The third annual USA Pro Challenge will feature a return to the iconic Vail Pass time trial, venture into northern Colorado for a hilly stage, and finish with a circuit race in Denver, race organizers revealed Thursday.
Past winners of the race include Levi Leipheimer in 2011 and Christian Vande Velde in 2012. While teams have yet to be announced for the 2013 race, most of the top riders from American peloton and several of the world's best teams are expected to be in attendance.
“We’ve set out to create the greatest professional cycling event in the U.S. and with each edition the route continues to evolve, the competition continues to be fierce, and the fans continue to come out in droves,” said the race's CEO, Shawn Hunter. “In looking at the route we have outlined, each day is a challenge, which will create some amazing racing. This year is looking like it will be the best yet.”
Held between Aug. 19-25, the race will feature two new host cities—Loveland and Fort Collins–while revisiting some of past year's most grueling roads.
Stage 1: Aspen Circuit Race. New for 2013, riders will cover only 66 miles in three 22-mile laps of a hilly circuit for a total of 9,240 ft of climbing.
Stage 2: Aspen to Breckenridge. Riders will tackle the familiar roads of Independence Pass, the highest point reached by any professional cycling race before covering Hoosier Pass and Moonstone Road in Breckenridge.
Stage 3: Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs. After leaving Breckenridge, riders will climb over Rabbit Ears Pass and race into Steamboat Springs.
Stage 4: Steamboat Springs to Beaver Creek. The race's queen stage finishes with a steep ascent up Bachelors Gulch with pitches up to 18 percent.
Stage 5: Vail Individual Time Trial. After last year's exclusion, Vail Pass will again be a race against the clock and a deciding stage of the race.
Stage 6: Loveland to Ft. Collins. Racers will cross the windswept plains at the outskirts of Loveland before climbing up Big Thompson Canyon to Devils Gulch, the race's last King of the Mountain Competition.
Stage 7: Denver Circuit Race. The USA Pro Challenge will return to Denver, but finish with a fast-paced circuit race instead of with a time trial.