Pro Cycling Challenge route set |

Pro Cycling Challenge route set

DENVER – This August’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge individual time trial on the final day will begin and finish at Denver’s Civic Center Park, the race announced Wednesday.

The routes of the seven-day, 680-mile stage race were announced, with the biggest news coming in the form of the final 9.5-mile time trial and one wrinkle on the penultimate Stage 6 from Golden to Boulder.

“There’s a lot of highlights in this year’s race,” race CEO Shawn Hunter said. “It’s 150 miles longer, there are three uphill finishes, we’ve got the time trial and the way the stages lay out, it’s possible you’ll see the yellow jersey change hands almost every day. That was our main goal.”

Unlike last year, when the final day was a stage race from Golden to Denver, this year’s last day on Aug. 26 will be an individual time trial to keep the outcome up for grabs. From Civic Center Park near the State Capitol Building, the riders will take an up and back route along Speer Boulevard and Colfax Avenue similar to last year with a detour down Larimer Street.

Returning to Colfax, the cyclists will go north on 17th Avenue to City Park. After a short, technical run, the riders return to 17th and will head to Broadway then go south to the finish adjacent to Civic Center Park.

“There’s not much of an elevation to it. We wanted to maximize as much as we could inside the city limits, but also try to minize the impact,” said race director Jim Birrell from Atlanta where he’s managing partner of Medalist Sports. “That’s why you see us utilize some of the same streets in both directions.

“From a spectator’s point of view, I don’t think you could build a better course. You can see them from multiple locations.”

The race’s other highlight will be its first true mountaintop finish. Stage 6 on Aug. 25 ends with a 3.5-mile climb up Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder. The 103.3-mile Boulder stage will head up Boulder Canyon along Highway 199 toward Nederland where the climb will reach 9,300 feet on the Peak to Peak Highway.

It will descend to Lyons then up Lefthand Canyon and Lee Hill Road before going through downtown Boulder and up to Flagstaff Mountain.

Here’s a look at the other stages:

Stage 1: Durango to Telluride, 126.5 miles, Aug. 20

Two laps around downtown Durango, then a 6.5-mile loop around the town, back through downtown and across the tracks of the Narrow Gauge Railroad. The route goes up Hesperus Climb on Highway 160 through Dolores then over Lizard Head Pass at 10,222 feet then into Telluride.

Stage 2: Montrose to Crested Butte, 99.5 miles, Aug. 21

Leaving Montrose it goes over Cerro Summit and Blue Mesa Summit then past Blue Mesa Reservoir to Gunnison. From Gunnison it takes the same 2011 route through downtown Crested Butte then on to the uphill finish in Mt. Crested Butte.

Stage 3: Gunnison to Aspen, 130.5 miles, Aug. 22

It leaves Gunnison to Almont then uphill to Taylor Park Reservoir then again up to the 12,126-foot peak of Cottonwood Pass, the highest point of the week. It descends through Buena Vista then north on Highway 24 to Twin Lakes. As last year, it again goes up 12,095-foot Independence Pass before descending into Aspen.

Stage 4: Aspen to Beaver Creek, 97.2 miles, Aug. 23

Riders climb Independence Pass a second time to Leadville then over the Continental Divide at 10,424-foot Tennessee Pass before descending into Minturn. It then goes through Avon before a 2.5-mile climb to the finish in Beaver Creek.

Stage 5: Breckenridge to Colorado Springs, 117.9 miles, Aug. 24

Leaving Breckenridge the riders climb 10 miles up to 11,500-foot Hoosier Pass before a descent into Fairplay. Then it’s flat through Woodland Park and continues downhill to Colorado Springs. The route will take in an uphill jaunt through the Garden of the Gods, then downhill to the downtown finish.

“If you look at Crested Butte, Beaver Creek and now Boulder, you’ve got three really good mountain finishes,” Birrell said. “That finish in Crested Butte last year, man, just seeing the facial expressions of (overall winner) Levi (Leipheimer), it’s something that’s just etched in memory.”

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