This year, Aspen is again blessed with 2 stages of the now legendary USA Pro Cycling Challenge. This 7 stage professional road cycling blast came to life in 2011, in an effort to bring the rich heritage of Colorado road cycling back to life as it was in the 1980’s when the Coors Classic brought the world’s best riders to these steep, glorious mountains. The start of the 3rd annual installment of the race is right around the corner on August 19, and the start of the race is right here in downtown Aspen, Colorado, adjacent to the Molly Gibson Lodge at Paepcke Park. This charming aspen lodging location is perfectly situated as a home base to watch the exciting beginning of this 7-day event.
Aspen/ Snowmass will proudly host Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the 2013 USA Pro Cycling Challenge. This year’s event is loaded with top talent, with 2013 Tour de France champion Chris Froome and 5 of last years top10 Pro Challenge finishers, including Teejay van Garderen and Christian Vande Velde, competing for the 2013 Colorado title. The Aspen routes for 2013 are completely new and different from the 2011 and 2013 races, and will give riders a real challenge for their first day out of the gates. In a format very different from other years, Stage 1 takes cyclists on a 3-lap, 66-mile circuit course from Paepcke Park heading East on Main Street (and right in front of Molly Gibson Lodge) to the first, bold, grinding climb toward Snowmass Village via Owl Creek Road. A quick descent and 2 more short, steep climbs add up to a whopping 3.080 feet of climbing per lap an an intimidating first day for these riders! Three laps make for fantastic spectating throughout the day, as riders will pass through town, and welcoming crowds multiple times before the climactic downtown finish!
Riders rest in Aspen overnight, then head out the next morning from town in another brand new stage route for 2013. Reminiscent of last year’s double- duel over Independence Pass, this year’s 2nd Stage takes riders over one of the most coveted and challenging road climbs in Colorado, Independence Pass. Riders attack the pass first thing out of the starting gate, and top out at 12,000ft, the highest point in the 7-day race. The route continues through Twin Lakes to Buena Vista, then along 285 toward Hoosier Pass and ending at the finish line in Breckenridge. Riders will grind out a total of 126 miles and 12,250 ft of climbing during Stage 2.
Aspen is thrilled to be chosen as the launching point of the USA Pro Challenge, and in typical Aspen fashion the town is ready celebrate the beginning of the race in style, and give the racers a proper send-off. The celebration begins on Saturday August 17 with the USA Pro Challenge Opening Ceremonies. Snowmass Mall is the center of the early events beginning at 4pm with kids’ activities and a “Best Bike Legs” competition. New Belgium Brewery, a sponsor of the event will be on hand for a seminar and tasting of their Colorado brews. Official Opening Ceremonies begin at 6:15pm at the Base Village Plaza with Team Introductions from 6:15-8:30pm, followed by live music, giveaways and beer tasting into the night. Celebrations continue on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday in downtown Aspen at the Race Festival in Paepcke Park near the starting line; food vendors, kids zone, live music and expo keep the spirit of cycling high during this 3-day cycling celebration.
New this year, the Aspen Sprint Challenge on August 18 & 19 gives amateurs a try at the course in a fundraising event to benefit the USA Cycling Development Foundation. Amateur teams can purchase registration to gain a spot in the sprint on a portion of the racecourse, as well as VIP tickets and special access celebrations. It’s a perfect way to enjoy one of the last wonderful weekends of summer in Aspen, as a rider, racer or spectator.