Montana will join the ranks of U.S. cities hosting professional cycling events in 2015 with the inaugural Tour of Montana. What makes the Tour of Montana different from other multi-day events is that it will provide women and men from the professional peloton an equal purse prize, equal sponsored media coverage, and the opportunity to race on the same courses.This will also be the first Women’s Cycling Association branded event, “One of the goals the WCA had from its inception was to develop a series of events in which men and women were competing equally, much the way professional tennis tournaments are structured,” says WCA president Robin Farina. “The Tour of Montana is an event created from scratch with this goal in mind and that we can use in creating future events.”
Also distinguishing the Tour of Montana from other events is the Montana Bicycle Festival, a 100-day celebration of cycling, culture and art in the host city of Missoula, MT that will begin in April and conclude on the final day of the race weekend. “We wanted to create something that got the city excited about hosting a bicycle race, that offered sponsors an enhanced platform to connect with their customers, and most importantly we wanted an event that the community could own and have a part in creating” says Executive Director and Festival Director Nicole Adamson. “Missoula is a cycling hub for the state with an active and engaged arts and culture scene. The Festival is a way to highlight all the best that is Missoula and Montana.”
The 2015 Tour of Montana takes place July 16-19, placed on the calendar between the Boise Twilight Criterium (Boise, ID) and the Cascade Cycling Classic (Bend, OR), just over two weeks prior to the Tour of Utah. The format features a professional team time trial & circuit road race, a full day of criterium racing for multiple categories, and a mass-start, gran fondo style ride on the final day of the event called The BIG Ride. Race Director and Event Director Kurt Stockton noted: “We looked at a number of cities and towns throughout Montana, and while each presented something unique geographically and culturally, Missoula really stood out and will make a great hub for this event. We’re looking forward to the future when the Tour of Montana grows to become a multi-day stage race across the state of Montana highlighting all those great communities.”
Having gained support from the Montana Office of Tourism, and the city of Missoula, including Mayor John Engen, the Tour of Montana has been working to secure corporate sponsors for the event. “We want long-term partners who are as equally invested in the Tour and Festival as the community. We aren’t looking for blank checks in exchange for a banner a company can slap their logo on. We call our sponsor platform ‘Beyond the Banner Marketing’ and what that means is us working directly with sponsors to help them create a partner program that fits their needs,” says Adamson.
Home to Adventure Cycling’s headquarters in Missoula, MT, with a network of communities throughout the state that welcome the many cycling tourists who pedal through Montana each season, and cities and towns proactively building bicycle infrastructure, Montana is fast becoming recognized as a great place to bicycle. With two National Parks: Yellowstone and Glacier, sixteen state parks, world-class trout rivers, and vibrant cities, tourists from around the world come here each year to experience the natural wonders of Montana’s breathtaking landscape, discover a bit of the Western hospitality and charm, and to participate in the many outdoor recreation options available to them.