Colorado Classic circuits pit men, women against Moonstone Road, Garden of the Gods and downtown Denver | AspenTimes.com
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Colorado Classic circuits pit men, women against Moonstone Road, Garden of the Gods and downtown Denver

The Colorado Classic promises to be a cycling event like locals, pros and all of the United States have never seen before.

Pro cyclists in the inaugural four-day men's race, including international pros with BMC Racing and Cannondale Drapac, will cover 313 miles (503.5 km) and endure more than 20,000 vertical feet of intense, high-altitude climbing in four stages that showcase the state's incredible terrain and enhance viewing options for fans, race organizers announced Wednesday.

The Colorado Classic race routes will test the field and create a new, unique experience for spectators from Aug. 10-13, the press release continued, with stops in Colorado Springs, Breckenridge and Denver. As opposed to point-to-point races, like the now-defunct USA Pro Challenge, all stages for men and women start and end at the same location: stages one, two and four of the men's race are "circuits" featuring multiple laps on challenging courses, while both stages of the women's race are also circuits.

"Each course will give fans numerous opportunities in a single day to see the sport's top riders," said David Koff, CEO of RPM Events Group, the organization formed to put on the race. "And the start-finish areas are being built to be magnets of activity before, during and after each race. Our goal is to have you come out for one experience and to stick around for many, many more."

The Colorado Classic is sanctioned by Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and designated as a 2.HC race, which is the highest category outside of World Tour races. So far, more than 14 men's teams from across the world have committed to the event, including UCI World Teams like BMC Racing. The guys are joined by an eclectic mix of more than a dozen women's teams, such as Alp Cycles Women's Racing Team (Colorado based), Amy D. Foundation Team (Colorado based), Colavita/Bianchi, Cylance Pro Cycling and Sho-Air Twenty20.

The entire race will be televised on NBCSN, with Paul Sherwen calling the action, joined by analyst and former pro Christian Vande Velde and reporter Bob Roll.

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MEN'S RACE

Stage one: The opening stage is the longest and covers a total of 93.5 miles (150.4 km) as riders push the pace for six laps on a 15.58-mile (25.1 km) course in the shadow of Pikes Peak, running between downtown Colorado Springs and the sandstone formations of the city's iconic Garden of the Gods.

Stage two: The second day is a test of endurance and willpower over 64 miles (103 km) in downtown Breckenridge. During 10 laps on the 6.4-mile (10.3 km) course, riders face more than 7,000 feet of climbing at 9,600 vertical feet, including multiple, leg-crushing runs up the notorious Moonstone Road climb — and the subsequent thrilling descents down Illinois Gulch to Main Street.

Stage three: Day three takes riders on an 81-mile (130 km) out-and-back course that runs from the RiNo race hub to the mountains west of Denver on the Peak to Peak Highway, and then returns to Denver through scenic Golden Gate Canyon State Park. The event ends with a thrilling finishing sprint through the streets of Denver, with speeds approaching 60 miles per hour. Among the day's highlights will be race action on Gap Road in the foothills west of Denver, where riders will face the toughest part of the course: the sole King of the Mountain (KOM) section and dirt roads with steep, rolling hills.

Stage four: The final day again highlights the downtown start-and-finish area as riders tackle a 7.5-mile (12km) city circuit that stretches from RiNo to City Park and back. Riders will finish 10 laps in the final stage for a total of 74.6 miles (120.1 km).

WOMEN'S RACE

The two stages of the women's Colorado Classic are planned for the same courses as the men's opening stages.

Stage one: The women's first day covers 38.36 miles (61.7 km) over multiple laps in Colorado Springs, sending a field of the best women cyclists through the Garden of the Gods.

Stage two: The second and final women's stage covers 32 miles (51.5 km) over five laps on the Breckenridge course, with riders conquering Moonstone hill over and over again.

WILCO, DEATH CAB AND MORE

When the women wrap up and cycling action moves to Denver, the Colorado Classic becomes the anchor of the first-ever Velorama Festival — a three-day bike, music and craft festival in the city's RiNo Art District.

From Aug. 11-13, Velorama features: big-name musical acts, some of the world's best cyclists competing in the final two stages of the Colorado Classic, and hundreds of vendors in a festival marketplace that includes a Bike and Lifestyle Expo, all anchored by independent craft makers of beer, cider and wine in the Drink RiNo group.

The Denver start-finish area will be inside the ticketed Velorama Festival grounds, with ticket prices to be announced later this summer. Wilco, Death Cab for Cutie, Old 97's and the Jayhawks headline three days of music for ticketed spectators.

Don't want to pay for the race? No admission is being charged for the start-finish areas in Colorado Springs and Breckenridge, and cycling fans will find countless areas to cheer on racers for free from alongside the courses in all four stages.

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