Steamboat Springs Some of the best cyclists in the world will pedal into Steamboat Springs via Colorado Highway 131 on Aug. 26 as part of Stage 4 of the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge. They’ll wake up the next day and leave Steamboat via U.S. Highway 40 over Rabbit Ears Pass.
The routes for all six stages of the road race that is expected to bring an international audience to Colorado’s high country were announced Monday. Among them were Stages 4 and 5, the former of which ends in downtown Steamboat and the latter of which takes off from the base of Steamboat Ski Area.
Stage 4 begins Aug. 26 in Avon and heads west to connect with Colo. 131 at Wolcott. From there, the estimated 128 professional cyclists head north into Routt County, passing State Bridge, McCoy, Bond, Toponas, Yampa, Phippsburg and Oak Creek before finishing at Sixth Street and Lincoln Avenue in downtown Steamboat. The stage totals 83 miles.
Stage 5 begins the next morning from the base of Steamboat Ski Area. Riders will jump onto U.S. 40 and head east over Rabbit Ears Pass, which will play host to a King of the Mountain line. The cyclists will proceed to Kremmling and a sprint line before turning south onto Colorado Highway 9. The stage doesn’t end until Breckenridge, 106 miles from the Mount Werner start.
A glance at the other stages:
■ Prologue, Aug. 22: Riders will descend from Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs in one-minute intervals, ending 5.2 miles later in downtown Colorado Springs.
■ Stage 1, Aug. 23: Starting in downtown Salida, racers will ride 100 miles to Mount Crested Butte, including an ascent of 11,315-foot Monarch Pass. The stage features the first King of the Mountain line and two sprint lines.
■ Stage 2, Aug. 24: Organizers are calling this “Queen Stage” the crown jewel of the race. Racers begin in Gunnison and summit two 12,000-foot passes before ending 131 miles later in downtown Aspen.
■ Stage 3, Aug. 25: The Vail Time Trial starts in the heart of Vail Village and heads 10 miles uphill toward Vail Pass.
■ Stage 6, Aug. 28: The final stage climbs up and then descends Lookout Mountain outside of Golden, where the King of the Mountain will be decided. Riders begin the stage in downtown Golden and end it, and the seven-day race, after six laps on a five-mile circuit along Speer Boulevard. The finish line is in Civic Center Park.
Race organizers are touting the USA Pro Cycling Challenge as the largest spectator event to ever take place in Colorado and America’s answer to the Tour de France. The race will be televised on NBC and Versus.
A local organizing committee has been meeting for months to plan Steamboat’s host duties.
Stage 5 flyover video (Google Earth required)
Stage 4 flyover video (Google Earth required)