The 2015 USA Pro Challenge — the fifth edition of the popular Colorado cycling stage race — won’t start in Aspen again, but it will be the finish for a Stage 3 jaunt from Copper Mountain and the start of a monstrous Stage 4 to Breckenridge, organizers announced in Steamboat Springs on Wednesday.
Part-time Aspen resident Tejay van Garderen, the two-time defending USAPC champion and a standout for BMC Racing, is just glad the race will be back in his hometown.
“I am so happy to hear the USA Pro Challenge is going through Aspen again,” said van Garderen. “It is always great to be able to race in front of my family and close friends. Of course, I am curious to see the route they will pick and I am expecting it to be the most challenging route yet.”
Exact course details have yet to be released, and fans will be able to choose the Stage 6 route within 150 miles of Denver and Breckenridge. Here’s the full release from the USAPC:
Colorado’s largest sporting event is back for 2015, and today race officials unveiled seven of the host cities that will be highlighted as starts and finishes for the 2015 USA Pro Challenge. Taking place Aug. 17-23, the race will feature several dramatic changes for 2015, including a new overall start in beautiful Steamboat Springs, new host communities Arapahoe Basin and Copper Mountain and a challenging individual time trial course in in the scenic town of Breckenridge. And with six of the seven stages set, organizers are looking to fans to help determine the location of Stage 6.
“The start and finish cities for the 2015 USA Pro Challenge are going to create some unique challenges for the riders while also showcasing some of Colorado’s most beautiful regions to our worldwide audience,” said Rick Schaden, owner of the USA Pro Challenge. “We are always humbled by the amount of interest we receive from cities across the state that want to host the race and we feel confident that the partners we’ve selected this year will help us continue to raise the bar for professional cycling in America.”
After drawing more than 1 million fans each year and generating $130 million in economic impact to the State of Colorado in 2014 alone, the USA Pro Challenge will make its return with an overall start in Steamboat Springs. Over the course of seven days of intensely competitive racing, the world’s best riders will return to iconic Colorado cities that have been key parts of the race in previous years, such as Aspen and Denver.
In a mix of new and prior host cities, the stages of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge include:
Last year, fans weighed in on the final stage and ultimately determined a route that took the riders from Boulder, through Golden and finished in Downtown Denver. Due to overwhelming fan interest and support, organizers are again letting people have a say in the course. Fans will be able to help shape the race by logging on to www.prochallenge.com/2015stage6 before 11:59 p.m. MT December 12, and giving their opinion on what part of the state Stage 6 should visit.
“Last year we turned to our dedicated fans to help determine the route for the final stage of the Pro Challenge,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge. “The enthusiasm and valuable opinions that we received convinced us that we should look to our supporters again for their input on the 2015 race. We know our fans are passionate about the sport and we’re looking forward to hearing where they want Stage 6 to go.”
A new overall start for the Pro Challenge, Steamboat Springs, with a population of just more than 12,000, should see that number at least double on race day. Located just west of the Continental Divide and Rabbit Ears Pass, Steamboat is the perfect location to kick off the race and showcase Colorado’s unique scenic beauty. And as the Colorado city that has produced more Olympians than any other, the riders should feel right at home.
In one of the most significant changes to the 2015 route, Breckenridge will host the individual time trial. Located 9,600 ft. above sea level, this course will test the riders with challenging, hilly terrain. With these additions combined with new host cities Arapahoe Basin and Copper Mountain Resort, the 2015 course will create dramatic moments for the riders and fans.
Known for lung-searing altitudes and intense climbs through the Colorado Rockies, the race is the largest spectator event in the history of the state. The 2014 USA Pro Challenge saw part-time Aspen resident Tejay van Garderen of BMC Racing Team take the overall win for the second year in a row this past August in Denver.
Additional details regarding the exact start and finish locations of the 2015 race, as well as the specific, detailed route will be announced in the spring.
About the USA Pro Challenge
Referred to as “America’s Race,” the USA Pro Challenge will take place August 17-23, 2015. For seven consecutive days, the world’s top athletes race through the majestic Colorado Rockies, reaching higher altitudes than they’ve ever had to endure. One of the largest cycling events in U.S. history and the largest spectator event in the history of the state, the USA Pro Challenge is back for 2015.