Beaver Creek’s Daybreak Ridge will serve as 2019 Colorado Classic Queen of the Mountain climb | VailDaily.com

Beaver Creek’s Daybreak Ridge will serve as 2019 Colorado Classic Queen of the Mountain climb

Stage 2 of women's professional cycling event will take place in Avon on August 23

Festive spectators cheer on a cyclist riding to the top of the USA Pro Challenge's King of the Mountain section in Beaver Creek on August 22, 2013. Competitors at the 2019 Colorado Classic will take on a similar route up Daybreak Ridge in Beaver Creek.
Dominique Taylor | Vail Daily file photo

AVON — Fans made it up Holden Road in Beaver Creek to cheer on USA Pro Cycling Challenge competitors in 2013, and organizers are hoping for a similar party up there this year when the Colorado Classic hits town Aug. 23.

The course, announced Friday, once again will feature the grueling Beaver Creek climb up Holden Road, to Borders Road, to Strawberry Park Road and finally Daybreak Ridge, a section that became known as “The Brink” in 2013.

Spectators won’t be allowed to travel up there via automobile, so hiking and biking will be the preferred method of transport to the top.

Rob Simon with the Colorado Classic said race organizers examined routes from the previous incarnations of the Classic and its predecessor, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, and added modifications to come up with this year’s courses.

While the 2013 race up Daybreak Ridge began with a long ride from Steamboat, this year’s stage will be completely contained within Avon and Beaver Creek, starting with a criterium-style course in town, circling East and West Beaver Creek Boulevard and Highway 6 between Nottingham Park and Post Boulevard for seven laps, or 35 miles.

Simon described it as two courses in one.

“You’ve got the fun circuit that goes through the town, so you’ll see a lot of sprinters making a run for it,” Simon said. “Then you go up the (Queen of the Mountain section) there on Daybreak Ridge, it’s such a steep and notorious climb, you’re hitting grades of up to 14 percent, so that’s going to be an intense climb that’s going to weed out the sprinters and favor the climbers.”

The course then will head back down the mountain on the Bachelor Gulch side, finishing where it started, on Lake Street in front of Nottingham Park.

“We think it’s going to be a thrilling conclusion to the race,” Simon said.

Women’s-only race

The Colorado Classic started two years ago with a goal to reclaim some of spectator cycling’s proud history in Colorado, a state that was once host to one of the biggest races in the world, the Coors Classic.

Vail hosted two stages of the Colorado Classic last year, but crowds were underwhelming, and organizers decided to go a different direction. It was announced in December the 2019 Colorado Classic will become the only women’s stand-alone stage race in the Western Hemisphere on the Union Cycliste Internationale calendar and USA Cycling’s Pro Road Tour.

Avon jumped at the chance to host a stage of the race, offering to pitch in with traffic management and road closures in town, and providing the use of Nottingham Park.

By having an all-women’s race, “we’re providing a platform for these women to gain more exposure, more opportunity, more sponsorship,” said Colorado Classic event producer Lucy Diaz. “But really we’re trying to become a catalyst for what we see the future of sport is within cycling for women.”

Slice of the state

The Colorado Classic will begin Aug. 22 in Steamboat before heading to Avon for Stage 2, representing the Western Slope portion of the competition. Stages 3 and 4 will take place on the Front Range, with Stage 3 in Golden featuring a nine-mile circuit that starts and finishes under the iconic Golden arch downtown. The Colorado Classic will conclude on Aug. 25 with Stage 4 in Denver featuring eight laps of a technical and dynamic circuit, starting and finishing in front of Coors Field and taking riders through fan-friendly areas on 17th Avenue and City Park.

The course will cover a total of 220 miles, with 13,667 feet of elevation gain over the four days of competition.

There will be a free Colorado Classic Expo near each host’s start/finish, celebrating cycling, health, fitness, and women’s empowerment with a curated array of exhibitors, events, and food and beverage experiences.

“This will be, by far, the most challenging course we’ve had for the women’s Colorado Classic and this year’s route provides something for everyone,” said Colorado Classic race director Sean Petty. “The courses offer two incredible days in the mountains, starting with over 4,000 feet of climbing in Steamboat Springs and a brutal climb will be featured before the finale on Stage 2 in Avon. And we’ll have opportunities for the sprinters in Stages 3 and 4 in Golden and Denver.”