Getting close to the action on a cycling tour

By Jeri Clausing
InsightYou may have heard about or seen the popularity of cycling, especially among younger luxury travelers. And for biking enthusiasts not content to simply watch the sport's elite athletes compete, one company is offering a unique package this summer.

Denver-based NextGreatTrip has partnered with the USA Pro Challenge to put together an exclusive eight-day tour of the cycling event as it crosses the Rocky Mountains. In addition to flying participants to each stage of the race in a private jet, the tour offers an opportunity for participants to ride parts of the course with a pro and drive alongside the competitors as they race.

Jeri Clausing"Our business is about creating experiences of a lifetime, and it's a thrill for us to highlight what we do best through an event that's not only on the world's radar but also happens to be in our own backyard," said Tom Filippini, founder and CEO of NextGreatTrip.

The package, which runs Aug. 17 through 24 with prices starting at $9,500, includes charter flights between Aspen, Crested Butte, Colorado Springs, Vail and Denver/Boulder aboard a 30-seat Dornier-328 jet; seven nights in luxury hotels; and access to VIP viewing and hospitality tents at every stage.

Participants can ride parts of the course in advance of the competitors with Ron Kiefel, a seven-time Tour de France racer, Olympic cycling bronze medalist and member of the U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame.

"Cycling and 'bike tourism' is certainly an area that seems to hold strong appeal to consumers, particularly in our primary market of Colorado," Filippini said. He noted his company plans to launch more cycling-related packages following the USA Pro Challenge launch.

"The hassle, pain and expense of transporting valuable sports equipment, particularly bicycles, on commercial flights makes it a perfect fit for our business model of chartering private aircraft that have the capacity to transport such equipment," he said, emphasizing: "we don't charge baggage fees, not even for bikes!"
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