7-day stage race set for late August
By Summit Voice
The 2013 USA Pro Challenge features two new host cities and the return of the popular Vail time trial, race organizers said this week, announcing details of seven-day stage race through Colorado (Aug. 19-25).
“The most important thing to us in creating the route for the 2013 USA Pro Challenge was to find a course that would be safe and challenging for the riders, while providing ideal viewing locations for the crowds of spectators,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge.
The two new cities, Loveland and Fort Collins, will be featured in the penultimate stage of the race on Aug. 24, when contenders will have to make a move before the final time trial stage in Denver. Stage 6 will start on the plains, but aggressive climbers will have a chance to amp it up when the race heads up Big Thompson Canyon and into Devils Gulch before hitting Estes Park.
The race starts Aug. 19 in Aspen with a circuit of three 22-mile laps, with 3,080 feet of climbing in each lap, from downtown Aspen up to Snowmass Village. The next day (Aug. 20), the racers will climb to 12,000 feet elevation over Independence Pass and zoom through Buena Vista, Fairplay and Alma, before tackling Hoosier Pass from the south on the way to Breckenridge.
Stage 3 starts with a short, steep climb up Swan Mountain Road, followed by a cruise down the Blue River Valley, where racers will jockey for position before the showdown on Rabbit Ears Pass and the finish on Main Street in Steamboat Springs.
Then, the race heads south again toward Beaver Creek in what organizers are calling the Queen Stage. After a circuiting some of scenic ranching country around Steamboat, racers will head for the Historic Stage Bridge across the Colorado River before finishing with a steep climb up Bachelor Gulch, finishing in Beaver Creek Village.
The Stage 5 time trial (Aug. 23) up Vail Pass is wildly popular with spectators and could help decide the outcome of the race, as competitors will have to push themselves to the limit to stay in contention as the race nears its end.
After the Loveland to Fort Collins stage, the race will end with the Denver Circuit Race (Aug. 25), combining the best parts of the 2011 and 2012 Denver stages hitting all the Denver highlights: LoDo, City Park and Civic Center Park, in a stage that will be ideal for spectators.
“We’ve set out to create the greatest professional cycling event in the U.S. and with each edition the route continues to evolve, the competition continues to be fierce and the fans continue to come out in droves,” said Hunter.
Host city information, maps and elevation profiles are available on the race website at http://usaprocyclingchallenge.com/2013-route.