USA Pro Challenge begins trek to Steamboat |

USA Pro Challenge begins trek to Steamboat

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect that Stage 4 leaves Steamboat Springs at 11 a.m.

They're coming.

Well, they're starting, anyway. The USA Pro Challenge kicks off at 1:05 p.m. Monday in Aspen, a 66-mile stage beginning and ending in the town. It's the start of a journey that will define the week for many — fans of cycling and otherwise — in Steamboat Springs.

Steamboat will play host to the star-studded race starting Wednesday, when the peloton will race over Rabbit Ears Pass for what is expected to be a 4:30 p.m. finish in downtown Steamboat Springs.

The race will come in the middle of the city's inaugural bike week and Wednesday it will kick off two days of furious activities and road closures in the town.

The Pro Challenge features a stacked field again this year, led by Tour de France royalty. This year's champion, British rider Chris Froome, will be there, as will Slovakian Peter Sagan, who won the green jersey in this year's Tour.

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They'll be joined by 2010 Tour champ Andy Schleck, who became a Steamboat Springs favorite in 2011 when he spent the weeks before that year's inaugural Pro Challenge training in and around Steamboat Springs.

The race rides from Aspen to Breckenridge on Tuesday for Stage 2, 126 miles over some of the toughest mountain passes on this year's schedule. Then Wednesday, it rushes toward Steamboat Springs via U.S. Highway 9 and U.S. 40. It's scheduled to depart from Breckenridge at 12:10 p.m. and hit a little more than four hours and 106 miles later.

The day will be a long one from revelers in Steamboat. The action will begin with a 1 p.m. children's strider race downtown. A bike polo game will follow at 2 p.m. and after the day's awards ceremony, the band Loose Change will play downtown in front of the courthouse.

Thursday will begin with a chance for fans to meet the riders, from 10 to 11 a.m. at the base of Steamboat Ski Area. The race will depart town at 11 a.m., follow Twentymile Road out of town to Colorado Highway 131, then head south to Beaver Creek.

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