BMC Racing, Astana among 16 teams confirmed for 2012 USA Pro Challenge

Leipheimer, Evans, Fränk Schleck among the riders headed for Colorado in August

The USA Pro Challenge today announced the 16 teams to contest the second-year event in late August. Among the squads taking to Colorado will be American teams BMC Racing and Garmin-Sharp, as well as U.S. road champion Timmy Duggan’s Liquigas-Cannondale team and defending champion Levi Leipheimer with Omega Pharma-Quick Step.

“After the 2011 USA Pro Challenge, we had such an overwhelmingly positive response from the teams that it was difficult to narrow it down to 16 teams for the 2012 edition,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the Pro Challenge. “The USA Pro Challenge is building a reputation for having the highest caliber teams in the world, creating fierce competition in the Colorado Rockies. I can’t wait to see what these teams have in store for us this August.”

According to race officials, 2011 Tour de France champion Cadel Evans and George Hincapie (BMC Racing) will take part in the seven-stage race that opens on August 20 in Durango, Colorado. Hincapie said last month that he planned to retire after the race. Also confirmed to start are defending champion Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step), Fränk Schleck, Chris Horner and Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Nissan), and Janez Brajkovic (Astana). Andy Schleck (RadioShack) will most likely take part in the Vuelta a España in August as he returns from a fractured pelvis.

“After winning the Tour de France last year and seeing the enthusiasm of the fans, I didn’t think anything could match it, but then I came to Colorado. Seeing the huge crowds that were along the route supporting us at the USA Pro Challenge was remarkable and really motivated us to do our best,” said Evans. “The course and the mountains were beautiful, but incredibly challenging, and I can’t wait to take them on again. I knew last August that I wanted to return to the race in 2012.”

The American-managed, China-registered Champion System squad headed by Ed Beamon will take part after missing out on the Amgen Tour of California. Russian development squad RusVelo is also in in its first year, while Team Type 1-Sanofi, Spidertech-C10 and UnitedHealthcare are each back for a second time.

The Bontrager-Livestrong team of Baby Giro winner Joe Dombrowski headlines the Continental teams to make selection. Like the Bontrager squad, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies did not compete in the inaugural edition of the race and will take part this year. Colombian squad EPM-UNE is back, along with Bissell and Exergy.

The 2012 USA Pro Challenge runs August 20-26, starting in Durango and finishing with an individual time trial in Denver.

Teams for the 2012 USA Pro Challenge

UCI ProTeams
Astana (KAZ)
BMC Racing (USA)
Garmin-Sharp (USA)
Liquigas-Cannondale (ITA)
Omega Pharma-Quick Step (BEL)
RadioShack-Nissan (LUX)

UCI Professional Continental Teams
Champion System (CHN)
RusVelo (RUS)
SpiderTech-C10 (CAN)
Team Type 1-Sanofi (USA)
UnitedHealthcare (USA)

UCI Continental Teams
Bissell (USA)
Bontrager-Livestrong (USA)
Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies (USA)
Exergy (USA)