Colorado's USA Pro Challenge organisers announced eight host cities for the 2014 race, and are taking the unique step of polling the fans to help them choose between four options for the race's grande finale.
The race, which will take place from August 18-24, 2014, will begin as it did this year in Aspen with a circuit race, and then head from there to Crested Butte. The race will have its first ever true mountain top finish on stage 3, where riders will start from Gunnison and end with the ascent of Monarch Mountain at a whopping 10,790 ft in altitude.
"I have been lobbying for the USA Pro Challenge to add a mountain top finish to the race ever since the first edition, so I was thrilled to hear stage 3 of the 2014 race will finish on Monarch Mountain," Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) said. "Colorado has some of the most beautiful mountains in the world and the USA Pro Challenge draws some of the best riders in the world, so it makes perfect sense to add in a challenging mountain top finish. I have ridden Monarch many times, so I’ll be ready when the race rolls around in August."
Stage 4 will be another circuit race, this time in the home of USA Cycling, USADA and the Olympic training center, Colorado Springs. Stage 5 will run from Woodland Park to the high altitude of Breckenridge. Vail once again hosts a time trial on stage 6, but the plans for the final stage on August 24 are still up in the air.
Fans can help shape the final stage by going to the USA Pro Challenge website and giving their opinion on four options for Stage 7: A Denver circuit race similar to the final stage of the 2013 edition; a race start in Golden (2012 Stage 6 start city) and finish in Denver; a start in Boulder and finish in Denver; or a start in Boulder and finish in Golden.
"We receive a lot of feedback from fans about the race and in particular the route, so, for the first time ever, we’re having fans weigh in on the final stage," Shawn Hunter, the CEO of the USA Pro Challenge, said. "We’re excited to hear from our passionate fans. The 2014 edition is going to be bigger and better than ever."
Aspen resident Tejay van Garderen (BMC) was pleased to see the race return to his home town, where he will begin the defense of his 2013 title.
"The USA Pro Challenge is something that motivates me from the start of the year," van Garderen said. "It takes place in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and that happens to be in my backyard. I'm looking forward to defending my title on another challenging course."
The final route will be announced in the spring.