USA Pro Cycling race draws spectators, tests Colorado traffic mettle

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The 2013 USA Pro Cycling Challenge is expected to draw record crowds to watch some of the best cyclists in the world. But the week-long event also will create unprecedented traffic complications.

As many as 1 million people are expected to crowd roadways to watch about 150 top cyclists — including 2013 Tour de France winner Chris Froome — power through seven stages starting Monday in Aspen and finishing Aug. 25 in Denver.

By far, the most trying day for motorists and law enforcement will be Saturday, when Stage 6 winds 115.2 miles over routes heavily trafficked by northern Colorado tourists.

Streets in downtown Fort Collins will begin closing Friday night. The stage begins Saturday at The Ranch complex, on the east side of Interstate 25 in Loveland, rolls up U.S. 34 through Big Thompson Canyon to Estes Park, and then back down to Fort Collins via Glen Haven, Masonville and along Horsetooth Reservoir.

"Stage 6 has been on our radar screen as our white whale," said Ashley Mohr, spokeswoman for the northern region of the Colorado Department of Transportation. "At Stage 6, you have Loveland and Fort Collins and then the course weaves through Estes Park, with several highway closures pretty close to one another. There are not a lot of alternative routes in that part of the state. There is U.S. 34 and U.S. 36 to get to Estes Park and then you are pretty much stuck."

Read more of this story on DenverPost.com.

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