Colorado’s best mountain towns host the USA Pro Challenge cycling tour including Aspen, Breckenridge, Steamboat Springs and now Arapahoe Basin and Copper Mountain.
The 2015 USA Pro Challenge swings into action in its fifth year with a new circuit start in Steamboat Springs on Monday, August 17th and then it makes its way through another eight stunning host cities for the race finale in Denver on Sunday, August 23, 2015.
The Rocky Mountains of Colorado serve as home for the USA Pro Challenge, and every year since its inception over a million fans get to witness the world’s best cyclists, iconic routes and lung-piercing climbs of the seven stage event. With the State of Colorado containing 28 of the 50 highest peaks in the United States, it’s no surprise the race is a favorite for the world’s top teams and cyclists.
“Each of our 2015 host cities offers something unique and special to the 5th anniversary of the Pro Challenge,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of USA Pro Challenge. “We’re confident that this year’s route will provide the most exciting week of racing yet. We have added new cities and a dramatic mountaintop finish that will prove to be a fierce battleground for riders eager to show they have what it takes to compete on a new climb up Loveland Pass.”
The Pro Challenge has grown into the largest spectator event in Colorado history with tremendous crowds enjoying the weeklong race action and event festivities. New additions to this year’s race include: Arapahoe Basin, Loveland Pass, Copper Mountain and a lung buster time-trial in Breckenridge, a new twist for a familiar host city of past races. This year the USA Pro Challenge also pays homage to the inaugural race in 2011 with a repeat of that year’s final stage – from Golden to Denver.
The 2015 USA Pro Challenge race is back with a combination of familiar host cities and new communities added into the mix.
Highlights of the route include:
Stage 1 – Steamboat Springs Circuit – Monday, August 17, 2015
After a brief venture onto the rolling roads of Routt County in 2013, the USA Pro Challenge knew it had to make a return to put on a classic circuit race. The quiet roads offer straights, twists, and a few rather steep surprises. Match that with the fan favorite host city of Steamboat Springs, and you have the makings of a great opening stage.
This 49-mile circuit will be completed twice by the peloton, creating great spectator opportunities both in Steamboat Springs and for on course locations like the Rt. 27 KOM climb and the town of Oak Creek. Will Steamboat Springs be treated to another classic sprint finish or will the challenges of Routt County create an opportunity for a surprise first yellow jersey of 2015? Either way, the fans of Steamboat Springs will be treated to quite a show.
Stage 2 – Steamboat Springs to Arapahoe Basin – Tuesday, August 18, 2015
As the Pro Challenge says goodbye to its overall start host, Steamboat Springs, it welcomes a new member to the family with the race’s first visit to Arapahoe Basin. Leaving Steamboat Springs there is little time to settle in before the pros have to tackle Rabbit Ears Pass.
From there, this familiar route heads south through Kremmling, around the Green Mtn. Reservoir, and continues through Silverthorne and Dillon. Unlike years past, the 2015 Pro Challenge will then turn east and suffer 5 miles up Loveland Pass to Arapahoe Basin. Look for jerseys to change hands, dreams fulfilled for some, expectations dashed for others, on this new mountain top finish.
Stage 3 – Copper Mountain to Aspen – Wednesday, August 19, 2015
Another new twist on an old favorite, but this time it is the opening that changes. Copper Mountain plays host to its first ever Pro Challenge stage and sends off Stage 3 in style, while familiar terrain and fans await the race on Independence Pass and the run into Aspen. No rest for the weary this day as the climbing starts right away with the ascent of Freemont Pass, followed by the gorgeous shores of Turquoise Lake and then a quick sprint through Leadville.
However that is only the appetizer as the main course awaits on the upper slopes of Independence Pass and then it’s down the breathtaking descent into Aspen where some of the most memorable moments in Pro Challenge history have played out. Oh, and by the way, over half of Stage 3 takes place above 10,000 feet. Bring your lungs.
Stage 4 – Aspen to Breckenridge – Thursday, August 20, 2015
This crowd-pleasing stage from 2013 is back for an encore in 2015 as it connects the Pro Challenge’s two most visited towns; Aspen and Breckenridge. Starting off with 20 miles of climbing up Independence Pass is a rude wake up call, but that is only the beginning.
The racers still have the climbs of Trout Creek Pass and Hoosier Pass to conquer, while sprints in Buena Vista and Fairplay dot the route to Breckenridge. Once in town one final obstacle stands between the riders and victory, the wall up Moonstone road and the drop down Boreas Pass to the finish where the always boisterous crowds of Breckenridge await.
Stage 5 – Breckenridge Time Trial – Friday, August 21, 2015
Completely new for 2015, the Breckenridge Time Trial will test all of a rider’s skills and will produce a truly worthy winner. The 8.5-mile time trial starts out flat for the pure time trialists. However, it’s not long before it’s back onto the climb up Moonstone road, still fresh in the pain file from the day before and a real test of climbing skills.
Finally, the race could be won or lost going downhill this day, as racers will push the limits on the Boreas Pass descent to shave seconds off their time. Whoever wins the day will certainly be one who can hammer the flats, dance up the climbs, and carve down the descents.
Stage 6 – Loveland to Ft. Collins – Saturday, August 22, 2015
The start and finish location of Stage 6 may be familiar, but what lies between the two is new and challenging.
The early flats and sprints in Windsor and Loveland hide the wicked side of the route that waits in the second half. It may not have the grand names or the huge elevation numbers, but the lower and smaller climbs of this stage still have a serious sting.
Climbing the north side of Carter Lake and then onto the new climb up Rist Canyon should get everyone’s attention. It may also present one of the last chances for overall contenders to make a move. Wrapping up with the jagged rollers of Horsetooth Reservoir before bombing into Ft. Collins, this stage proves that a race doesn’t need to reach 12’000′ to be epic.
Stage 7 – Golden to Denver – Sunday, August 23, 2015
For a finale the Pro Challenge goes back to its roots. This route was the final stage of the first Pro Challenge in 2011 and introduced the world to the cycling crowds on the Front Range.
After a short loop north of Golden the race will tackle its main obstacle of the day, the 4-mile climb of Lookout Mtn. Another quick pass of Golden and the race is screaming through Wheat Ridge and Lakewood en route to downtown Denver. Four laps of the familiar Denver circuit await and Civic Center Park, City Park, and 17th street will be treated to blazing speeds as the last prizes of the week are fought for over tooth and nail.
One of the most highly anticipated events on the race calendar, the 2015 USA Pro Challenge will test the riders’ strength and endurance over a 605 mile course. To give fans the opportunity to see their heroes up close and in action, each stage, with the exception of the individual time trial, will start with at least one circuit lap in the start city before leaving town.
The Little Nell in Aspen has a “Clip in with Christian” 3 night/4 day experience riding Aspen’s most famed roads with professional cyclists Christian Vande Velde, George Hincapie and Craig Lewis. Camp includes VIP access to Stage 3 of USA Pro Challenge, and many exciting events.