If you are making the trip to Colorado for the USAPCC, you’ll want to get the biggest bang for your racing buck as you line the roads to watch cycling’s most elite riders. In an effort to help you with this, we take the 510 miles and distill them down to seven key places that are more than ideal for watching the inaugural Tour live.

Prologue, August 22: Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods
The Garden of the Gods

Located in Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods is one of the iconic natural areas in the state. Get to the park early to check out the latest Tour tech and watch the riders warm up for the prologue. At just five miles in length, it’s easy enough to walk or ride alongside the course to get a good feel for the entire stage. After the stage, head to the podium downtown to see the race’s first-ever leader’s jersey awarded.

Stage Facts:

  • First rider starts at: 1:15 pm (MDT)
  • Distance: 5.18 miles
  • Total climb: 219 feet. Net loss: 367 feet.
  • Estimated Finish: 3:45 pm (MDT)
  • Start: Inside Garden of the Gods Park
  • Finish: West Colorado Avenue and Cascade Avenue
  • Downloads: Spectator Guide (pdf)
  • TV: Versus Pre-show at 1:30 pm; Live Race at 2 pm; Post-show at 9 pm (MDT)
  • VIDEO: Riding the prologue with VeloNews and Rapha Continental
2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, prologue map
The Garden of the Gods prologue in Colorado Springs

Stage 1, August 23: Mount Crested Butte

The race will pass through historic downtown Crested Butte. The finish — and our recommended viewing spot — is up the hill at Mount Crested Butte.

The uphill finish at Mount Crested Butte could see a GC shake-up. From up on the Gothic Road climb at nearly 10,000 feet, watch the finale play out down valley with binoculars and ring your bells for the small group sprint at the ski area. Bring your mountain bike and your Thai food appetite because CB does both exceptionally well.

Stage Facts:

2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, stage 1 map
Stage 1: Salida to Mount Crested Butte

Stage 2, August 24: Independence Pass

Independence Pass
Independence Pass

We could see one of two things on Independence Pass: massive time gaps as over-eager GC riders blow up or a conservative, marked ride to the summit. Either way, the energy on the pass will be incredible. Camping space is limited, so get there early – up to two days before the race – or ride up from Aspen the morning of. The final four miles of the climb are the most treacherous; it’s there that you’ll want to set up your waffle iron and mini-keg and pull on your ridiculous costume. You may not see the race winner on the front, but you’ll definitely see who won’t be wearing yellow in Denver.

Stage Facts:

  • Start: 10 a.m. (MDT)
  • Distance: 131.1 miles
  • Total climb: 9,746 feet. Net gain: 195 feet.
  • Estimated Finish: 3-4:15 pm (MDT)
  • Start: East Virginia Avenue and Main Street, Gunnison
  • Finish: Main Street at Galina Street, Aspen
  • Downloads: Map (pdf) | Spectator guide (pdf)
  • TV: Versus Pre-show at 1:30 pm; Live Race at 2 pm; Post-show at 9 pm (MDT)
  • VIDEO: Riding stage 2 with VeloNews and Rapha Continental
2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, stage 2 map
Stage 2: Gunnison to Aspen

Stage 3, August 25: East Vail Time Trial

The 10 miles between Vail and the finish of the stage 3 time trial are perhaps the most decisive of the race. If a rider can’t recover from the previous day’s 130 miles, he could lose minutes. Equipment choice will be key — riders will have to weigh aerodynamics against weight, particularly if the down-valley winds crank up.

Stage Facts:

  • Start: 1 p.m. (MDT)
  • Distance: 10 miles
  • Total climb: 1,783 feet.
  • Estimated Finish: 3:45 pm (MDT)
  • Start: Vail Village
  • Finish: Ten Mile Canyon National Recreation Trail on Vail Pass
  • TV: Versus Pre-show at 1:30 pm; Live Race at 2 pm; Post-show at 9 pm (MDT)
  • Downloads: Map (pdf) | Spectator Guide (pdf)
2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, stage 3 map
Stage 3: Vail time trial

Stage 4, August 26: Downtown Steamboat Springs

Downtown Steamboat Springs is the finish of stage 4 and the start of stage 5.

Steamboat Springs is the only town to see both a stage finish and start, and as close to a lock as there is for a bunch sprint. Scope out the second level shops near the finish for prime viewing of the 50+ mph drag race in cowboy country. Douse your thirst with Rio margaritas and make it out for the start of what may be the tour’s last decisive day at Mount Werner.

Stage Facts:

  • Start: 12:30 pm (MDT)
  • Distance: 82.8 miles
  • Total climb: 5,034 feet
  • Estimated Finish: 3:30-4 pm (MDT)
  • Start: Route 6, Avon, Colorado
  • Finish: Highway 40 (Lincoln Avenue) near 6th Street
  • TV: Versus Pre-show at 1:30 pm; Live Race at 2 pm; Post-show at 9 pm (MDT)
  • Downloads: Map (pdf) | Spectator guide (pdf)
2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, stage 4 map
Stage 4: Avon to Steamboat Springs

Stage 5, August 27: Swan Mountain

Rabbit Ears Pass is the day's first major climb. But the fireworks may come on Swan Mountain Road outside Breckenridge.

While short and all together not too steep, the two-mile climb along the south side of Dillon Reservoir near the stage 5 finish in Breckenridge may be the final jumping off point for the GC contenders. Nine miles from the uphill finish into Breckenridge, a strong group could go clear here on Swan Mountain, unless there is a strong headwind, and make time on a weary field ahead of the final stage.

Stage Facts:

  • Start: 11:20 am (MDT)
  • Distance: 105.2 miles
  • Total climb: 8,327 feet
  • Estimated Finish: 3:30-4 pm (MDT)
  • Start: Highway 40 (Lincoln Avenue), Steamboat Springs, Colorado
  • Finish: North Main Street near Wellington Road, Breckenridge
  • TV: Versus Pre-show at 1:30 pm; Live Race at 2 pm; Post-show at 9 pm (MDT)
  • Downloads: Map (pdf) | Spectator guide (pdf)
Stage 5 2011 USA PCC

Stage 6, August 28: Lookout Mountain

Lookout Mountain is a popular ride for locals

On the edge of metro Denver in Golden, the race’s final climb up Lookout Mountain will be a mad house. Bring your bike to the start in downtown Golden and when the riders roll out, head west to the climb. Leave your running shoes at home and enjoy the spectacle of the leader’s final ascent toward the State Capitol. Roll back to the Washington Street bars in Golden to catch the finale on TV.

Stage Facts:

  • Start: 10:45 am (MDT)
  • Distance: 73.8 miles
  • Total climb: 3,129 feet
  • Estimated Finish: 1:15-1:45 pm (MDT)
  • Start: Washington Avenue, downtown Golden, Colorado
  • Finish: State Capitol, Civic Center Park, Denver, Colorado
  • TV: NBC Live at noon (MDT)
  • Downloads: Map (pdf) | Spectator guide (pdf)
2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, stage 6 map
Stage 6: Golden to Denver