DENVER — With an impressive lineup of the top professional cyclists in the world, the provisionary team rosters for the 2014 USA Pro Challenge have been confirmed and are headlined by Pro Challenge defending champion and fifth-place finisher in last month’s Tour de France, Tejay van Garderen, as well as 2014 Tour de France King of the Mountains Jersey winner Rafał Majka and teammate and Tour de France stage winner Michael Rogers.
With a history of attracting the world’s top professional cyclists to Colorado, the USA Pro Challenge will take place Aug. 18-24 and stops in Vail for a time trial on Aug. 23.
“I’m really looking forward to defending my race title in Colorado this year,” said van Garderen, an Aspen resident. “Because it starts in my hometown, it’s different and more relaxed. To race in front of my family and friends is always special. We are bringing a really motivated team and with a summit finish this year, it promises to be another hard race.”
Top of Their Game
Fresh on the heels of the Tour de France, many of the riders are in their top form and will be strong competitors in the Pro Challenge. Three riders competing in the 2014 Pro Challenge finished in the top-12 places at the 2014 Tour de France, including van Garderen in fifth, Leopold Konig in seventh and Frank Schleck in 12th. Majka, who took the KOM Jersey at this year’s Tour de France and also won two stages, will be racing in Colorado. Additionally, the race also will feature two riders that finished on the podium in previous years of the Tour de France — Ivan Basso, who also is a two-time Giro d’Italia winner, and Schleck — and multiple riders who captured a stage win — Jens Voigt, Basso, Schleck, Rogers and Majka.
Emphasizing the competitive level of the field, the current and former USPRO national champions in road race will line up in Colorado (Eric Marcotte, 2014, Fred Rodriguez, 2013). In addition to Marcotte, the race will include three other current national champions – Schleck (LUX), Hayden Roulsten (NZL) and Riccardo Zoidl (AUT).Other international stars competing in the 2014 Pro Challenge include current junior world champion Matej Mohori, Tour of Slovania winner Tiago Machado, Columbian climbing sensation Janier Acevedo, and Michael Markov and Matthew Lloyd, who both won stages in the Giro d’Italia.
The 2014 USA Pro Challenge will include five of the top-six finishers from last year, including van Garderen, Gregory Brenes, Tom Danielson, Janier Acevedo and Lachlan Morton. Almost all of the jersey winners from 2013 will be back to defend their titles this year as well — Leader Jersey winner van Garderen, Denver resident and KOM Champion Matt Cooke, Best Young Rider Morton and overall Most Aggressive Rider Ben King.
‘Like No Other Race’
“I’m super excited to be coming back to race the USA Pro Challenge with my Garmin-Sharp teammates,” said Danielson. “Personally, it’s the one event every year I really look forward to because of the huge and crazy crowds and the general vibe of the race. It’s like no other race. Plus, our team is headquartered in Denver, so we have extra motivation.”
In what is being dubbed as his “Farewell Tour,” fan favorite Voigt will compete in his last professional race during the 2014 Pro Challenge. Best known for his attacking skills and positive, fun-loving attitude, Voigt’s professional cycling career has spanned 17 years and has been punctuated by many incredible performances and victories.
“I chose the Pro Challenge as my final race because of the fans,” said Voigt. “All the fans in Colorado love outdoor activities, so they are all experts; they know exactly how hard it is to go up those crazy-long climbs. It’s a beautiful state and I just always love the warm welcome and the support I get from the fans.”