Mountain top finish and two races against the clock revealed for 2011 Quiznos Pro Challenge
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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Mountain top finish and two races against the clock revealed for 2011 Quiznos Pro Challenge

by Conal Andrews at 3:47 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
 
First details announced of new top-level Colorado race

Quiznos Pro ChallengeStarting with a prologue time trial in Colorado Springs on August 22nd and concluding six days and almost 600 miles later in Denver, the host cities of the Quiznos Pro Challenge were revealed today. The race will include that opening time trial, another race against the clock and a mountain-top finish, and should attract some of the top teams in the sport.

Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and Governor-elect and former Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper were centre stage at the presentation and while Lance Armstrong was absent, his coach Chris Carmichael was present, as were pro riders Rory Sutherland, Timmy Duggan and Tom Danielson, USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson and Denver professional football legend and avid cyclist Shannon Sharpe.

They all spoke of the importance of the event, which will be held in an area of the US which has a rich history of cycling. Aside from being home to and base of many professionals, Colorado also previously hosted the Coors Classic/Red Zinger stage race, which at one time was regarded as the fourth most important stage race in the world.

Following the prologue in Colorado Springs, the race will feature a mountain top finish on stage two between Salida to Crested Butte. It will be followed by a mountain stage from Gunnison to Aspen, then the Vail time trial previously featured in the Coors Classic.

Stage five heads from Avon to Steamboat Springs, and will start in the finish town the following morning before travelling to Breckenridge. The final stage on August 28th will run from Golden to Denver. Actual distances of stages have not yet been disclosed.

“The 120 world-class cyclists anticipated to participate in the seven-day race will begin their journey in beautiful Colorado Springs, then crisscross their way over the treacherous Rocky Mountains,” said the organisers in a release. “The region's unique topography will provide challenging climbs and extremely fast downhill legs with an awe-inspiring backdrop of several of the United States' highest mountain peaks leading to the finish in Denver.”

Crediting the reintroduction of a major stage race in Colorado to Armstrong, who spoke about it to Governor Ritter in 2009, the race has said it want to become one of the top international pro events globally.

“We are excited to welcome sports fans and the international cycling community to many of Colorado's most beautiful regions," said Governor Ritter. "The Quiznos Pro Challenge will provide a majestic tour of many of the state's natural treasures while becoming the battleground for one of the world's most intense competitions.”

Danielson finished in the top ten in this year’s Vuelta a España and is looking forward to the chance to compete in a major event in the US. “It's difficult for us to live in Europe and race against Europeans on their home turf,'' he said, according to AP. “They know everything in and out on the stages. ... I'm super excited for the race and I'm even more exited to actually show the world exactly what Colorado's about.”

His Garmin Transitions team-mate Duggan is upbeat for similar reasons. “A lot of the Europeans get to race in their own backyards all the time. Me, I'm from Colorado, I haven't had that chance here until now,” he said. “I've spent my childhood Alpine ski racing. I've competed in places like Aspen, Crested Butte, Breckenridge, places that are hosting the race. And I've spent my cycling career racing and riding on the Front Range of Colorado. So the Quiznos Pro Challenge really kind of comes full circle for me.”

With a high level of interest in the race, Quiznos chief communications officer Ellen Kramer said that there were plenty of options in terms of hosts for starts and finishes, and that the final route was carefully worked out.

"We had so much interest from incredible cities across Colorado that we could hold an event of twice the duration," she said. "We worked diligently throughout the selection process to incorporate cities that provide terrain that is unique to Colorado and delivers one of the most exciting cycling events in the world. The selected cities will make excellent partners and provide a demanding course for the world's top cyclists.”

Full details of the route will be announced at some point in the near future.

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2011 Quiznos Pro Challenge:

August 22 – Stage 1, Prologue time trial, Colorado Springs
August 23 – Stage 2, Salida to Crested Butte, mountain-top finish
August 24 – Stage 3, Gunnison to Aspen, mountain stage
August 25 – Stage 4, Vail, time trail, former Coors Classic stage
August 26 – Stage 5, Avon to Steamboat Springs
August 27 – Stage 6, Steamboat Springs to Breckenridge
August 28 – Stage 7, Golden to Denver

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