Endurance: USA Pro Challenge

USA Pro Challenge unveils punchy route

April, 25, 2013
4/25/13
5:26
PM ET
CyclistsDoug Pensinger/Getty ImagesOrganizers unveiled a new, compact route for the third annual 2013 USA Pro Challenge on Thursday.
FORT COLLINS, Colo. (VN) — USA Pro Challenge organizers unveiled a route for the 2013 race on Thursday morning that will feature a return to the Vail Pass time trial, a frantic, hilly stage in northern Colorado, and a final-day circuit race in downtown Denver. The punchy, compact route should lend itself to aggressive racing throughout the event's seven days and live up to the race's history of nail-biting GC contests.

As is customary, the race's top executive, CEO Shawn Hunter, said in a press release that he thought the 2013 route was the event’s best yet.

"We've set out to create the greatest professional cycling event in the U.S. and with each edition the route continues to evolve, the competition continues to be fierce, and the fans continue to come out in droves," said Hunter. "In looking at the route we have outlined, each day is a challenge, which will create some amazing racing. This year is looking like it will be the best yet."

The third annual race, which runs Aug. 19-25, will start with a stage 1 circuit race in the Roaring Fork Valley near Aspen. At just 66 miles, the three-lap opener features more than 9,000 feet of climbing. Each 21.6-mile lap will climb from Aspen toward Snowmass Village via Owl Creek Road before riders plummet back to the start/finish in the valley. While the big menu of climbing and high altitude (the start is at 7,908 feet above sea level) present a tough challenge, the short length and long run-in to the finish in Aspen should keep the race mostly glued together, though riders unprepared for the thin air will struggle. That difficulty could play out when the attacks fly on the final lap, or it could surface the next day, after sub-optimal recover, when the race heads for Breckenridge.

Stage 2 will almost immediately travel over 12,095-foot Independence Pass before climbing from Fairplay over Hoosier Pass and finishing with a semi-technical loop above Breckenridge on the steep Moonstone and Boreas Pass roads. If the weather turns, as it is apt to do quickly in the high Rockies in August, the finale of the 126-mile stage, from the summit of Hoosier Pass to Breckenridge, and particularly the Moonstone victory lap, could get messy. Look for opportunists to try and make the first real differences in the general classifications on the latter. This is a race of seconds, as 2011 and 2012 proved, and an attentive rider could make a few in Breckenridge.

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