USA Pro Challenge: Back to Independence Pass in Stage 4 |

USA Pro Challenge: Back to Independence Pass in Stage 4

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
The peloton in the USA Pro Challenge cruises down Rabbit Ears Pass near Steamboat Springs earlier this week. Independence Pass near Aspen is on the USA Pro Schedule for Thursday.
John F. Russell / Steamboat Today |

Where do we go from here?

Back over Independence Pass, of course.

The USA Pro Challenge – circa 2015 — marches on today when the cyclists leave Aspen bound for Breckenridge.

They are scheduled to head out of Aspen at 10:15 a.m. today with two parade, non-race laps around downtown Aspen.

Then, they head out Highway 82 for the re-climb of Independence Pass.

That’s just the start of a testing 126-mile stage today that eventually will finish in downtown Breckenridge.

The first 20 miles of today’s stage will take the peloton up 4,000 vertical feet to the 12,095-foot summit of the pass.

The cyclists will tear down the east side of the pass heading for two more passes as well as sprint-line competitions in Buena Vista and Fairplay.

The cyclists will climb Trout Creek Pass and then Hoosier Pass before the long descent to Breckenridge and the finish of Stage 4.

Coming after the first climb of Independence Pass on Wednesday, Stage 4 and another climb of the pass are expected to solidify the leaderboard among the general classification riders.

The USA Pro Challenge will stay overnight in Breckenridge aftet today’s stage in advance of Friday’s Breckenridge Time Trial, a new event this year to the Colorado stage race.

The time-trial course will cover 8.5 miles aroiund Breckenridge, all above 9,000 feet.

The time-trial course includes a climb up Moonstone Road and a rapid descent of Boreas Pass back into Breckenridge.

On Saturday, the USA Pro Challenge will move to the Front Range for the Loveland to Fort Collins Stage 6, 102 miles in all.

The route will feature climbs to Carter Lake and the infamous Rist Canyon along with the rollers along Horsetooth Reservoir.

That will set up the final stage of 2015, a Golden-to-Denver ride that replicates the final stage of the 2011 USA Pro Challenge.

It starts with a loop through Golden before the 4-mile climb of Lookout Mountain before another pass through Golden.

Then, it’s on to Wheat Ridge and Lakewood en route to the ultimate finish in Denver with the downtown Denver circuit (four laps) around Civic Center Park and City Park.

The final 58 miles will complete 865 miles of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge, the fifth annual Colorado professional stage race.

In addition, the USA Women’s Pro Challenge will take off Friday in Breckenridge with an individual time trial for the first of three women’s stages this year.

On Saturday, the women will race the Loveland to Fort Collins road course in advance of the men’s race.

The Women’s USA Pro Challenge will conclude Sunday with a circuit race in downtown Golden.

Aspen High School/Universitiy of Colorado graduate Abby Mickey will ride in the women’s challenge this year, representing UnitedHealthcare.