The USA Pro Challenge is only in its third year, but it’s already tops with cycling lovers for the excitement and attention it brings to their beloved sport — and for how it shows off Colorado’s spectacular topography.
2012’s seven-stage race was a 680-mile Rockies rally with more mountain passes to tackle than any race of its kind — including three trips above 12,000 feet. For spectators, it was a seven-day parade of tracking the competition, cycling celebration and fun local events. Through 12 cities from Durango to Denver (see the race route here), fans clanked cowbells, high-fived that guy dressed like a banana, watched the racers whiz by and partook in the host cities’ race festivals and natural beauty. The sixth stage finished atop Boulder’s see-forever Flagstaff Mountain and was be followed by an individual time trial through downtown Denver (with plenty of great vantage points for fans).
In 2011, nearly 1 million people came out to see the race at some stage — that this was the inaugural event speaks to how amped Coloradans are about having such a high-profile cycling event in their state. Called the most challenging race on American soil, the inaugural USA Pro Challenge brought out the likes of Tour de France podium winners Cadel Evans, Andy Schleck and Frank Schleck — though the 2011 win went to Team RadioShack’s Levi Leipheimer and 2012 went to Team Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda Christian Vande Velde.
Easy-going crowds gathered at each beautiful stage, which took riders along some of Colorado’s most difficult roads, including both sides of Independence Pass. In fact, thousands gathered along the final stage, which whisked riders through the city to Denver’s Capitol steps. The riders were cheered on by an army of local supporters, many of whom came out to watch the battle for the yellow jersey atop their own two wheels.
2013 USA Pro Challenge Host Cities & Schedule
• Stage 1: Monday, Aug. 19, Aspen/Snowmass
• Stage 2: Tuesday, Aug. 20, Breckenridge
• Stage 3: Wednesday, Aug. 21, Steamboat Springs
• Stage 4: Thursday, Aug. 22, Beaver Creek
• Stage 5: Friday, Aug. 23, Vail
• Stage 6: Saturday, Aug. 24, Loveland–Fort Collins
• Stage 7: Sunday, Aug. 25, Denver
Learn more about the 2013 route through Colorado.