Snowmass gears up for USA Pro Challenge start |

Snowmass gears up for USA Pro Challenge start

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun
Tim Vanderzanden, of Holland and a mechanic for Team Argos Shimano, works on a bike in a Snowmass upper numbered lot in 2013. This year, the lots will close to the public on Aug. 15 for USA Pro Challenge crews to park their trailers and vehicles there.
Snowmass Sun file |

You could say it takes a village to host the USA Pro Challenge.

The cycling race will once again start with a stage in Aspen/Snowmass on Aug. 18, and local hotels and businesses are getting ready to host the athletes, support crews and media personnel that infiltrate the town in the days leading up to the event.

Some have already been arriving, but the bulk will come in over the weekend, said Tim Johnson, director of sales and marketing at the Westin/Wildwood complex. A few Snowmass lodges are hosting race personnel, but the Westin probably has the biggest group, with as many as 190 room nights booked at the Westin on peak nights and 95 at the Wildwood.

“The reason that we host so many is that it feels like a little campus,” Johnson said.

The 300 to 350 athletes and team members eat breakfast and dinner in the hotel’s conference center almost every day. It’s also close to the numbered lots where teams park their trailers and vehicles.

The Timberline Condominiums, across from Lot 13, is hosting the Cannondale team, said Lucy Braillard, sales and marketing manager. Cannondale’s Peter Sagan won the Aspen/Snowmass Circuit Race last year, although he won’t be returning to Colorado for the 2014 event.

Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass, estimates Snowmass Village hotels will be about 80 percent full during the weekend leading up to Stage 1.

The good thing about this being Snowmass’ second time hosting the first stage is that the town has learned from the first year, said Kelly Vaughn, town director of communications. The upper numbered lots on Snowmelt Road will close to the public later in the week, starting Aug. 15, so as not to interfere with the Thursday night concert.

For the town, it’s “all hands on deck” to pull off an event like this, Vaughn said. The Road Division sets up signs to direct racers and spectators toward lodging and parking, extra trash receptacles have to be put out in the numbered lots for the race crews, and Animal Services monitors the lots and trash cans for bear safety.

Snowmass is also hosting some events around the race start. The opening ceremonies on Aug. 16 in Base Village will include kids’ activities, a VIP reception at Ricard, team introductions in the plaza and a DJ late-night.

The opening ceremonies are free and open to the public.

“What a wonderful way to kick off the weekend festivities,” said event producer Joseph Lang. “It’s so great to see fans of all ages come out to cheer on these exceptional athletes competing in this year’s USA Pro Challenge.”

The first stage of the race is once again a 66-mile circuit race of three laps between Aspen and Snowmass Village. The stage starts at 2:10 p.m. Aug. 18.

From 1 to 5 p.m., no vehicular traffic will be allowed into or out of Snowmass Village as both Brush Creek and Owl Creek roads will be closed to the public for the race. Aspen will also be closed to entry and exit on both Highway 82 and Power Plant Road.

For a full map of the race route and more info about events, visit