UPDATE: The after-party following Stage 1 of the inaugural Colorado Classic cycling race was moved inside to Cowboys nightclub because of heavy rain Thursday afternoon.
The free downtown party, with live music and a beer garden, was scheduled to be held from 7 to 10:30 p.m. in front of Blondie's and Cowboys, 24 N. Tejon St.
It's been two years since cycling fans have been able to stand on the streets of Colorado Springs and watch a peloton whoosh by.
That changes Thursday with the inaugural Colorado Classic, a four-day men's stage race and two-day women's race. The men will complete six laps covering 93.5 miles during Stage 1 in Colorado Springs, with a fast cruise down a flat stretch of Tejon Street downtown, and the women will complete two laps of the same circuit.
"As Olympic City USA, it's a great sporting opportunity for our city," said Brianna Goodwin, event coordinator for Colorado Springs Sports Corp., one of the organizations sponsoring the race, festival and after-party. "This is going to be televised on NBC, and it gives us great exposure on a national level."
A day-long downtown celebration will begin at 9 a.m. with live music, food, vendors, a beer garden and more.
The women's race begins at 10 a.m., and the men's race is at 1 p.m.
An after-party with more live music and a beer garden will finish the day starting at 7 p.m. in front of Blondie's and Cowboys. Four bands will be featured: the Springs-based blues, contemporary rock, jazz and gospel Austin Young Band, local country-flavored Jeffrey Alan Band, Denver-based rock and funk band Public Safety and national performer Aaron Lee Tasjan, whose music is described as indie folk grit.
"When you're downtown, there's that festival feel with music, food, vendors and those racers coming through," said Goodwin. "They are doing a circuit, so they come by a couple of times. After that is the awards ceremony and to be part of the competition, like the Olympics, and getting to see who won and how fast they were going are a lot of the different pieces that make it exciting for spectators."
The Classic will fill the hole left by the USA Pro Challenge, a seven-day stage race that rolled through the Springs and around the state from 2011 to 2015 before financial struggles took it down. The last year of the Challenge attracted thousands to the Springs course.
Stage 2 of the Classic is set for Friday in Breckenridge, and the final two legs of the men's event are Saturday and Sunday in Denver, accompanied by Velorama, a three-day street party from Friday through Sunday that will celebrate the race and biking in Colorado. The event features food, vendors, bike races, games and a healthy roster of music by bands such as The New Pornographers, Wilco, Death Cab for Cutie and Old 97s.