The host cities for the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge will be officially presented at a press conference in Denver, Colorado on December 13, but information regarding the race's host cities has been announced today, revealing four new towns and a new grand finale.
In 2011, the event drew the top three from the Tour de France and hundreds of thousands of cycling fans to the Rocky Mountains, where Levi Leipheimer took home the overall race victory from Christian Vande Velde and Tejay Van Garderen in Denver.
For 2012, the race organisers have chosen to bring the time trial drama home to Denver itself, rather than end the race with circuits around the Mile High City - keeping the suspense up until the very last stage.
Rather than begin with a prologue, the 2012 edition of the race will head from former 7-Eleven racer Bob Roll's home town of Durango over the Lizard Head Pass to Telluride.
Stage 2 is set to revisit Crested Butte before the race repeats last year's Gunnison-Aspen stage. The fourth stage will head from Aspen through Leadville and on up to Beaver Creek village, while the fifth stage will crest the Hoosier Pass on a route from Breckenridge to Colorado Springs.
After being left out of host city status last year, the popular cycling hub of Boulder will host the finish of stage six before the time trial completes the race on the seventh stage.
“The host cities selected for the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge will enable us to showcase the beauty and hospitality of Colorado to a worldwide audience,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge. “These cities are valued partners who will work with us, hand in hand, as we continue to raise the bar for professional cycling here in America.”
Leipheimer, the defending champion, said the new route will be challenging. "Knowing that in 2012 we will start in one corner of the state and suffer through more mountain passes than any other race of this caliber in the North America is exciting. Add in the altitude factor and you’ve got one beast of a race.”
Cyclingnews will stream the official announcement at 5:15PM Mountain Standard Time on December 13. The VIP preview of the race will include riders Matt Cooke, Lucas Euser and Chris Baldwin as well as members of the former 7-Eleven cycling team and other cycling dignitaries.
2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge host cities
Monday, Aug. 20: Stage 1 Durango – Telluride
Tuesday, Aug. 21: Stage 2 Montrose – Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte
Wednesday, Aug. 22: Stage 3 Gunnison – Aspen
Thursday, Aug. 23: Stage 4 Aspen – Beaver Creek/Vail Valley
Friday, Aug. 24: Stage 5 Breckenridge – Colorado Springs
Saturday, Aug. 25: Stage 6 Golden – Boulder
Sunday, Aug. 26: Stage 7 (ITT) Denver