Updated: May 7, 2014 at 10:17 am
DENVER – When the USA Pro Challenge returns to the Pikes Peak region this summer, spectators will have several quality vantage points from which to watch the world-class riders.
Stage 4 of the seven-day stage race will begin at The Broadmoor, organizers announced Tuesday, and a field of 128 elite cyclists then will be tested with four trips around a 16-mile circuit that includes a steep, picturesque section through Garden of the Gods.
“It’s obviously one of the most beautiful spots in all of Colorado and probably in all of the world,” event CEO Shawn Hunter said after unveiling the race route at the History Colorado Center. “So to showcase that again but also The Broadmoor, which I think is our greatest resort and one of America’s greatest resorts, will be fun.”
The fourth edition of the USA Pro Challenge, which covers more than 500 miles of Rocky Mountain road Aug. 18-24, is back in Colorado Springs after a one-year hiatus. The city hosted the event’s prologue in 2011 and the Stage 5 finish in 2012. Both of those races finished downtown, and this year will be no different. But riders are going to have to work a bit harder to get there.
The 70-mile route features four half-mile stretches on Ridge Road that boast up to a 17 percent grade, plus a few short climbs in Garden of the Gods.
“As we like to say, there’s nowhere to hide, no days off in this race. There’s not a weak link in the seven,” Hunter said.
Despite the difficult course, Stage 4 likely will come down to a sprint finish through the streets of downtown, similar to that won by Tyler Farrar two years ago.
“We’re gonna have the party going on all day downtown like we had in 2012,” said Peter Scoville of the local organizing committee. “You can go to Colorado (Avenue) and watch the racers come through and then come back over to Tejon (Street) and watch it again. It’s going to be as spectator friendly as you can get.”
The USA Pro Challenge kicks off with a circuit in Aspen and concludes six days later in downtown Denver. The start of Stage 5 will be hosted by Woodland Park. Other host cities include Mount Crested Butte, Gunnison, Breckenridge, Vail and Boulder.
Stage 3 is the undisputed gem of this year’s route. After beginning in Gunnison, cyclists will climb 11,312-foot Monarch Pass and descend into Salida before returning to Monarch Mountain in the first true mountaintop finish in the event’s history.
“What most people don’t realize is we will finish twice as high as most mountaintop finishes of any other race in the world, including the grand tours like France, Italy and Spain,” Hunter said.
Various channels in the NBC Sports group will air a total of 25 hours of coverage during the week, and the race will be shown in nearly 180 countries. Previous winners of the race include Americans Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde and Tejay van Garderen.