USA Pro Challenge to pedal through Vail once again
2014 USA Pro challenge stages
Stage 1: Monday, Aug. 18 – Aspen Circuit Race
Stage 2: Tuesday, Aug. 19 – Aspen to Mt. Crested Butte
Stage 3: Wednesday, Aug. 20 – Gunnison to Monarch Mountain (mountaintop finish)
Stage 4: Thursday, Aug. 21 – Colorado Springs Circuit Race
Stage 5: Friday, Aug. 22 – Woodland Park to Breckenridge
Stage 6: Saturday, Aug. 23 – Vail Individual Time Trial
Stage 7: Sunday, Aug. 24 – Log on to http://www.prochallenge.com/PickStage7 to help choose stage 7
DENVER — The USA Pro Challenge has announced next year’s schedule … mostly.
Six of the seven stages of America’s most difficult cycling race were officially named on Monday, with the Vail Time Trial once again among them.
In the official announcement, three question marks were left alongside the field for Stage 7, with an invitation for fans to help decide the route by logging on to http://www.prochallenge.com/pickstage7 and choosing between four options: a Denver Circuit Race similar to this year’s final stage, a start in the 2012 Stage 6 start city of Golden with a finish in Denver, a start in the 2012 Stage 6 finish city of Boulder with a finish in Denver or a start in Boulder with a 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, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge, said in the announcement.
The Vail Time Trial was pushed back to Stage 6 (it was stage 5 this year), which is good news for the valley as it places the iconic event right in the middle of the weekend, on a Saturday.
“This is going to make for a huge weekend in Vail for locals and guests alike,” said Ceil Folz, president of the Vail Valley Foundation and president of the Vail Organizing Committee. “Given our race is the next to last stage, I think it’s safe to say that Vail may well determine who wears yellow once again.”
After not appearing on the USA Pro Challenge schedule last year, local fans weren’t sure if they could expect the Vail Time Trial again next year. In interviews leading up to this year’s event, Hunter hinted that the time trial could be an every-other year event.
Local bike shop owner Jay Lucas said he was very excited to hear the time trial was indeed returning in 2014.
“We always rent out a lot of bikes during the event, because you can’t drive up there. You have to either walk or take a bike,” said Lucas.
Lucas said his shop is always busy for the time trial.
“It’s such a great event for anyone who likes to ride a bike,” he said.
After hosting mountaintop finishes in 2012 and 2013, Beaver Creek will not return to the schedule next summer. The resort is busy with preparations for the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, the Vail Valley Foundataion said in a release.
“Beaver Creek did a tremendous job, and they will be back on the schedule in the future,” Folz said in the release. “Next summer, their full focus will be on the World Championships.”
With Beaver Creek off the schedule, new events this year will be Monarch Mountain and Woodland Park. Woodland Park was home to one of the sprint competitions during Stage 5 of the 2012 USA Pro Challenge and sits at an elevation of 8,465 feet. Stage 3 will include the race’s first-ever mountaintop finish, the USA Pro Challenge reported on Monday, presenting the riders with a brand new challenge as one of Colorado’s oldest ski areas, Monarch Mountain’s base elevation of 10,790 makes it the highest in North America.