The Colorado Classic organisers' decision to forgo the men's race in 2019 and focus their resources on the women's UCI 2.1 event paid off with the most competitive field in the race's three-year history.
The race announced today that Tiffany Cromwell will lead Canyon-SRAM of Germany in the four-day race that starts August 22 in Steamboat Springs and concludes August 25 in downtown Denver. Defending champion Katie Hall, on loan from her trade team Boels Dolman, will return with the USA Cycling national team, while 2017 champion Sara Poidevan will be back with Rally UHC Cycling.
Amber Neben, the reigning US time trial champion and two-time world champion in the race against the clock, will lead the Russian Cogeas Mettler Look team, which also includes Frenchwoman Edwige Pitel and three-time Olympic medallist Olga Zabelinskaya on the preliminary roster. The Italian BePink team will field 2009 UCI Road World Champion and Olympic bronze medallist Tatiana Gudzero, while Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank will bring Lauren Stephens and sprinter Kendall Ryan.
Top young American riders expected include Sho-Air Twenty20 Olympians Chloe Dygert-Owen and Jennifer Valente, while Poidevan will rely on help in her GC quest from U23 sensation Emma White.
"This is the deepest field and certainly the field with the most international riders," Colorado Classic Race Director Sean Petty said of the 92-rider field expected for the start.
"There are riders who have major international results and accolades behind their names. We have our two previous Colorado Classic champions with Katie Hall and Sara Poidevin, who've proven their ability to climb well and win at this altitude in Colorado," Petty said. "The sprint finishes expected in stages 1, 3 and 4 will feature some of the fastest women in the world. It should be a really exciting race with an extremely high level of racing."
The race starts with a 87.2km stage in Steamboat Springs that includes some significant climbs in Colorado's famous altitude, but the general downhill run over the closing 10km could make for a fast finish. The second day in Avon brings on the Queen stage, as the peloton starts with seven quick laps of a technical 8km loop before starting the ascent of Daybreak Ridge through Beavercreek. The 5km climb features grades of 14 per cent before a ripping descent to the finish.
With the GC well established, the sprinters should return to the fore during the stage 3 circuit race in Golden. Seven laps of the 14.4km circuit include more than 1,200 metres of climbing, so the fast riders will have to work for a win.
The race concludes with a stage 4 circuit race that involves 8 laps of a course that finishes at Coors Field in Downtown Denver and takes in 17th Street and City Park.
The Colorado Classic started in 2017 as a UCI 2.HC men's race and a two-day non-UCI women's race. The women's race grew to four stages last year – two stages in Vail and two criteriums in Denver – and organisers decided in the offseason to drop the men's race for 2019 and focus on the women's event, which jumped up to UCI 2.1 status.
"I think [the Colorado Classic] is a step forward for us," said Tibco's Ryan, a 2018 stage winner. "It's amazing that they want to create races just for women. And I think it's really special that it's happening in the US. And Colorado is smack-dab in the middle and it's really special that they're creating that platform for us."
Other riders of note expected on the start line in Steamboat Springs include Israeli champion Omer Shapira (Canyon-SRAM), talented climber Krista Doebel-Hickok (Rally UHC), her teammate Alison Beveridge, Mexican road champion Anet Barrera (Swapit-Agolico) and Australian champion Brodie Chapman (Tibco-Silicon Valley Bank).
2019 Colorado Classic teams
ALP Cycles Racing
Amy D. Foundation
Cogeas Mettler Look Pro Cycling*
Point S Auto-Nokian Tyre
TIBCO-Silicon Valley Bank*
U.S. National Team
* Indicates UCI registered women's team