Aspen gets two stages in 2015 USA Pro Challenge | AspenTimes.com

Aspen gets two stages in 2015 USA Pro Challenge

Staff report

The USA Pro Challenge will return to Aspen for the fifth consecutive year in August, organizers of the bicycle race announced Thursday.

Aspen has been part of the tour every year of its existence. Stage 3 on Wednesday, Aug. 19 will go from Copper Mountain Resort on Interstate 70 to Aspen. Stage 4 the next day will go from Aspen to Breckenridge.

No specific routes for any stage were announced Thursday. Organizers will scout more roads and consult with state and local officials to determine the routes. However, it appears a safe bet that Independence Pass will return to the race a one-year absence.

Last year, the Pro Challenge started in Aspen with a circuit race. Stage 2 took the racers downvalley to Carbondale, up the Crystal River Valley and over McClure Pass before heading to Crested Butte via Kebler Pass. For many Aspen spectators the race didn't have the same cachet as the first four years without Independence Pass.

Taking place Aug. 17-23, the race will feature several dramatic changes for 2015, including a new overall start in Steamboat Springs, new host communities Arapahoe Basin and Copper Mountain and a challenging individual time trial course in in the scenic town of Breckenridge. Six of the seven stages are 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."

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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:

•Stage 1: Monday, Aug. 17 – Steamboat Springs Circuit Race

•Stage 2: Tuesday, Aug. 18 – Steamboat Springs to Arapahoe Basin

•Stage 3: Wednesday, Aug. 19 – Copper Mountain Resort to Aspen

•Stage 4: Thursday, Aug. 20 – Aspen to Breckenridge

•Stage 5: Friday, Aug. 21 – Breckenridge Individual Time Trial

•Stage 6: Saturday, Aug. 22 – to be determined

•Stage 7: Sunday, Aug. 23 – Golden to Denver

Read more about the 2015 USA Pro Challenge in Friday's edition of The Aspen Times.

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