Aspen streets to be closed for bike race’s ‘Queen Stage’
June 28, 2011
ASPEN – Some streets in downtown Aspen will close at 6 a.m. and Independence Pass will close at noon on Aug. 24, the day that the USA Pro Cycling Challenge rolls into town, officials said during Monday’s Aspen City Council meeting.
Nancy Lesley, the city’s director of special events, Jeff Woods, director of parks and recreation and Aspen Police Sgt. Mike Tracey provided the council with an update on preparations for the event, which is expected to bring thousands of visitors to the city for the second stage of the Aug. 22-28 race.
“The Queen Stage,” as it has been called, will take riders from Gunnison to Aspen. The grueling 131-mile route includes both Cottonwood and Independence passes, both of which are higher than 12,000 feet in elevation. Parts of the race will be broadcast live on the NBC and Versus networks over a seven-day period.
“It’s anticipated to be one of the hardest stages in the history of cycling,” Woods said.
The viewership goal on Versus is 10 million people, Lesley said. “That’s a pretty exciting number,” she said.
Activities in Aspen will start at 11 a.m. and the racers are expected to enter the city from Independence Pass at approximately 3 p.m., she said.
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A patrons tent will stretch for 2.5 blocks on Main Street, between Galena and Spring streets, Lesley said. An awards stage and an announcers stage will be set up at the finish line near Main and Mill streets. Jumbotrons will be erected as well, one at Cooper Avenue and Galena Street, one around Mill Street somewhere near the finish line and one at a beer garden/entertainment area at Wagner Park.
Team buses will be parked along Hyman Avenue. Spectators, perhaps numbering in the thousands, are expected to line Highway 82 as the riders make their way down the pass, she said.
Woods said it’s hard to say exactly how many visitors will be in town for the event, but added that the city will be ready for them.
The USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which is sponsored by the sandwich eatery Quizno’s, will host 128 professional cyclists from 16 teams. Specific riders will be named at the end of July. The race will end on Aug. 28 in Denver.