint for building the Tour of Utah. Moving stages outside the Wasatch Front represented a natural step in a long-term goal of turning the six-day cycling race into a statewide event. It offered the best path to expand the footprint of the Tour of Utah and increase its impact to the entire state.

“I knew from day one that in order for the Tour of Utah to stay relevant and stay viable, that we had to make it a statewide tour,” says Steve Miller, Tour of Utah president. “Otherwise, you might as well call it the Tour of the Wasatch Front or the Tour of the Wasatch Back. We knew for it to be a true Tour of Utah, we would have to go south.”

The 2013 Tour of Utah, which runs from Aug. 6 to Aug. 11, will implement that vision. Three out of six stages will either start or finish in Southern or Central Utah. Seven of the 10 venues are hosting the race for the first time.

Stage one will begin at Brian Head and end in Cedar City. Stage two will go from Panquitch to Torrey. Stage three will start in Richfield and end in Payson. The final three stages will incorporate familiar routes through Salt Lake City, Ogden and Park City.

Spreading the Love

The Tour of Utah is a unique marketing tool that can showcase the state in a way that isn’t possible with most other sporting events, according to Miller.

 “It is a high-level professional sporting event that we can move from location to location and we can help sprinkle a positive economic impact all along the way,” he says. “If the city or town or venue we go to is interested in partnering up with us, then we can help showcase them in a way that you can’t with many other pro sporting events.”

Cedar City economic leaders saw all of the potential benefits hosting a Tour of Utah stage could bring to their community. They wasted no time in launching a bid to host a stage once it became clear the cycling race would expand southward.

For Cedar City, it offered a chance to gain exposure on a national and international scale.

“This is our Olympics,” says Byron Linford, events coordinator for the Cedar City Office of Economic Development. “This is an opportunity to gain exposure we would not be able to gain otherwise into a market that will be a great market for us. Those people that watch cycling worldwide traditionally are more affluent than their neighbors. It’s a market we want to reach and it’s a fantastic way to do it.”

Hosting a major sporting event isn’t a new thing for Cedar City. The community is home to Southern Utah University, which fields several NCAA Division I sports teams. Cedar City also hosts the annual Utah Summer Games each June.

Bringing that sort of hosting experience to the table helped seal the deal with Tour of Utah officials. It also gave Cedar City officials insight on how much economic value the race will ultimately bring to their community
in August.

“People who come to a sporting event are at our gas stations,” says Brennan Wood, economic development director for Cedar City. “They’re eating at our restaurants. They’re staying at our hotels. They’re providing a revenue source for small businesses throughout the community. These sporting events really create a better quality of life for our residents that live in Cedar City because of the disposable income being spent within the city.”

Gaining Traction

The annual cycling race continues to evolve into a premier sports event on a national and international level.

Since 2011, the Tour of Utah has been a UCI 2.1 race on the UCI America Tour. This permits professional teams and riders from across the globe to compete in the race. Many cyclists in the field each year—including two-time Tour of Utah champion Levi Leipheimer—routinely compete in the Tour de France and other elite cycling races.

Fox Sports Network is providing live coverage of the tour for a third consecutive season. It will devote 18 hours of airtime to the race during the week. FSN is broadcast into 70 million homes nationwide. Tour coverage is also streamed live through the official Tour of Utah website.

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