Steamboat Springs Steamboat cycling spectators will have to travel if they want to catch next year’s USA Pro Challenge live. The 2014 route was announced Monday morning, and Steamboat Springs is not included.
2014 USA Pro Challenge
■ Stage 1: Aug. 18, Aspen
■ Stage 2: Aug. 19, Aspen and Crested Butte
■ Stage 3: Aug. 20, Gunnison and Monarch Mountain
■ Stage 4: Aug. 21, Colorado Springs
■ Stage 5: Aug. 22, Woodland Park and Breckenridge
■ Stage 6: Aug. 23, Vail
■ Stage 7: Aug. 24, online vote
“We knew this was going to go this way,” Local Organizing Committee Co-chair Jim Schneider said. “The race does move around a bit every year. The Pro Challenge considers Steamboat a signature city as part of the tour, but it’s nice to keep it fresh.”
Steamboat’s break from hosting a stage could be a short one, Schneider said.
He estimated at least 10,000 spectators crammed Steamboat’s main drag to watch the start and finish in August. Not long after cyclists left town, Schneider and fellow Co-chair Kara Stoller went to the Pro Challenge’s Denver headquarters to begin lobbying to have Steamboat as a 2015 race host.
The 2014 race will begin Aug. 18 in Aspen “after overwhelming support in 2013,” Pro Challenge officials wrote in a statement. Competitors then will ride from Aspen to Crested Butte on Aug. 19 for Stage 2 before continuing south into Gunnison and finishing on Monarch Mountain for Stage 3. The mountaintop finish will be the first in Pro Challenge history.
Stage 4 on Aug. 21 will hit Colorado Springs before the pack will head to Woodland Park and Breckenridge for Stage 5. Stage 6 on Aug. 23 in Vail is the closest the seven-day event will come to Steamboat.
The Stage 7 location, the final segment of the race Aug. 24, is up for an online vote. Voters can go to the Pro Challenge website and cast their vote for Golden to Denver, Boulder to Golden, Boulder to Denver, or the Denver Circuit.
Three of hosts up for vote for Stage 7 are segments from past races except for the Boulder to Golden route.
In the past, Steamboat’s Schneider has visited other stage locations and taken tabs on what Steamboat could do to improve should the race come back.
And he’s certain it will.
“The event will come back to Steamboat,” Schneider said. “We just collectively thought it’s good to keep it fresh and not over tax a community.”
To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll
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