Countdown to history for Aspen’s Tejay van Garderen |

Countdown to history for Aspen’s Tejay van Garderen

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Aspen's Tejay van Garderen will begin the chase for his second conscutiv USA Pro Challenge overall title in the Aspen/Snowmass Circuit Race on Monday afternoon. Van Garderen has finished on the podium in all three previous USA Pro Challenges.
Garrett Ellwood/Getty Images | Getty Images North America

The countdown for Tejay van Garderen’s ride into history at the USA Pro Challenge is just one day away.

The 2014 edition of the Colorado professional bicycle stage race will take off in downtown Aspen with the Aspen/Snowmass Circuit Race starting at 2:10 p.m. Monday.

Van Garderen, who won the overall title at the 2013 USA Pro Challenge, has been to every step of the race’s podium since its inception in 2011.

Van Garderen, who lives in Aspen with his wife and daughter, finished third, second and first, respectively, in the first three editions of the USA Pro Challenge.

The cyclist who grew up in Bozeman, Montana, and moved to Fort Collins in high school, will attempt to become the first cyclist to win the USA Pro Challenge back to back.

He’s coming into the Colorado race with a strong and balanced BMC team; and he’s coming off his second fifth-place finish overall in the Tour de France.

Considered by many as the best U.S. hope for ultimate cycling glory in Paris, van Garderen is married to Aspen native Jessica Phillips — herself a former professional road racer.

Phillips also was a top all-around high school athlete before embarking on triathlons and eventually bicycling racing.

She’s staged a women’s bike race in Aspen in connection with the USA Pro Challenge.

Van Garderen and his BMC team will test the circuit course and its 68 miles Monday afternoon. Road closures for Highway 82 and many downtown streets go into effect for Monday afternoon’s circuit race, which will include McLain Flats as well as Owl Creek Road, Brush Creek Road, Medicine Bow and Upper Ranch Road as well as Smuggler Avenue in Aspen’s West End.

Aspen’s Main will be closed for the race, as well.

On Tuesday, Van Garderen will take off in front of family and friends as stage 2 will take the cyclists from Aspen to Crested Butte via Basalt, Carbondale, McClure Pass and Kebler Pass.

On Tuesday, the race will start in downtown Aspen at 11 a.m.

But before van Garderen initiates his drive for a second USA Pro Challenge crown, the Aspen Sprint Challenge will take the spotlight today.

The event will be held at 5 p.m. today on the Main Street portion of the course that will be set up for the pro race.

The Aspen Sprint Challenge is a team sprint tournament to raise money for the USA Cycling Development Foundation.

Teams will race in match sprints on Main as they battle for bragging rights.

Aspen locals and celebrities as well as cycling enthusiasts from all around will participate.

The field will include Aspen native Abby Mickey, a first-year pro road cyclist. She’s a former standout ski racer in high school who moved into bicycle racing at the University of Colorado.

She will race along with two-time Olympic medalist Kristin Armstrong.

Other dignitaries to compete include U.S. Olympians Chris Klug, Casey Puckett and Billy Demong.

Teams registered to compete include the Aspen Valley Ski Club, Caribou Club, CBL properties, Progressive Insurance, Team Aspen, Team Quadzilla, Team UPC and Team ZG.

The AVSC team will include Mickey, Puckett, Demong and Michael Ward, a Nordic combined racer from Aspen.

Teams can still enter the Aspen Sprint Challenge. Deadline is 5 p.m. today.

For more information, contact Steve McCauley at 719-425-5883.