USA Pro Challenge entries confirmed
The Aspen Times
The big boys will be here.
The little dudes of professional cycling will be here, too.
Officials with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge this week confirmed the teams that will participate in the 2013 race, scheduled to start Aug. 19 in Aspen.
The field will feature teams from eight different countries, including the top three teams from the 2012 Tour de France.
The list includes the international heavyweights, also known as the UCI ProTeams, led by Colorado-based Team Garmin-Sharp and the BMC Racing Team of Aspen favorite Tejay van Garderen.
Van Garderen, who won the Tour of California stage race earlier this summer, likely will be among the favorites at the 2013 USA Pro Challenge. He was third in the inaugural Colorado tour and second in last year’s edition.
Van Garderen is married to Aspen native Jessica Phillips. They had their first child earlier this year.
The other top-line teams scheduled to race in Aspen and Snowmass are Cannondale Pro Cycling, RadioShack Leopard Trek, Sky Procycling, Team Argos-Shimano and Team Saxo-Tinkoff.
Cannondale is an Italian-based team. RadioShack is based in Luxembourg. Sky is a Great Britain entry and the team of 2012 Tour de France winner Bradley Wiggins.
Team Argos-Shimano is based in the Netherlands. Saxo-Tinkoff is from Denmark.
“Interest from teams continues to grow year after year, making the selection of these 16 even more difficult,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge. “We looked at the stats and listened to the fans.”
Hunter is convinced the 2013 lineup will be the most competitive yet with teams bringing experience from the previous two USA Pro Challenge races.
“It’s a great race that has everything,” said Carsten Jeppesen, head of technical operations for Sky. “With climbing, sprints and a time trial (Vail), as well as good crowds, it’s a mini-tour. It’s the kind of race we really like.”
He said Sky will bring a strong team.
“And there are some strong young American riders in Joe (Dombrowski) and Ian (Boswell), who would love to be there in front of their home crowd,” Jeppesen said. “It’s only our second race in the U.S., and we aim to put on a good show.”
The USA Pro Challenge, which will open Aug. 19 with an Aspen/Snowmass circuit race, will include four UCI Professional Continental Teams,.
Those teams include the China-based Champion System Pro Cycling Team, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, Colombia and Team Novo Nordisk.
Five teams from the ranks of the UCI Continental Teams also will race in the 2013 USA Pro Challenge, including the Jelly Belly/Kenda team that features Aspen native Alex Hagman.
Hagman, who was a national champions as a collegiate mountain biker at Fort Lewis College in Durango, rode in the 2011 USA Pro Challenge, finishing in the top 40 in spite of riding for a domestic team.
Hagman has been a pro road racer from the time he finished his college racing career, where he raced in all disciplines.
Hagman’s team includes a former Fort Lewis College teammate, sprinter/time trialer Ian Burnett.
The other UCI Continental entries in the 2013 USA Pro Challenge are Bissell Pro Cycling, Bontrager Cycling Team, Optum/Kelly Benefit Strategies and Jamis-Hagens Berman/Sutter Home.
“We always look forward to racing in the USA Pro Challenge every year,” said Jim Ochowicz, the head of BMC Racing. “It tests our resources in the mountains of Colorado, which are famous in the world of cycling for their difficult ascents and descents.”
After the Aspen/Snowmass circuit race on Aug. 19, the cyclists will start Stage 2 in Aspen on Aug. 20.
They will ride over Independence Pass with a finish in Breckenridge.
The third stage will go from Breck to Steamboat Springs.
The following day, Aug. 22, the cyclists will ride from Steamboat to Beaver Creek with an uphill finish.
The Vail Time Trial, a throwback to the days of the Coors Classic and the Red Zinger Classic, will be held Aug. 23.
The penultimate stage will take riders from Loveland to Fort Collins on Aug. 24.
The final stage of the eight-stage, 599-mile race will be a Denver circuit race on Aug. 25.
Complete team rosters will be announced closer to the race.
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For Basalt, one of the preseason frontrunners in the Western Slope League, Friday’s loss puts its playoff hopes in jeopardy, while Aspen’s loss to the Bulldogs all but eliminates it from postseason contention.