Not everyone in the cycling world is ready to hang it up for the season. For some, there is a last hurrah. Cycling fans are excited because there are visitors in Colorado, the Centennial State. Crowds flocked to the Colorado Rockies to be spectators for Stage one of the Men’s USA Pro Challenge. Featuring another challenging course, the fifth annual race will spotlight the best of the best. Cities in Colorado that have hosted the event include Vail, Steamboat Springs, Beaver Creek, Golden, Boulder, Gunnison, and Aspen. Colorado Springs was honored to host a stage in 2014, and hopes to again next year. The competition brings talented racers to showcase places like Vail Pass, Garden of the Gods, Monarch Mountain, Flagstaff Mountain, Arapahoe Basin, Bachelor Gulch, and the popular ski resort, Breckenridge. The USA is competing with riders from 30 different countries including Russia, Australia, Spain, Italy and more. There are 16 teams that will participate. The race will last for 7 days and there will be a total of 600 miles. The Tour of Utah preceded the USA Pro Challenge for several of the cyclist’s respectively. The race began Monday in Steamboat Springs, which sits at approximately 8,000 ft. in altitude. They will complete two 50 mile circuits before moving on to the next stage. The thin air at the higher elevations proves to be a challenge indeed. In 2011, there were ascents reaching as high as 12,000 ft. over Independence Pass.
Americans dominated the race on their “home turf” in previous years, and this year seems to be no different. Those not making an appearance in the competition are last year’s winner, Tejay van Garderen of Aspen, CO, who is only 27 years old. He is racing the Vuelta in Spain. Also missing this year is the 2nd place winner in 2014, Tom Danielson, who is suspended. Danielson tested positive for synthetic testosterone in July. He is awaiting results of his test from the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, which is located in Colorado Springs. Fans should be keeping an eye on Taylor Phinney of Boulder, a former track world champion and stage winner at last year’s Amgen Tour of California. Phinney’s father, Davis Phinney stood atop the podium as champion of the final Coors Classic 23 years ago.
In addition to the Men’s race, there is also the inaugural, invitation only, Women’s USA Pro Challenge. Teams will start next Friday, August 21st at Breckenridge. The cities hosting the Women’s race will be Loveland, Fort Collins, and Golden, CO. This is the first time for a race of this caliber since 1986. Although there are many international riders, there are several cyclist’s that reside in Colorado. Among the favorites to win are two-time Olympic gold medalist Kristin Armstrong, and two-time Giro Rosa winner, Mara Abbott. The team also features Andrea Dvorak, who recently won Oregon’s Cascade Classic, and top time trialist Allie Dragoo. The race will go on for three full days and hopes to draw a huge crowd. “We are very pleased with the response and support from the women’s teams who are going to provide three days of exciting racing at the inaugural Women’s USA Pro Challenge,” said Sean Petty, the Women’s USA Pro Challenge race director and the former executive of USA Cycling. “The women will be energized by the challenging courses, huge crowds and great host communities.”
This is the biggest sporting event with the greatest degree of talent that has ever come to Colorado. The race’s popularity is surpassed only by the Tour de France. The race brings as much as a hundred million dollars in tourist revenue, each summer. The world’s best cyclist’s are making a huge impact on the community. The entire race is broadcast internationally and fans can attest to being an integral part of the event. The race finishes in Downtown Denver. The growth of American cycling simply cannot be denied.