VAIL Cycling fans turned back the clock Thursday at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
Retro jerseys, dating to the roots of Colorado bicycle racing, frequently appeared among the thousands who gathered in Vail and along the route for Stage 3s individual time trial.
For some, the jerseys from the Coors Classic and Red Zinger Classic represent much more than sweat-wicking, wind-resisting miracle fabrics.
We used to go to the Coors Classic all the time, said 68-year-old Bruce Thumm of Golden, proudly wearing an original 7-Eleven team jersey from the 1980s. So, were here to watch a second time trial going up Vail Pass.
The last one he watched burned itself into his memory banks.
The last time, we saw Greg LeMond, Bernard Hinault and Andy Hampsten, all the boys, Thumm said.
And this is virtually the same course, he said.
Thumm pointed out the Coors Classic names painted onto the pavement back in the mid-1980s still are faintly visible.
The old names have faded with time; you have to look closely, he said.
New names in fresh paint mark the inaugural 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which has been marked by large crowds through the first four days of the event.
Retro is the only way, said Eric Goody of Elizabeth, a lifelong Colorado resident.
This is the only time youll see me in the leaders jersey, he said with a friendly laugh. The Denver television station cameraman sported a Red Zinger Classic leaders jersey from that 1980s era.
Goody said he remembered the Coors Classic races when he was first getting into cycling.
The Tour of the Moon ... in Grand Junction, I wish theyd bring that back for this race, Goody said of the Coors stage that rolled through the Colorado National Monument at Grand Junction. The Tour of the Moon was featured in the Kevin Costner cycling film, American Flyers.
Goody said he wasnt about to miss the first new pro races in Colorado.
I was in Aspen (Wednesday), Goody said. The crowds downtown were amazing.
His cycling pal, Jim Hucks of Boulder, didnt want to miss out either.
I camped Tuesday night on top of Independence Pass, Hucks said. There was not ... an open spot along the whole road.
Hucks said he wore his vintage 7-Eleven jersey a day earlier as the cyclists crested Independence and started their rainy descent into Aspen.
And he knows his Colorado cycling history.
My fondest Coors Classic memory is the 83 Tivoli Criterium (in Boulder). I remember seeming LeMond and seeing Alexi Grewal ... all those guys.
I didnt realize the significance of what I was seeing at the time, he said.
Now, of course, I realize that was the ... core of American cycling, Hucks said.
The two then hopped on their bikes and pedaled out to the time trial course for a closer look at the new generation.
Weve resurrected one of the traditional courses from the Coors Classic with the time trial in Vail, said Jim Birrell, the race director for the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
Birrell, who was the race director for the final Coors Classic, said the race organizers wanted a link to Colorados cycling history particularly the Coors Classic. With more than 28 years of managing bike races, Birrell was selected to handle the 2011 reintroduction in Colorado.
The time trial in Vail, which drew large crowds more than two decades ago, was deluged by race spectators Thursday. The parking structures in Vail Village and Lionshead were filled by 11 a.m., with the race start more than two hours away.
Parking then was opened along the Interstate 70 frontage road, a tact usually reserved for ski holiday weekends.
The cycling festival will continue today with a road stage from Avon to Steamboat Springs via Wolcott, State Bridge, Yampa and Oak Creek. Then to Breckenridge on Saturday. Then home to Denver on Sunday.
Then the clock will turn to the present, where a new pro in his new kit will be right on time.