The inaugural Women’s USA Pro Challenge route was announced today along with the announcement of participating teams and elite riders including Kristin Armstrong, the two-time Individual Time Trial Olympic gold medalist. The highly anticipated course details revealed a variety of cycling challenges for the first-ever chase for the women’s yellow jersey.
“Our fans and professional riders have passionately supported a women’s race to be part of the Pro Challenge since the race’s inception,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge. “We’re thrilled to finally share the details for the 2015 event and give special thanks to our host cities for their tremendous support and who have agreed to take on the additional leadership roles to make this possible. We also want to thank our partners for the women’s race which include: Lexus, Smashburger, and Sierra Nevada. We know these top female competitors will inspire a new generation of athletes.”
The pros taking to the streets of the Women’s USA Pro Challenge will be faced with a little bit of everything. The individual time trial in Breckenridge will feature the same technical, difficult course as the men will ride. The second stage will feature a challenging road race and the final stage will be a criterium to showcase the sprinters.
“The goal in developing the route for this first Women’s USA Pro Challenge was to create a challenging and diverse course using the incredible terrain that Colorado offers,” said Sean Petty, Race Director for the Women’s USA Pro Challenge. “The great folks in Breckenridge, Fort Collins and Golden really embraced our philosophy and I’m proud we are offering something for every type of rider during the three days of racing. We wanted to honor the legacy of women’s stage racing in Colorado as it’s the first time since 1988 that some of the best men and women in the world will be sharing courses at a major, international stage race in our beautiful state.”
The Women’s USA Pro Challenge will host a competitive field of cyclists and some of the best teams in the world. One of those cyclists includes two-time Olympic Time Trial Gold medalist Kristin Armstrong (2008, 2012) and former Time Trial World Champion. Armstrong has come out of retirement for the second time with her sights set on winning another gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
“Having the women’s peloton become part of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge is an amazing platform for our sport,” said Kristin Armstrong, professional cyclist for Team TWENTY16 p/b Sho-Air. “Women’s cycling is truly moving in the right direction and we’re grateful for the opportunity. I’m excited to make this event part of my preparation for the World Championships in Richmond, Virginia in September.”
Many of the local Colorado female riders have been waiting a long time for a race to come back to their doorstep. One of those riders is Boulder resident Mara Abbott who has been very vocal about what she would like to see in professional cycling for women in her home state.
“I’m really excited about the details on our courses,” said Mara Abbott, professional rider for Team Wiggle Honda. “All of the communities have bent over backwards to be able to put on a good show for the first year of this race and I ‘m so honored that they are showing how much they care about women’s cycling and giving us this opportunity. August can’t come soon enough.”
Some of the teams confirmed to race in the inaugural Women’s USA Pro Challenge include:
TWENTY16 p/b Sho-Air
Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies
UnitedHealthcare Professional Cycling Team
BMW p/b Happy Tooth Dental
Pepper Palace Pro Cycling p/b The Happy Tooth Team
Visit Dallas p/b Noise4Good
Colavita/Bianchi p/b Fine Cooking
DNA Cycling p/b K4
Colorado Women’s Cycling Project p/b Spark
The complete team announcement will take place in early August.
Highlights of the route include:
Stage 1 – Breckenridge Individual Time Trial — August 21, 2015
Women’s racing at the USA Pro Challenge kicks off on the same 2015 time trial course that will be shared with the male riders.
The 8.5-mile time trial starts out flat then it’s on to the climb up the steep grades of Moonstone Road for a test of climbing skills. Finally, the race could be won or lost on the technical Boreas Pass descent. The winner will feature a very strong, all-around time trialist and set the stage for the GC battle.
Stage 2 – Loveland to Ft. Collins – August 22, 2015
A gentle roll-out through Loveland will let the women riders settle in before this day of racing turns extremely competitive. Once west of Loveland things tilt up and keep climbing for nearly 20 miles as everyone tests their legs on the climb of Buckhorn Canyon. But if the climbers want to win this day they will need to hold off a charging field as the stage furiously descends Rist Canyon and the 18 miles back into Fort Collins. Can the climbers hold off the sprinters or will Fort Collins be treated to a mass field sprint by some of the fastest women in the U.S.?
Stage 3 – Golden Circuit – August 23, 2015
The women have tested their time trial legs and their climbing legs, now it’s time to test their elbows in some shoulder to shoulder technical circuit racing served up Colorado style in Golden.
This final stage is no mere promenade or flat four corner coronation for the current leader. With hills, technical corners, and plenty of time bonuses up for grabs on this tight 1.5 mile circuit, the overall winner will have to prove their worthiness for one more day. If they survive this circuit they will truly be a worthy winner of the first-ever Women’s USA Pro Challenge and will have proved their skill in all disciplines of the sport.
About the USA Pro Challenge:
Referred to as “America’s Race,” the USA Pro Challenge will take place August 17-23, 2015. For seven consecutive days, the world’s top athletes race through the majestic Colorado Rockies, reaching higher altitudes than they’ve ever had to endure. The inaugural Women’s USA Pro Challenge is a three-day invitation-only event and will kick off in Breckenridge on August 21st and conclude in Golden on August 23rd. One of the largest cycling events in U.S. history and the largest spectator event in the history of the state, the USA Pro Challenge is back for 2015. Featuring a challenging course, the fifth annual race will spotlight the best of the best in professional cycling and some of America’s most beautiful scenery.
More information can be found online at prochallenge.com and on Twitter at @USAProChallenge.
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