Leipheimer won the 2011 USAPCC with a TT win, and he could do the same this year. Photo: Alex Kehr/Flickr.
The hottest race on the American cycling circuit begins today in Durango, Colorado, and the event is even more stacked with talent than it was last year. True, this year doesn't have quite the marquis billing of 2011, which featured the entire Tour de France podium (e.g. Cadel Evans and both Schleck brothers). But with five Pro Tour teams, six of the top 20 finishers from this year's Grand Boucle, a full roster of domestic talent, and what most are calling a harder parcours than last year, the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge (USAPCC) promises to be dramatic.
From grand tour powerhouses like Cadel Evans, Ivan Basso, and Andreas Klöden to young American upstarts such as Timmy Duggan and Matthew Busche, a dozen or more riders could contend for the title—at least on paper. Yet by our estimation the race will most likely come down to just a couple of Americans. Not only do the home teamers have the advantage racing at altitude—much of the race is at or near 10,000 feet, with a highpoint on day three's run over 12,126-foot Cottonwood Pass—they have the added incentive of winning a major race on their home turf. Here are our predictions.