While Colorado Classic organizers do plan to roll out the red carpet for some of the top cyclists in the world next month, don’t mistake that generous hospitality for a pampered vacation in the Rockies.
In fact, this red carpet will be laid on steep mountain grades and even covered with gravel in spots, officials confirmed Friday with the announcement of the routes for the women’s-only event.
In all, riders will face 220 miles and nearly 14,000 feet of elevation gain over four days.
“This will be, by far, the most challenging course we’ve had for the women’s Colorado Classic,” race director and Monument resident Sean Petty said in a press release.
The stage race kicks off Aug. 22 in Steamboat Springs and concludes Aug. 25 in Denver. The third edition of the event, which featured men and women in 2017 and 2018, does not include Colorado Springs.
Stage 1 is a 53.2-mile route that boasts more than 4,000 feet of climbing and a potentially pivotal 6-mile stretch on gravel before cyclists return to Steamboat for a downtown finish. Things don’t get any easier in Stage 2, with a hybrid 50.3-mile course in Avon that starts with seven flat circuits and ends with a rugged climb and technical descent.
Stage 3, a 63.7-mile route in Golden, likely will showcase the sprinters with nine laps of tight corners and long straightaways. Eight more laps await riders in Stage 4, with the overall winner being crowned after 52.8 miles in Denver.
“This year’s route provides something for everyone,” Petty said. “The courses offer two incredible days in the mountains … and, we’ll have opportunities for the sprinters in Stages 3 and 4.”
Canadian Sara Poidevin won the inaugural, two-stage Colorado Classic and American Katie Hall took home the title in last summer’s race, which featured four stages.
Next month’s event earned a 2.1 designation from cycling’s governing body, making it one of only 13 such events in the world. Organizers plan live streaming of each stage.