British climber Yates led his Australian squad at the recent Tour de France, finishing 29th overall in Paris, but had started the race as one of the favourites. After falling out of the GC battle he went after stage wins, and only narrowly missed out when he crashed on the descent of the Col du Portillon on his way to a solo win in Bagnères-de-Luchon on stage 16.
Also hoping to have put bad luck behind him will be Colorado's Taylor Phinney, who rode the Tour de France with EF Education First-Drapac, but crashed on stage 19, fracturing his nose, yet still soldiered on to finish in Paris.
"It's always great to race in my home state," said Phinney. "I love the energy you get on the roads at home – people shouting for you, friends from all over the state coming together to see us race.
"There's definitely a neat vibe on the Colorado roads that feels unique. It's special because it also feels like a home race for the entire team, since our roots are here. I'm looking forward to it, for sure."
Phinney will be joined on the EF-Drapac squad by Dani Martinez, who finished third overall at this year's Tour of California and went on to finish 36th at the Tour de France, and by Joe Dombrowski, winner of the Tour of Utah in 2015.
As well as Mitchelton-Scott and EF-Drapac, two other WorldTour teams will start the race: US squad Trek-Segafredo and LottoNL-Jumbo of the Netherlands.
Trek-Segafredo will be led by Peter Stetina, who finished fifth overall at last year's inaugural Colorado Classic, and will likely be a danger again. He's joined on the team by Latvia's Toms Skujins, who won a stage and the polka-dot jersey of best climber at this year's Tour of California, and went on to wear the polka-dot jersey at the Tour de France for four days on his way to finishing his first Tour.
While last year's winner Manuel Senni won't return to defend his title, having left BMC Racing team at the end of last season to join Italian outfit Bardiani-CSF – who aren't at the race this year – the 2017 edition's runner-up, Serghei Tvetcov (United HealthCare), who also won a stage, will be on the start line and hoping to go one better when the race starts in Vail on August 16.
The Israel Cycling Academy will bring Guy Sagiv, who this year became the first Israeli rider to finish a Grand Tour after his team rode in the Giro d'Italia in May.
The four UCI WorldTour teams are joined by five Pro Continental teams, with Rob Britton heading up a Rally Cycling team that includes Evan Huffman and veteran Danny Pate.
Five UCI Continental teams and the Rwanda national team make up the field, with 135 riders in total taking to the start line for the four-day race, which runs until August 19.
"After the success of last year's race, we stepped up to the challenge of delivering an even better field in 2018," said race director Jim Birrell of Medalist Sports.
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