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Final piece of cycling's USA Pro Challenge revealed

December 23, 2014 Updated: December 23, 2014 at 4:10 am
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Stage 4 of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge cycling race was held in Colorado Springs Thursday, August 21, 2014. Photo by Mark Reis, The Gazette

Organizers of the USA Pro Challenge revealed the final piece of the 2015 puzzle Monday, and Colorado Springs, as expected, won't be part of the fifth edition of the week-long professional cycling race.

Earlier this month, host cities for all but one stage were announced and fans were encouraged to offer suggestions for Stage 6.

After receiving "thousands" of responses, the organizers settled on a route that will start in Loveland and end in Fort Collins.

"Loveland and Fort Collins have been such great host cities in the past, and we're looking forward to visiting them again," race CEO Shawn Hunter said in a news release.

Colorado Springs kicked off the inaugural race in 2011 and was selected to host again in 2012. After not being included in 2013, the event returned to the Springs in 2014.

Hunter told The Gazette that organizers want to bring the event back to the Springs "in '16 or '17 or both."

Next year's race is slated to begin Aug. 17 and conclude six days later with a stage from Golden to Denver. The central part of the state will serve as the primary racing ground for more than 100 of the world's top cyclists.

Following the initial stage in Steamboat Springs, riders will head to Arapahoe Basin for a grueling finish in Stage 2. The route then goes from Copper Mountain to Aspen in Stage 3 and Aspen to Breckenridge in Stage 4.

Breckenridge also will be the site of an individual time trial in Stage 5. The close proximity of host cities is part of a strategy the race began employing in 2013 to limit the travel for cyclists and spectators.

A U.S. rider has won the Pro Challenge all four years. Levi Leipheimer emerged victorious in 2011, Christian Vande Velde took first in 2012 and Tejay van Garderen earned the yellow jersey as overall champion the past two years.

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