2012 USA Pro Challenge — Stage 1

Durango — Telluride (125.6mi)

Monday 20 August

This year’s Grand Depart in Durango will begin with a three-lap neutral parade through downtown, then a larger 5-mile loop that encompasses most of town, Fort Lewis College and, then, heads back downtown for the race’s first sprint line of 2012. All of this means that well positioned spectators could see the racers three or four times before they leave town.

After passing over the tracks of Durango’s famous narrow gauge railroad, the riders will tackle the Hesperus Climb on US160 before rolling along the high windswept plains toward the second sprint line in Dolores.

Then, things get a bit more interesting. As the racers leave Dolores they start a gradual canyon climb that lasts over 30 miles. The grade will gradually increase until a full-blown climb takes them over Lizard Head Pass at 10,222 feet. The first climbing test of the week could allow for the climbers to distance the competition, but any time gaps gained going up will have to be maintained on the 15-mile descent into Telluride.

The first-time finishing town will offer scenic grandeur that will be hard to match. A tight and technical finish awaits: a small roundabout and four turns in the last mile greet the riders before the final sprint.