Independence Pass will temporary close to motorists for Pro Challenge, Aug. 19-20 |

Independence Pass will temporary close to motorists for Pro Challenge, Aug. 19-20

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
Aspen-based pro cyclist Tejay van Garderen leaves Aspen for the Stage 2 start of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge. The two-time race champion won't return this year, leaving the yellow jersey open to a new generation of young riders.
Special to the Daily |

The fifth edition of the USA Pro Challenge rolls in and out of Aspen over the course of two days next month, and motorists can expect temporary closures of Independence Pass both days.

Aspen will play host Aug. 19 and 20 for Stages 3 and 4. Nancy Lesley, the city’s director of special events, told county commissioners Wednesday that the pass likely will be closed to traffic from 1 to 5:30 p.m. the first day, and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the second day.

Both closures will start at the Mountain Valley subdivision east of Aspen off Highway 82.

The decision was made last week after a discussion among city officials, the Colorado State Patrol and other law enforcement, Lesley told the board.

Lesley said information fliers for the public will be distributed soon. Similar to last year, a portion of Main Street will close Aug. 18, the day before the Colorado stage race comes to town, to allow set-up. Motorists will be detoured through the West End and the east side neighborhood, Lesley said.

The Pro Challenge starts Aug. 17 in Steamboat Springs with a circuit race. The third stage, a 101-mile leg that begins at Copper Mountain, ultimately will take racers to downtown Aspen by way of Independence Pass.

While the pass will be closed for roughly 41/2 hours that day, Lesley said motorists wanting to drive to Denver, even if they go over the pass before the closure, must be mindful that they could face road closures closer to Copper because of the race.

The fourth stage will be daunting for riders, thanks to its 126-mile route starting in Aspen and traveling over the western side of Independence Pass en route to Breckenridge.

Aspen resident Tejay van Garderen triumphed in the Pro Challenge last year and in 2013. He’s currently third overall in the Tour de France, which ends July 26.

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