USA Pro Challenge: Racers head to Arapahoe Basin on Tuesday |

USA Pro Challenge: Racers head to Arapahoe Basin on Tuesday

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Kiel Reijnen crosses the finish line to the win the 2014 Aspen/Snowmass Circuit, the opening stage of last year's USA Pro Challenge. The cyclists will be back in downtown Aspen for the finish of Stage 3 on Wednesday afternoon.
Aspen Times file photo |

The cyclists are heading to Aspen.

The riders in the USA Pro Challenge are riding from Steamboat Springs to a mountain finish at the Arapahoe Basin Ski Area on Tuesday — Stage 2 of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge.

After Tuesday’s 10,000-foot finish at A-Basin, the cyclists will be one stage closer to Aspen.

The cyclist will set their sights on Aspen on Wednesday when Stage 3 starts at Copper Mountain Resort and finishes in downtown Aspen after a trip up and down Independence Pass.

The Stage 3 finish will be on Main Street in downtown Aspen in the afternoon (2:45-4 p.m.) The stage is scheduled to start at 11:15 a.m. at Copper Mountain, although start and finish times are subject to change because of weather and other factors.

Aspen will host the pro peloton overnight with the start of Stage 4 set for Thursday morning in downtown Aspen. Cyclists will take two parade laps around town before official starting the race and the climb back up Independence Pass. Thursday’s stage will finish in downtown Breckenride, the sit of Friday’s individual time trial.

Tuesday’s Stage 2 from Steamboat to Arapahoe Basin will cover 115 miles

The cyclists immediately tackled Rabbit Ears Pass as they left Steamboat heading for Kremmling. They will climb Ute Pass and head to Silverthorne and dillon.

Then, the stage will go east with a 5-mile climb to Arapahoe Basin and the finish of Stage 2.

Cyclists will transfer to Copper Mountain for the start of the 107-mile Stage 3 that will finish in Aspen.

Fremont Pass if first on the agenda Wednesday with a sprint through Leadville.

Then the featured climb up Independence Pass will take cyclists to 12,095 feet.

A fast descent into Aspen and a quick lap through town for the Main Street finish will wrap up Stage 3.

According to USA Pro Challenge statistics, more than half of Stage 3 will be above 10,000 feet.

Stage 4 will start with the relentless climb up Independence Pass from the Aspen side, a 20-mile effort that goes up 4,000 vertical feet.

Racers still have to climb Trout Creek and Hoosier Pass before the finish in Breckenridge. There will be sprints in Buena Vista and Fairplay.

The stage will cover a total of 126 miles.

Stage 5 this year will be a brand new offering in the USA Pro Challenge.

The event Friday is an individual time trial around Breckenridge covering 8.5 miles. The time trial course includes a climb up Moonstone Road and a rapid descent of Boreas Pass.

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 the stage for 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 familiar downtown Denver circuit (four laps) around Civic Center Park and City Park.

The final 58 miles will complete the 865 miles of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge, the fifth annual Colorado professional stage race. The race has visited Aspen very year since its inception in 2011.

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