Cycling teams heading to Aspen for USA Pro Challenge
The Aspen Times
BMC will be here.
So will Garmin-Sharp.
And Trek and Saxo-Tinkoff.
The big boys will be in Aspen and Snowmass Village again this year for the fourth annual USA Pro Challenge.
The Colorado stage race will kick off again this year with the Aspen/Snowmass Circuit Race as the opening stage on Monday, Aug. 18.
Stage 2 on Aug. 19 will start in Aspen and then go to Crested Butte via Highway 82, Basalt, Carbondale, Highway 133, McClure Pass and Kebler Pass with miles of unpaved road.
In anticipation of the fourth annual USA Pro Challenge, race officials this week announced officially the 16 teams that will be riding this year.
Five of the top-level teams from the UCI Pro Team division will be in the 16-team field.
They include defending team champion BMC with defending USA Pro Challenge overall winner Tejay van Garderen, a part-time resident of Aspen.
The other top-level teams are Colorado-based Garmin-Sharp, Cannondale, Trek Factory Racing and Saxo-Tinkoff.
In all, six countries will be represented among the 16 teams racing in Colorado’s seven-day stage race.
The UCI Professional Continental teams entered this year include Drapac Professional Cycling, Team NetApp-Endura, Team Novo Nordisk and UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team.
The UCI Continental teams scheduled to race include Bissell Development Team, Hincapie Sportswear Development Team, Jamis-Hagens Berman/Sutter Home, Jelly Belly/Maxxis, Optum/Kelly Benefit Strategies, Rapha Condor JLT and Team SmartStop.
The Bissell Development Team includes recent Aspen High School graduate Keegan Swirbul, a first-year pro cyclist.
“We consistently get such an overwhelmingly positive response from the teams that participate in the Pro Challenge each year,” said Rick Schaden, owner of the USA Pro Challenge.
Garmin-Sharp will race for the fourth consecutive year in the USA Pro Challenge.
“We’ve had huge success in the Pro Challenge the past three years, and we’re looking forward to returning for a fourth,” said Jonathan Vaughters, the CEO of Slipstream Sports and Team Garmin-Sharp. “As a Colorado-based team, this is a race we look forward to all year, and the riders always bring their A-game.”
Vaughters, who grew up in Denver, said the team last year featured Australian Lachlan Morton, who won the Best Young Rider competition. And Garmin’s Tom Danielson, a Boulder resident, finished third overall.
Two years ago, Danielson won the USA Pro Challenge stage that finished in downtown Aspen. He rode a solo breakaway on Independence Pass to secure the stage win.
“The USA Pro Challenge has featured some of the best teams in the world over the last three years, and 2014 will be no different,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge. “We’re giving cycling fans in the United States the chance to see the teams they love up close and in person. Interest in the race continues to grow.”
Cannondale, the team that featured Peter Sagan’s four stage wins last year, is back in 2014.
“We’re really looking forward to racing in the USA Pro Challenge again this year,” Cannondale Team Director Alberto Volpi said. “With tough, competitive racing and amazing crowds, this is the kind of race we love. Last year the team rode really well, and Peter Sagan took the sprint jersey. This year, we’re coming back to take stages and be again among the main contenders. We’ll certainly bring a strong team.”
UCI Pro Teams
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Cannondale Pro Cycling (ITA)
Team Garmin-Sharp (USA)
Trek Factory Racing (USA)
UCI Pro Continental Teams
Drapac Professional Cycling (AUS)
Team NetApp–Endura (GER)
Team Novo Nordisk (USA)
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA)
UCI Continental Teams
Bissell Development Team (USA)
Hincapie Sportswear Development Team (USA)
Jamis-Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home (USA)
Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis (USA)
Optum Presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies (USA)
Rapha Condor JLT (GBR)
Team SmartStop (USA)
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Peter Arnold’s playing career ended after high school, but his time on the ice continues a few decades later. A longtime USA Hockey official and new Aspen resident, Arnold is searching for the next generation of hockey referees among the youth ranks here in the Roaring Fork Valley.