USA Pro Challenge unveils compact, familiar footprint for 2013

Race will center around Colorado's central mountains, with a return to the Vail time trial and a new stage in Northern Colorado

BOULDER, Colorado (VN) — USA Pro Challenge organizers unveiled a compact, familiar route on Wednesday for the race’s third edition and 2012 winner Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) confirmed that he would be back in 2013.

The 2013 Pro Challenge will kick off in the familiar surrounds of Aspen, Colorado, with a circuit race between the mountain town and nearby Snowmass. The 2011 Aspen Women’s Challenge utilized a hilly Snowmass circuit in 2011 in a stage won by Kristin Armstrong; it is unknown at this point how closely the stage 1 circuit will resemble that route.

From Aspen/Snowmass, the race sets out on its second stage for Breckenridge. The route should climb Independence Pass out of Aspen before an ascent of Fremont Pass outside of Leadville and a run-in to Breckenridge similar to the fifth stage of the race’s 2011 edition.

On Wednesday August 21, the race will set out from Breckenridge for Steamboat Springs, where Elia Viviani won the first of three consecutive stages for Liquigas-Cannondale in 2011, and could approach the finish via Rabbit Ears Pass or Gore Pass.

The race will return the next day to Beaver Creek, the site of Jen Voigt’s outlandish solo win in 2012. The uphill finish in Beaver Creek is a short, power climbers’ affair and should return in the 2013 edition.

With its four opening stages focusing on just four communities, organizers said in a statement that the “consolidated footprint and multiple back-to-back stages… will ensure that spectators in host cities will have many opportunities to root for their favorite rider or team.”

The Vail Time Trial returns to the race on Friday August 23. While organizers would not release route details, it is likely that the race will return to the Vail Pass route made famous in the Coors Classic and utilized in 2011 when Levi Leipheimer took control of the general classification after tying on time with Vande Velde.

The only new cities to host a stage start or finish are the Northern Colorado communities of Loveland and Fort Collins, which will see the penultimate stage play out over what is expected to be a mountainous route finishing near the downtown of the latter.

“With the addition of Loveland and Fort Collins we are adding two cities that have built a community around the cycling culture,” said the race’s CEO and co-chairman Shawn Hunter. “We are thrilled to incorporate their enthusiasm as we continue to showcase Colorado as the center of the nation’s cycling spirit.”

The race will wrap with a Denver circuit race on Sunday August 25. The race’s inaugural edition closed similarly, with finishing circuits in Denver after a start in Golden, and crowds were thick around Civic Center Park.

“Riders now know that there is no race in America like the USA Pro Challenge, and these host cities help ensure cycling’s world stage returns to Colorado for seven days of grueling competition,” said Hunter. “Each of these communities will be on an international stage as we partner with them to ensure the USA Pro Challenge takes its place as America’s greatest race.”

Organizers will announce full route details in Spring 2013.

2013 USA Pro Challenge stages
August 19 Stage 1: Aspen/Snowmass Circuit
August 20 Stage 2: Aspen/Snowmass – Breckenridge
August 21 Stage 3: Breckenridge – Steamboat Springs
August 22 Stage 4: Steamboat Springs – Beaver Creek
August 23 Stage 5: Vail Time Trial (ITT)
August 24 Stage 6: Loveland – Fort Collins
August 25 Stage 7: Denver Circuit