Charity in for women’s USA Pro Challenge | SteamboatToday.com

Charity in for women’s USA Pro Challenge

Steamboat Springs pro cyclist Amy Charity is on the 2015 USA Pro Challenge women's roster for her Optum Pro Racing team.

— Amy Charity stood at the finish line of the 2013 USA Pro Challenge men's finish in downtown Steamboat Springs, cheering along with thousands of others as Peter Sagan raced to the victory.

In the back of her mind she couldn't help but think she'd like her own crack at the race.

Now she's getting it.

Charity and her Optum Pro Cycling teammates are in, along with 11 other women's cycling teams, for this year's USA Pro Challenge ā€” the first time the event has included a women's race with its traditional slate of men's stages.

"It's just an honor to be able to race it," Charity said. "It's an international event, and it's a really big deal for women's cycling."

She is joined on the race's roster by teammates Jasmin Glaesser, Lex Albrecht, Alison Tetrick and Maura Kinsella.

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The field will also include Kristin Armstrong, an Olympic time trial gold medalist from the 2008 and 2012 games, and Mara Abbott, another top women's rider.

The three-day stage race starts with Stage 5 of the men's event in Breckenridge on Friday, Aug. 21 for a time trial that will mirror the men's event.

After that, the women's race will keep a similar but altered path compared to the men's seven-stage race. The women will ride from Loveland to Fort Collins on Saturday, then finish with a criterium in downtown Golden on Sunday.

Charity has actually been on the mend following a nasty mountain bike crash on Emerald Mountain in Steamboat that left her with a broken elbow. (She said, with a laugh, road riding is an entirely different sport.)

That injury didn't keep her off the bike. She was racing again soon after and will start next week's event hungry.

She said she's likely to factor in as a support rider for her team, a role she's happy to have.

The announced field of athletes includes 12 teams and 67 total riders.

"The team we're bringing, we have two very strong climbers, and we have a time trial specialist," said Charity, who classifies herself as more of an all-around rider. "We will have a lot of cards to play."

The race won't be the first she's done in Colorado, not by a long shot. It will, however, be the biggest, and she said she's been looking forward to the opportunity since the event was announced.

"Racing at home to me is just exciting because it will be easy for my friends and family to watch," she said. "It's a couple of hours of driving compared to a long flight. Now with my teammates coming up here, I'm excited to show them where it is we ride in Colorado."

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9