Organisers of the USA Pro Challenge today announced route details for the 2015 race, which includes a new mountaintop finish on Loveland Pass and a high-elevation individual time trial in Breckenridge. The seven-day UCI 2.HC race will take place August 17-23.
The race starts in Steamboat Springs for the first time in its five-year history before heading deep into the Rocky Mountains. Other new additions to this year's race include Arapahoe Basin and Copper Mountain. This year the USA Pro Challenge also pays homage to the inaugural race in 2011 with a repeat of that year's final stage from Golden to Denver.
"Each of our 2015 host cities offers something unique and special to the fifth anniversary of the Pro Challenge," said Shawn Hunter, CEO of USA Pro Challenge. "We're confident that this year's route will provide the most exciting week of racing yet. We have added new cities and a dramatic mountaintop finish that will prove to be a fierce battleground for riders eager to show they have what it takes to compete on a new climb up Loveland Pass."
Highlights of the 2015 route:
Stage 1 – Steamboat Springs Circuit
This 78km circuit will be completed twice by the peloton, with a likely sprint finish to crown the race's first overall leader.
Stage 2 – Steamboat Springs to Arapahoe Basin
Leaving Steamboat Springs there is little time before the pros tackle Rabbit Ears Pass. From there, this familiar route heads south through Kremmling, around the Green Mountain Reservoir, and continues through Silverthorne and Dillon. Unlike years past, the 2015 Pro Challenge will then turn east and suffer 8km up Loveland Pass to Arapahoe Basin.
Stage 3 – Copper Mountain to Aspen
Copper Mountain plays host to its first ever Pro Challenge stage before sending riders off to the climb up Independence Pass for a finish in Aspen.
The day starts with the ascent of Fremont Pass, followed by a quick sprint through Leadville. The main challenge of the day comes on the upper slopes of Independence Pass before a rapid descent into Aspen. More than half of Stage 3 takes place above 3,000 metres.
Stage 4 – Aspen to Breckenridge
The stage starts off with 20 miles of climbing up Independence Pass, which is quickly followed by ascents of Trout Creek Pass and Hoosier Pass before getting to Breckenridge, where riders will tackle Moonstone Road and the drop down Boreas Pass to the finish.
Stage 5 – Breckenridge Time Trial – Friday, August 21, 2015
Completely new for 2015, the Breckenridge time trial features a 13.6km route that starts out flat for the pure time trialists. However, it's not long before it's back onto the climb up Moonstone Road. The race could be won or lost going downhill this day, as racers will push the limits on the Boreas Pass descent.
Stage 6 – Loveland to Ft. Collins
The early flats and sprints in Windsor and Loveland hide the wicked side of the route that waits in the second half, as the lower and smaller climbs of this stage could pack a serious sting. Climbs up the north side of Carter Lake and then onto Rist Canyon could present one of the last chances for overall contenders to make a move. The stage wraps up with the jagged rollers of Horsetooth Reservoir before bombing into Fort Collins.
Stage 7 – Golden to Denver
This route was the final stage of the first Pro Challenge in 2011. After leaving Golden, the race ascends the 6.5km climb of Lookout Mountain. The peloton will pass through Wheat Ridge and Lakewood en route to downtown Denver, where four laps of the familiar Denver circuit await.