The organisers of the Colorado Classic, RPM Events Group, announced on Thursday an additional stage for the women's race for 2018. Like the men, the women's field will take on four stages of the second-year event, two in Vail and two in Denver, from August 16-19.
Although the race will not be UCI-sanctioned, it has been added to USA Cycling's Pro Road Tour. With the addition, women will compete in 18 of the 20 Pro Road Tour events, with only the Tour of Utah and Thompson Bucks County Classic remaining for men-only.
The women will race a circuit in Vail on August 16, then contest the famed Vail Pass time trial on the following day. The races then move to Denver, where the women will contest a criterium on Saturday and race on the same RiNo Arts District circuit as the men on Sunday.
The changes double the number of races that are part of the women's stage race this year. Last year, the women competed in the Colorado Springs and Breckenridge circuits, and had separate evening criteriums in Denver's RiNo Arts District on the weekend. The stage race was won by Rally's Sara Poidevin.
Although the women's race will not be broadcast live, there will be video recaps and live data information via the race's mobile app.
Organisers say they will invite 13 teams of six riders each to the race, including the Twenty20-Sho Air squad of last year's Colorado Springs stage winner, Olympian and track team pursuit world champion Jen Valente.
"I was pleased to have won the first stage of the inaugural women's Colorado Classic last year with Twenty20 presented by Sho-Air," Valente said in the press release. "It's great to hear that the women will be racing the same number of days as the men and on the same courses in Vail and Denver. We look forward to another great race and showcasing some of the best women in the world."
Kristin Armstrong, who retired after the Rio Olympics and took a position with USA Cycling, praised the organisation for committing to an equal number of stages for men and women.
"It is great to see the Colorado Classic continue their support around Women's Cycling, showing their continued commitment as we strive for gender equality in our sport," Armstrong said. "Increasing the stage race from two stages in year 1 to four stages in year 2 is a step in the right direction."