Cycling Challenge will take place August 20 through 26, a week proclaimed by Governor John Hickenlooper as “Colorado Cycling Holiday,” and travel through twelve host cities from Durango to Denver. More than 1 million spectators are expected to once again line the route to see if Levi Leipheimer will defend his title as reigning champion, while millions more around the world watch the race live on television and online through the Tour Tracker.
The route will take riders on a heart-pounding journey through the breathtaking Colorado Rockies. After making history in the inaugural year by traveling to the highest elevation of any race in North America or Europe (higher than the most challenging route on the Tour de France), this year’s race will take the riders to an altitude of 12,000 ft. not once, but three separate times, and will include a finish on iconic Flagstaff Mountain on the penultimate day. “In determining the route for the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, we wanted to showcase as much of the Rocky Mountains as possible, while creating a challenging course for the riders that would provide ideal viewing locations for spectators,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. “This year, the route will take the riders through more mountain passes than any other race of its kind, with five topping out at a minimum of 10,000 ft.”
The first stage will travel from Durango to Telluride, while stage two will go from Montrose to Crested Butte. During the third stage, racers will peddle from Gunnison to Aspen. Day four will see the competitors race from Aspen to Beaver Creek, and on day five they will be a thrilling ride from Breckenridge to Colorado Springs. Stage six, on Saturday, August 25, will go from Golden to Boulder, with a side trip up to Nederland, along the Peak to Peak Highway, and a breakneck descent down Route 7 into Lyons! The final stage of the race will be an individual time trial through downtown Denver.
“Each day of this route is a challenge; there will be nowhere to hide for these riders,” added Hunter. “Staging the Individual Time Trial on the last day will punctuate the drama, as we expect any time lead could be taken away with the challenge and intensity of a circuit sprint. With this course, we should witness intense competition right down to the last minute.” A highly anticipated event on the race calendar, the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge will test the riders’ strength and endurance over a more than 680-mile course. More information on the event can be found online at USAProCyclingChallenge.com and on Twitter at @USAProChallenge.