Snowmass to host first stage of Colorado Classic women’s cycling race in August |

Snowmass to host first stage of Colorado Classic women’s cycling race in August

Major professional cycling is returning to the Roaring Fork Valley after a five-year hiatus. It was announced Monday that Snowmass Village will be the first of four stops on this year’s Colorado Classic road race, which takes place in late August and concludes in Denver.

This will only be the fourth running of the Colorado Classic, which made its debut in 2017. It effectively replaced the short-lived USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which ran from 2011 until 2015. Aspen had been a regular stop on the Pro Challenge, and major pro cycling hasn’t returned to the area since that final race in 2015.

The Colorado Classic began as a men’s and women’s event in 2017, but last year RPM Events Group, which owns and operates the race, dropped the men’s race and made it a rare women’s-only event. It’s billed as North America’s only stand-alone women’s professional stage race.

“Usually you see a men’s race with a women’s component that can end up getting dropped because of finances,” Lucy Diaz, CEO of RPM Events Group, told The Aspen Times. “Well, we said why not drop the men’s races since men have three times more opportunities to compete than women? Why not flip the traditional structure on its head and give women a race all to themselves?”

The 2020 Colorado Classic gets underway Aug. 27 in Snowmass Village. While the full routes haven’t been announced, a news release said the 60-mile course in Snowmass “will be a dynamic one with screaming descents, punchy hills, two larger climbs with gravel sections and a climb to the finish.” Of note, 10 of the 60 miles will be on gravel roads.

“Snowmass Village is a world renowned destination for biking,” Rose Abello, director of Snowmass Tourism, said in the news release. “We were recently designated as an IMBA Gold-Level Ride Center for our mountain biking, and we look forward to shining a light on our fabulous road riding by having pro women enjoy Snowmass and the area.”

After Snowmass, the race moves to Avon, which also hosted the second stage of the 2019 race. Stage 3 on Aug. 29 will be in Boulder, with the race wrapping up Aug. 30 in Denver.

“It’s a great place to kick off,” Diaz said of Snowmass. “There will definitely be a lot of opportunities for people to support the riders and understand what it takes to take on these miles.”

Last year’s Colorado Classic was dominated from start to finish by Indiana’s Chloe Dygert, a 2016 Olympic silver medalist who rides for Sho-Air TWENTY20. The 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo are scheduled for July 24 to Aug. 9 — pending any postponements or cancellations related to the coronavirus — where Dygert is certainly one of the gold-medal favorites.

There was no indication on what athletes, such as Dygert, would be competing in the 2020 Colorado Classic.

“We are happy to support the Colorado Classic as it continues to build momentum as the pinnacle event for women’s cycling in North America,” Cathy Ritter, director of the Colorado Tourism Office, said in the news release. “The latest race route will not only create a challenging course for these top women cyclists, but showcase some of the most beautiful landscapes in Colorado.”

Maddie Vincent contributed to this report.