12:30pm

Thu April 25, 2013
USA Pro Challenge

2013 Pro Challenge Route Goes From Grueling To Picturesque

The route for the 2013 USA Pro Challenge cycling race was announced Thursday. The race, taking place August 19-25th across Colorado, will include stops in Fort Collins and Loveland.

Already the largest spectator event in Colorado history, the race will visit eight cities during the week long event.

Race CEO Shawn Hunter says most stages in this year’s challenge are above the highest points found in the Tour de France. "So we start high, and end up going higher all week, including over 12,000 feet on Independence pass." He says by comparison, the highest point of the Tour de France is around 6,400 feet. "So when they reach their mountain peaks, that's about 1,500 feet lower then where we start." Hunter says.

The race begins Monday, August 19th at 7,900 feet with an Aspen circuit race of three 22-mile laps with 3,080 feet of elevation gain per lap. In a statement, challenge organizers say “the new for 2013 Aspen/Snowmass Circuit may be short on distance, but it packs a punch that will welcome the riders to Colorado.”

On day two, riders travel from Aspen to Breckenridge up Independence Pass, a 12,092 foot climb. From there racers will pedal through Buena Vista, Fairplay and Alma. Racers speed into Breckenridge after a race down Boreas Pass.

The top of Independence Pass, 12,095 feet above sea level.
Credit Nan Palmero / Creative Commons/Flickr

Stage 3 sends racers from Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs where organizers say climbing the eastern slope will challenge many cyclists. That leads up to the Queen Stage of the race, Steamboat Springs to Beaver Creek.

For 2013, racers will take new country roads around Routt County on an updated approach to Beaver Creek. Riders will endure a steep grade up Bachelors Gulch including pitches up to 18 percent and a ‘technical decent.’ That's followed by a 2 KM climb up to Beaver Creek Village.

August 23rd brings the Vail Individual Time Trial. Race organizers say the 2013 trial course has roots in the old Coors Classic which ran from 1980 through 1988.

Saturday, riders will experience two new cities to the race, Loveland and Fort Collins. The day will start outside Loveland with flat roads through Windsor and back to Loveland. Racers then sprint up Big Thompson Canyon, onto Devils Gulch before hitting Estes Park and back down the canyon past Horsetooth Reservoir.

The Challenge culminates Sunday, August 25th with a circuit race in the heart of Denver. This year, race organizers took what they say were the best parts of the 2011 and 2012 Denver stages and combined them into a brand new circuit. LoDo, Civic Center Park and City Park will be on display as racers sprint to the finish near the Colorado State Capital.

The race attracted more than 1 million spectators last year, making it one of the largest cycling events in U.S. history. The third annual 599-mile course is also a boon economically for the state. According to the Northern Colorado Business Report, the 2012 race generated an economic impact of $99.6 million. In 2011 the impact was $83 million.

A wrap up of the 2012 Pro Challenge: