Mercury Tour starts today

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— The five-part Mercury Tour mountain bike stage race will open tonight with a Prologue race.

But don't show up at Howelsen Hill hoping to see the event. This year, for the first time, the event will be held at the Headwall lift at the Steamboat Ski Area.

Some of the top cyclists in the world, including Jimena Florit, Ruthie Matthes, Travis Brown, Tinker Juarez and others will be on hand for the race.

They will start the timed event at 4 p.m. and end at 7 p.m.

The race is designed to give spectators a feel for the action, however, it will not count in the overall stage-race standings.

The first official stage of the Mercury Tour will take place at 9 a.m. Thursday with the Continental Divide Cross-County.

On Friday, the riders will take part in the second stage, the grueling Mount Werner Hill Climb. That race will start downtown at 9 a.m.

On Saturday, the third stage will take place at the base of Mount Werner as riders jockey for position in the Thunderhead Circuit. That race will begin at 11 a.m.

The final stage of the Mercury Tour, The Gondola Criterium, will take place at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

The overall winners will be determined after that race.

This is the fourth year the Mercury Tour has come to Steamboat Springs.

Florit will defend the women's title. The men's title will be up for grabs as three-time winner Jerome Chiotti sits this one out.

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