Coors Classic

Last updated
Coors International Bicycle Classic
Race details
DisciplineRoad stage race
Race directorMichael Aisner
First edition1980 (1980)
Editions9 as Coors, 14 total
Final edition1988
First winner Flag of the United States.svg John Howard (Red Zinger) Jonathan Boyer (Coors Classic)
Most wins Flag of the United States.svg Dale Stetina
Flag of the United States.svg Greg LeMond
2 times
Final winner Flag of the United States.svg Davis Phinney

The Coors International Bicycle Classic (1980–1988) was a stage race sponsored by the Coors Brewing Company. Coors was the race's second sponsor; the first, Celestial Seasonings, named the race after its premium tea Red Zinger, which began in 1975. Over the years, the event became America's national tour, listed as the fourth largest race in the world after the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia, and Vuelta a España. [ citation needed ] The race grew from 3 days of racing in its first years as the Red Zinger Bicycle Classic to 2 weeks in the later Coors Classic years. Race stages were held in Colorado in the early years expanding first from Boulder and Denver back to the Keystone ski resort, later adding Estes Park, Vail, Aspen and Grand Junction, before further expansion that included Wyoming, Nevada, California and Hawaii. All but the last year the race concluded with a short circuit in North Boulder Park. On August 4, 2010 Colorado governor Bill Ritter and cycling legend Lance Armstrong announced that they would revive stage racing in Colorado with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. It was a seven-day race held in August 2011.



Greg LeMond (w. 1981, 1985) during the 1986 Coors Classic. Greg Lemond Coors Classic.jpg
Greg LeMond (w. 1981, 1985) during the 1986 Coors Classic.

In 1975, Mo Siegel and John and Wyck Hay, founders of the Celestial Seasonings herbal tea company, launched the Red Zinger Bicycle Classic race to promote their new Red Zinger tea.

In 1979, Michael Aisner, the race's then PR director, bought the race for one dollar from Siegel, and with his blessing took the idea of a grander event to Peter Coors, the beer impresario.

Over the next eight years, the Coors Classic grew into two weeks of racing in California, Nevada, and Colorado, with stages in some years in Hawaii and Wyoming. The race's legendary merchandise had custom annual graphics, sold in every state (and even Japan and England), generating $1 million in 1987 and $1.5 million in 1988 in sales to help support the race.

The Red Zinger and Coors Classic stage races showcased world-class men and women's cycling throughout the scenic terrain of Colorado, California, Nevada, Wyoming, and Hawaii. The race was considered the fourth biggest race on the world cycling calendar and was ground-breaking as the single biggest women's stage race ever held.

The Coors Classic launched the careers of some of the world's greatest cyclists and paved the way for the sport's growth in the U.S.

A permanent tribute to the Classics was created in 2018 in North Boulder Park, where the race ended 12 of its 13 years. Plaques tell the stories of the race near a cobblestone Champions Plaza, where the 19 winner's names are inscribed.


1975 John Howard Flag of the United States.svg  United States Hannah NorthFlag of the United States.svg  United States
1976 John Howard Flag of the United States.svg  United States No women's race
1977 Wayne Stetina Flag of the United States.svg  United States Connie Carpenter Flag of the United States.svg  United States
1978 George Mount Flag of the United States.svg  United States Keetie van Oosten-Hage Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands
1979 Dale Stetina Flag of the United States.svg  United States Keetie van Oosten-Hage Flag of the Netherlands.svg  Netherlands
1980 Jonathan Boyer Flag of the United States.svg  United States Beth Heiden Flag of the United States.svg  United States
1981 Greg LeMond Flag of the United States.svg  United States Connie Carpenter Flag of the United States.svg  United States
1982 Patrocinio Jimenez Flag of Colombia.svg  Colombia Connie Carpenter Flag of the United States.svg  United States
1983 Dale Stetina Flag of the United States.svg  United States Rebecca Twigg Flag of the United States.svg  United States
1984 Doug Shapiro Flag of the United States.svg  United States Maria Canins Flag of Italy.svg  Italy
1985 Greg LeMond Flag of the United States.svg  United States Jeannie Longo Flag of France.svg  France
1986 Bernard Hinault Flag of France.svg  France Jeannie Longo Flag of France.svg  France
1987 Raúl Alcalá Flag of Mexico.svg  Mexico Jeannie Longo Flag of France.svg  France
1988 Davis Phinney Flag of the United States.svg  United States Inga Thompson Flag of the United States.svg  United States


Colorado National Monument, in western Colorado, site of the "Tour of the Moon" road race stages Colorado national monument 20030920 130827 2.1504x1000.jpg
Colorado National Monument, in western Colorado, site of the "Tour of the Moon" road race stages

The Coors International Bicycle Classic had many storied stages, including the world-renowned Morgul-Bismarck circuit. The site of the Grand Junction, Colorado, road race, the Colorado National Monument, was so exotic in appearance that the stage became known as "The Tour of the Moon" and was even featured in the Warner Brothers movie American Flyers. One recurring stage near Snowmass, Colorado, was run up "Suicide Hill", a road so steep that it was heated in the winter. Races were run over mountains such as the Vail, Independence, and McClure Passes in Colorado. Popular recurring stages in California included San Francisco-area events such as a hill climb up to famed Coit Tower for a prologue and the Fisherman's Wharf Criterium and a road stage crossing the Sierra Nevada range. One year the race also started in Hawaii's Big Island in Hilo with a volcano circuit road race that had to be rerouted a month before the event when the perimeter road course was cut off by a lava flow from Kilauea. Another year a stage went from Wyoming's capitol, Cheyenne, to Colorado's capitol, Denver. The race finished every year but its last in North Boulder Park.

The Red Zinger/Coors Classic served as an inspiration for a youth bicycle road racing series in Colorado called the Red Zinger Mini Classics, which ran from 1981–1992, serving as a springboard for the development of several professional cyclists, including pro greats Bobby Julich, Jonathan Vaughters, Chris Wherry, Ruthie Matthes, Colby Pearce and Jimi Killen.

See also

Related Research Articles

Tom Danielson American road bicycle racer

Thomas "Tom" Danielson is an American former professional road racing cyclist who competed professionally between 2002 and 2015 for the Mercury Cycling Team (2002), the Saturn Cycling Team (2003), Fassa Bortolo (2004), Discovery Channel (2005–2007) and Cannondale–Garmin (2008–2015).

Celestial Seasonings is a tea company based in Boulder, Colorado, United States that specializes in herbal teas (tisanes), but also sells green, white, chai, and black teas. Their annual gross sales are approximately $100,000,000.

Jonathan Vaughters American racing cyclist and team manager

Jonathan James Vaughters is an American former professional racing cyclist and current manager of the EF Pro Cycling professional cycling team.

John Howard (cyclist) Olympic cyclist from the United States

John Howard is an Olympic cyclist from the United States, who set a land speed record of 152.2 miles per hour (245 km/h) while motor-pacing on a pedal bicycle on July 20, 1985 on Utah's Bonneville Salt Flats. This record was beaten in 1995 by Fred Rompelberg.

Roland Green is a retired Canadian mountain bike and road bicycle racer. Green was a member of the Canadian Olympic Mountain Bike Racing Team for the 2000 Summer Olympics, held in Sydney, Australia. He was a Commonwealth gold medalist at the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England, winning the MTB event on the same day as his birthday. Green dominated the world cup circuit of cross-country mountain biking from 2000 until 2003, becoming world champion in both 2001 and 2002. Roland also is the record holder of the Mount Doug Hill climb in his hometown of Victoria BC, Canada with a fast 4Min. 39sec which nobody has broken in 10 years. He was named VeloNews' Mountain Bike Man of the Year in 1999 and Canada's Male Cyclist of the Year in 2000. Green retired at the end of the 2005 racing season.

Scott Moninger is an American professional road racing cyclist. He was born October 20, 1966 in Atlanta, Georgia, grew up in Wichita, Kansas, and moved to Boulder, Colorado, in the mid 1980s to further his career in cycling. Moninger turned professional in 1991 with the Coors Light Team directed by Len Pettyjohn. Since then, he has won nearly every road race in North America with over 275 career victories, the most by any American rider at the time of retirement.

Alexi Singh Grewal is an American Olympic gold medalist and former professional road racing cyclist. At the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, Grewal became the first American man to win an Olympic gold medal in road cycling. He has two brothers, Rishi and Ranjeet, who were also top American cyclists, especially in mountain bike racing.

Ron Kiefel American racing cyclist

Ronald Alexander "Ron" Kiefel is a former professional road bicycle racer from the United States. Kiefel is a seven-time Tour de France racer, Olympic bronze medalist and member of the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame.

The Red Zinger Bicycle Classic (1975–1979) was a road bicycle racing stage race.

Chris Wherry is a professional road racing cyclist from Boulder, Colorado. In 2006, he wore the jersey of the United States National Road Race Champion, having won the event in 2005.

<i>American Flyers</i> 1985 film by John Badham

American Flyers is a 1985 American sports drama film about bicycle racing directed by John Badham and starring Kevin Costner, David Grant, Rae Dawn Chong, Alexandra Paul, Luca Bercovici and Janice Rule.

Robin Morton is an American former cycling team manager and was the first and only female manager in men's professional cycling. She also created the first Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) registered American professional road racing team in 1984. Cycling in Europe is a traditionally male sport and includes rules prohibiting women from the race caravans. At managers' meetings prior to races in Europe, the race organization would vote on whether Morton would be allowed to ride in the team car. Robin was elected to the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame in 2016.

Red Zinger Mini Classics

Red Zinger Mini Classics (RZMC) is a series of youth boys and girls road bicycle races held annually across the state of Colorado from 1981–1992, and revived again in 2010. The RZMC races served as an opportunity for young cyclists to get involved in the sport, and attracted hundreds of young boys and girls age 10-15 to each racing event.

Eddy Gragus is a former professional cyclist. In 1994 he won the Tour of Yugoslavia as an amateur. In 1996 he won the USPRO National Road Race Championships, and a stage on the Tour of China. In 1999 he won the USPRO Saturn Tour. He raced professionally for the Montgomery Bell Professional Cycling Team and U.S. Postal Service Pro Cycling Team among others.

Todd Gogulski is a former cycling TV commentator for NBC Universal Sports and Versus and a former professional road racer.

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge, also known as USA Pro Challenge, was an annual multi-day professional road bicycle racing stage race that first took place in Colorado in 2011. Originally announced on August 4, 2010 by Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and Lance Armstrong as the Quiznos Pro Challenge, the event carried on the state's cycling legacy, which was most notably highlighted by the Coors Classic that ran from 1980 to 1988. On February 4, 2011 Richard E. Schaden, founder of Quiznos and the event's co-chairman, announced the investment of an initial $10 million to secure the initial growth and longevity of the race. The USA Pro Cycling Challenge was one of only three current 2.HC rated races in the United States, and was considered one of the most important pro cycling races in the U.S. After the 2015 edition, Schaden was unable to find a title sponsor for the 2016 edition, and subsequently left as an investor. The organizers were hoping to find a new investor to bring the race back for a 2017 edition, but the race folded after the 2015 edition.

The Morgul-Bismark Loop is a popular cycling route or stage south of Boulder, Colorado. It was featured in the bygone Red Zinger Bicycle Classic and Coors International Bicycle Classic, and is still commonly ridden today. Riders who have traversed the stage include Greg LeMond and Davis Phinney. The course was also used by the Red Zinger Mini Classics youth road bicycle racing series from 1981-1992.

Alex Howes American road cyclist

Alex Howes is an American professional road racing cyclist, who currently rides for UCI WorldTeam EF Pro Cycling. Howes turned professional, on a full-time basis, in 2012.

The Colorado Classic is a four-stage cycling race that was first held in 2017. First organized with both men's and women's races, the men's race was discontinued after the 2018 edition; the Classic continues as a women-only event. The men's version of the race was designated as 2.HC and was part of the UCI America Tour. In 2017, the race was 313 miles (504 km) long and was held in Colorado Springs, Breckenridge, and Denver. In 2018, the first two stages were in Vail and the last two were in Denver. The Denver stages were accompanied by a music and cycling fan fest extravaganza called Velorama.

Coors Light Cycling Team was an elite road bicycle racing cycling team in the United States. The team was very prominent in races held in the United States they didn't achieve many other major results.