Stage 3 of the USA Pro Challenge will be a real test to see who has acclimated to the altitude. With more than half of the stage taking place above 10,000ft, there will be little in the way of oxygen to fuel the peloton's efforts. The climbing starts right away with the ascent of Freemont Pass (Cat. 4), cresting at 11,079ft. The peloton will pass by Turquoise Lake en route to Leadville where they'll contest their first sprint. The familiar Independence Pass, a fixture of the race, will provide another launch pad for the climbers, with the technical descent into Aspen providing an adrenaline rush for the finish.
Mike Creed says:
This stage has a high chance of being a pain in the…I don’t know. Imagine the most sensitive part of your body. If you’re actually reading this. Which I don’t know if I ever have. I’m going to imagine the most sensitive part of you is your inability to have friends. So yeah, this stage has a high probability of being a pain in your halitosis breath.
There is a chance of the race splitting in Leadville with it being very exposed, windy and at almost 10k elevation. In 2012 I made the front echelon doing 280 watts on the wheel. It's the slowest crosswind fight ever. But it’s still a fight.
Then Independence Pass is a pain. It’s never steep, it just goes forever. The last time I climbed Independence I looked down the road to look for my team car and I saw the moon. What is the elevation of the moon? Independence is 300 feet higher than that.
This stage is made for Brent Bookwalter, or one of the 12 Caja Rural guys.