Aspen is set to kick off the Tour de France of America this August. The USA Pro Cycling Challenge, the state’s largest spectator event in history, winds professional cyclists through mountain passes, valley floors and crowd-lined city streets in seven days, Aug. 19-26, and it all begins in the Roaring Fork Valley. Stage One consists of a circuit race in Aspen on Aug. 19, and the starting gun will go off in Aspen for Stage Two, Aug. 20, sending riders on their way to Breckendrige. The nearly 600-mile course stops in eight host cities and ends in Denver.
“The most important thing to us in creating the route for the 2013 USA Pro Challenge was to find a course that would be safe and challenging for the riders, while providing ideal viewing locations for the crowds of spectators,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge. “This year we are, once again, taking them to the highest point of any professional cycling race with Independence Pass. We’re also returning to the iconic Time Trial route in Vail. The best in the sport will be racing through Colorado communities for what will be an epic week in professional cycling.”
The 2013 USA Pro Challenge begins with three 22-mile laps–66 miles total–involving 3,080 feet of climbing per lap. Racers will cross the Maroon Creek Bridge, grind up to Snowmass Village, and take a quick descent leads to two short, but steep climbs before doing it all again.
Stage Two takes riders up the familiar battleground of Independence Pass, as they climb 12,000 feet to highest point reached in any professional cycling race. Then they’ll continue on through Buena Vista, Fairplay and Alma, before tackling Hoosier Pass. They’ll then climb up Moonstone Rd. and bomb down Boreas Pass into Breckenridge.