Pro Challenge teams set | SteamboatToday.com

Pro Challenge teams set

Riders in the 2013 USA Pro Challenge pedal toward Steamboat Springs. The 16 teams that will participate in this year's race were announced Wednesday.

— Steamboat Springs cycling fans have known for months the USA Pro Challenge was coming to their doorstep for an extended stay.

Wednesday they found out who — or at least some of "who" — would be shacking up in town. The race released a list of 16 teams taking part in the event, which sets down in Steamboat next week and begins Aug. 16 for the first of two stages in the area.

The roster includes four Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) World teams, four UCI Pro Continental teams and eight UCI Continental teams.

On the top ranks, the UCI World squads, are three U.S. based squads — Cannondale-Garmin, BMC Racing, Trek Factory Racing — and one Russian, Tinkoff-Saxo.

The next rung includes Caja Rural-Seguros RGA, a Spanish team, Drapac, an Australian squad and Team Novo Nordisk and UnitedHealthcare, both United States teams.

The third level includes seven U.S. squads, Axeon, Budget Forklifts, Hincapie Racing, Jamis-Hagens Berman, Jelly Belly-Maxxis, Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies and Team SmartStop. The eighth team at that level is Cycling Academy, out of Israel.

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The race will be lacking some of the big names it's drawn in the past, but local fans said there's more than enough to get excited about.

"It's going to be awesome," said Corey Piscopo, director of the annual Steamboat Stage Race. "There will be some names that people who follow cycling will know, plus it will be fun to actually root from some of the U.S. teams. This is one of the few chances you get to see them go against these bigger international teams, so that will be very cool."

The list includes teams from every level that have raced in Colorado before, as well as some newcomers. It doesn't include as many top tier teams as past Pro Challenges have, however.

Last year's race included five teams in the top tier, compared to four this season. In 2013, when the last race came through Steamboat Springs, there were seven at that level.

The race is also likely to be without some of the big names it's drawn in the past.

Last year's champion, Tejay van Garderen, will opt for the La Vuelta a Espana, the grand tour in Spain that offers much more prestige in the cycling world. He had planned to defend his title and only made the switch after withdrawing last month from the Tour de France.

Andy Schleck, who won Steamboat Springs' heart when he trained in town before the 2011 Pro Challenge, retired a year ago. His brother, Frank Schleck, who is still racing for Trek, is competing in Utah this week, but will leave afterward to ride in Spain.

Peter Sagan, a hero of this year's Tour de France and the stage winner in Steamboat in 2013, is also unlikely to compete in Colorado again, though his Tinkoff-Saxo team will.

For the second consecutive year, none of the podium finishers from the recently completed Tour de France will ride in Colorado.

The full team rosters for the race have not yet been released.

"It will be good regardless," Piscopo said. "It's going to be a great community event and awesome for the town."

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

2015 USA Pro Challenge teams

UCI World Teams

BMC Racing Team (USA)

Team Cannondale-Garmin (USA)

Trek Factory Racing (USA)

Tinkoff-Saxo (RUS)

UCI Professional Continental Teams

Caja Rural-Seguros RGA (ESP)

Drapac Professional Cycling (AUS)

Team Novo Nordisk (USA)

UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA

UCI Continental Teams

Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies (USA)

Team SmartStop (USA)

Hincapie Racing Team (USA)

Jamis-Hagens Berman (USA)

Jelly Belly presented by MAXXIS (USA)

Axeon Cycling Team (USA)

Team Budget Forklifts (AUS)

Cycling Academy (ISR)