Colorado will once again welcome a new professional cycling race, after the USA Pro Cycling Challenge folded in 2016.
Welcome the Colorado Classic.
The new race covers 313 miles of what is described as "20,000 feet of intense, high-altitude climbing in four stages," starting in Colorado Springs and ending in Downtown Denver.
Unlike other prominent cycling races, the Colorado Classic is a circuit course, meaning racers will do multiple laps in each town or city. The race is therefore more viewer friendly, as spectators can see a steady flow of bikes during each stage.
Arguably the most challenging and most beautiful views of the four stages is sandwiched in the middle during Stage 2 in Breckenridge. Breckenridge, an old ski resort and mining town that sits 9,600 feet above sea level in the Rocky Mountains, will have some of the highest climbs of the race.
"As professional cyclists, we train hundreds, if not thousands of hours every year," said JellyBelly sponsored professional cyclist and Breckenridge native Taylor Shelden, "To have the strength to make it up these climbs is really important, but also the mental toughness to be able to keep going at an altitude like this, it really takes a lot."
Stage 2 in Breckenridge has 7,000 feet of climbing on its own and during the Moonstone climb portion of the race cyclists will experience a maximum 15 percent grade while riding.
"The ridge up Moonstone 10 times is just brutal," said Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula. "I can't imagine anyone does it once, let alone 10 times."
The men will do ten laps during the Breckenridge stage, the women five laps, and along the way they will be cheered on by crowds of people along the course.
This will be the eighth race the small mountain town has hosted, including five USA Pro Cycling Challenges in past years. Overtime they've established themselves as one of the most bicycle friendly towns and are rated a gold level Bicycle Friendly Community by the League of American Bicyclists.
"This is more about the future and branding the two," Mayor Mamula said, "letting people know that Breck loves the bike. We have some great races here, great local races; after the big race come through we have the Breck Epic, which is the big race in mountain biking, so we love the whole bike experience here in town and that's what we look for out of these things."
The Colorado Classic will take place from August 10-13, starting in Colorado Springs, advancing to Breckenridge, and ending with Stage 3 and Stage 4 in Denver.
If you can't make it to a race, the stages will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network.
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