The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is back, and is quickly becoming the premier multi-stage professional cycling event in North America. Boasting some of the best riders and teams in the world, grueling high-altitude ascents, and Colorado’s breathtaking alpine scenery, the 2014 USA Pro Cycling Challenge will feature several stages in Colorado Ski Country, with ample opportunities for cycling enthusiasts to take in the action and enjoy a late summer day in the mountains. Here’s your itinerary for viewing this elite cycling event in Ski Country: August 18 - Stage 1 - Aspen: Stage 1 of the 2013 race was such a success, they decided to do it again. The Aspen/Snowmass Circuit may be short on distance, but it packs a punch. At 65 miles (3 laps of nearly 22 miles each), and 2,300 ft. of climbing per lap with minimal recovery, this circuit puts the “challenge” in USA Pro Challenge. Each lap will see the riders grind up to Snowmass Village, then a quick descent leads to two short but steep climbs, and a quick loop through downtown before doing it all again. Pair that with a starting elevation of 7,900 ft. and you have one tough opening day.
August 19 – Stage 2 – Aspen to Crested Butte: Each year the USA Pro Challenge searches for ways to include more of Colorado’s deep cycling history. Last year it was the climb up Bachelor Gulch and this time around it will be the unpredictable Kebler Pass.Stage 2 opens fast by ripping down the Aspen Valley through the sprint cities of Basalt and Carbondale before tackling the 8,700 ft. McClure Pass. A short descent brings the race to Gunnison County road 12, which is a 20-mile rollercoaster that constantly changes from pavement to dirt and back again, while topping out at 9,900 ft. over Kebler Pass. A technical descent into Crested Butte brings the race back to familiar terrain. As in 2011 and 2012, the race will finish up with a sprint through downtown Crested Butte and the steep finish climb up to Mt. Crested Butte.
August 20 – Stage 3 – Gunnison to Monarch Mountain: During Stage 3 of the 2014 race, riders will not only have to contend with a mountaintop finish, they also will have to pass over it first, giving spectators a chance to see the race multiple times from the same vantage point. Stage 3 starts in Gunnison and heads east for 35 miles before tackling the 11,300 ft. monster that is Monarch Pass. The riders will then descend the eastern slope of the pass and do two 9-mile loops through Salida and the surrounding countryside. Then it’s game time as they tackle nearly 20 miles of climbing to a finish at 10,800 ft.-Monarch Mountain Ski Area.