After receiving interest from cities throughout the state, race officials have unveiled eight of the host cities that will serve as starts and finishes for the 2014 USA Pro Challenge, Aug. 18-24, 2014. Several new additions will mark a pinnacle year for the professional cycling race, including the first-ever mountaintop finish during Stage 3 on Monarch Mountain. And with stages one through six in the books, organizers are looking to fans to provide feedback on four different options for the final stage.
“The host cities selected for the 2014 USA Pro Challenge will really highlight the majestic beauty of Colorado to our worldwide audience,” said Rick Schaden, owner of the USA Pro Challenge. “These cities are valued partners who help us continue to raise the bar for professional cycling in America.”
After overwhelming support in 2013, the race is heading back to Aspen for the overall start of the 2014 edition, where elite professional cyclists from around the world will be put to the ultimate test in America’s most difficult cycling race. The host cities and stages of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge include:
- Stage 1: Monday, Aug. 18 – Aspen Circuit Race
- Stage 2: Tuesday, Aug. 19 – Aspen to Mt. Crested Butte
- Stage 3: Wednesday, Aug. 20 – Gunnison to Monarch Mountain (mountaintop finish)
- Stage 4: Thursday, Aug. 21 – Colorado Springs Circuit Race
- Stage 5: Friday, Aug. 22 – Woodland Park to Breckenridge
- Stage 6: Saturday, Aug. 23 – Vail Individual Time Trial
- Stage 7: Sunday, Aug. 24 – ???
Fans will be able to help shape the race by logging on to www.prochallenge.com/PickStage7 and giving their opinion on four options for Stage 7, including:
- Denver Circuit Race similar to the final stage of the 2013 race
- Start in Golden (2012 Stage 6 start city) and finish in Denver
- Start in Boulder (2012 Stage 6 finish city) and finish in Denver
- Start in Boulder and end in Golden
“We receive a lot of feedback from fans about the race and in particular the route, so, for the first time ever, we’re having fans weigh in on the final stage,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge. “We’re excited to hear from our passionate fans. The 2014 edition is going to be bigger and better than ever.”
As new additions to the race, Monarch Mountain and Woodland Park, offer breathtaking scenery that will add to the overall impact of the race. Stage 5 start city Woodland Park, the “City Above the Clouds,” is renowned for its natural beauty and proximity to great outdoor adventures. Home to one of the sprint competitions during Stage 5 of the 2012 USA Pro Challenge, the city sits at an elevation of 8,465 ft. and is surrounded by national forest. Additionally, Stage 3 will include the race’s first-ever mountaintop finish, presenting the riders with a brand new challenge. One of Colorado’s oldest ski areas, Monarch Mountain’s base elevation of 10,790 makes it the highest in North America.
“I have been lobbying for the USA Pro Challenge to add a mountaintop finish to the race ever since the first edition, so I was thrilled to hear Stage 3 of the 2014 race will finish on Monarch Mountain,” said Tom Danielson of Team Garmin-Sharp. “Colorado has some of the most beautiful mountains in the world and the USA Pro Challenge draws some of the best riders in the world, so it makes perfect sense to add in a challenging mountaintop finish. I have ridden Monarch many times, so I’ll be ready when the race rolls around in August.”
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 2013 USA Pro Challenge saw part-time Aspen resident Tejay van Garderen of BMC Racing Team take the overall win this past August in Denver, after assuming the overall lead in Beaver Creek at the end of Stage 4.
“The USA Pro Challenge is something that motivates me from the start of the year,” said van Garderen. “It takes place in one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and that happens to be in my backyard. I’m looking forward to defending my title on another challenging course.”
Additional details regarding the start and finish locations of the 2014 race, as well as the specific, detailed route will be announced in the spring.
Photo courtesy Cannondale