2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge to surpass 12,000 ft altitude three times
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Thursday, April 5, 2012

2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge to surpass 12,000 ft altitude three times

by VeloNation Press at 6:20 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Daunting race route detailed by organisers

USA Pro Cycling ChallengeClaiming that its riders will face more climbing than any other race of its kind, the organisers of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge have revealed full details of this year’s race, which will run from August 20th to 26th.

Last year’s inaugural event was already regarded as one of the toughest races due to the high altitude of many of the stages, which imposes additional physiological demands on the riders due to the low oxygen content in the air.

The 2012 edition will be even harder in that respect, as the riders will cross the ten thousand foot altitude barrier numerous times, and three times breach the level of 12,000 feet (3657m).

In comparison, the highest finish in Tour de France history is the climb of Galibier Serre-Chevalier, which featured last year. Its height? A total of 8,677 feet (2,645 m). That puts things into perspective.

“In determining the route for the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, we wanted to showcase as much of the Rocky Mountains as possible, while creating a challenging course for the riders that would provide ideal viewing locations for spectators,” race CEO Shawn Hunter said. “This year, the route will take the riders through more mountain passes than any other race of its kind, with five topping out at a minimum of 10,000 ft.”

The race will have four new host cities in 2012, namely Durango, Telluride, Montrose and Boulder. In contrast to last year, the event will finish with a time trial in Denver, maintaining the suspense as long as possible before the final winner is known.

Hunter said that the race was designed to perpetuate the feeling of an ongoing battle. “Each day of this route is a challenge; there will be nowhere to hide for these riders,” he said. “Staging the Individual Time Trial on the last day will punctuate the drama, as we expect any time lead could be taken away with the challenge and intensity of a circuit sprint. With this course, we should witness intense competition right down to the last minute.”

Details of stages:

Stage 1: Durango to Telluride – Monday, Aug. 20, 125.6 miles/202.1 km:

After two neutral laps in Durango, the riders will take in a 6.5 mile racing loop, complete the first intermediate sprint, then travel towards Telluride. The peloton will scale the Hesperus Climb, race along exposed plains en route to the second Sprint Line in the town of Dolores, then tackle the 30 mile plus Lizard Head Pass climb, which peaks at 10,222 ft. A 15 mile technical descent will bring the riders to Telluride, where a technical finale will crown the first race leader.

Stage 2: Montrose to Crested Butte – Tuesday, Aug. 21, 99.2 miles/159.6 km:

Covering 99 miles in total, the first 65 miles of that will be along new roads before returning to the routes used last year. The stage starts with a neutral lap at Montrose Pavillion, giving the crowds an opportunity to cheer the riders along, then travels east over the short climbs of Cerro Summit and Blue Mesa Summit, then along the shores of Blue Mesa Reservoir towards the first intermediate sprint in Gunnison (mile 65). The riders will race on to Crested Butte, where after a second intermediate sprint there will be a two mile ride to the line. Last year Levi Leipheimer used this steep hill to grab the leader’s jersey.

Stage 3: Gunnison to Aspen – Wednesday, Aug. 22, 130.5 miles/210.0 km:

Having travelled through the town for stage two’s first intermediate sprint, the riders will start the third stage from the same location. This is the queen stage of the race and will take in two of the highest climbs in the sport.

After a short neutralized section, the riders will have an intermediate sprint on Almont, then tackle the day’s first King of the Mountain climb near Taylor Park Reservoir.

It soon heads off paved roads to tackle the 12,126 foot Cottonwood Pass, the highest point of the race. The riders will then plunge down the twisting descent to the town of Buena Vista then, after an intermediate sprint there, will head north to Twin Lakes and then on to the 12, 095 Independence Pass. There the GC will be upended as the big contenders slug it out prior to the descent to Aspen.

Stage 4: Aspen to Beaver Creek – Thursday, Aug. 23, 97.2 miles/156.4 km:

After tackling Independence Pass on stage three, the riders will encounter it yet again in the early part of what will be a very tough fourth stage. They hit the slopes after several neutralized laps in Aspen, then after the summit face 75 miles of high altitude racing. They will pass through Leadville, the highest incorporated city in the United States at 10,152 ft, scale the Continental Divide at Tennessee Pass (10,424 ft.), descend to Minturn and finish atop the 2.5 mile Beaver’s Creek climb, which rises almost 1,000 feet.

Stage 5: Breckenridge to Colorado Springs – Friday, Aug. 24, 117.9 miles/189.7 km:

The action could begin very early on during this stage, with the ten mile, 11,500 foot altitude climb of Hoosier pass coming just after the start in Breckenridge. This will give breakaway riders a platform for what is an otherwise mainly flat stage, earmarked for sprinters after days of playing second fiddle to the climbers.

The sole concession later on is a technical uphill run through the Garden of the Gods, where the 2011 prologue took place. The stage concludes with three laps of a finishing circuit in Colorado Springs, the only such circuit in this year’s race.

Stage 6: Golden to Boulder – Saturday, Aug. 25, 103.3 miles/166.2 km:

Large crowds are expected in Golden for the start of the penultimate stage and, to enable them to see the riders close up, there will be several circuit laps prior to the race rolling north on the CO 93 en route to Boulder. Once they get there, an intermediate sprint will be held adjacent to the Pearl Street Mall and the USA Pro Challenge expo area, then the riders travel up Boulder Canyon.

After that they will travel over climbs of over 9,300 feet altitude in the Peak to Peak Highway, descend to contest an intermediate sprint in Lyons, tackle local climbs up Lefthand Canyon and Lee Hill Road, then return to downtown Boulder prior to a grueling final battle on Flagstaff Mountain.

Stage 7: Denver Individual Time Trial – Sunday, Aug. 26, 9.5 miles/15.3 km:

The 2012 USA Pro Cycling challenge will conclude with a flat, fast individual time trial in Denver. Riders such as USA champion Dave Zabriskie (Garmin Barracuda) and 2011 race winner Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma Quick Step) should be amongst the top riders, and the final general classification will be settled on this day. If things work out as the organisers hope, it'll go right down to the wire...



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