USA Pro Challenge competitors and fans will double their pleasure on Independence Pass once again this year.
Organizers released race details Tuesday. Stage 3 from Copper Mountain to Aspen will take the racers over the east side of the pass before the descent and finish in Aspen. That stage will take place on Wednesday, Aug. 19.
The next morning the racers will start with a bang in stage 4 from Aspen to Breckenridge. They will ride over the west side of Independence Pass to start their morning.
The race route in 2012 also brought the racers over the east side of the 12,095-foot pass in one stage, then over the west side the next day.
The USA Pro Challenge is celebrating its fifth anniversary. Here’s the full route for the 2015 race:
Stage 1 features a circuit race in Steamboat Springs on Monday, Aug. 17. The 49-mile circuit will be completed twice by the racers. The route includes great vantage points for spectators in the town as well as county roads outside the town limits.
Stage 2 will take the racers from Steamboat Springs to Arapahoe Basin over Rabbit Ears Pass and Loveland Pass. It will be the race’s first climb of Loveland Pass and first visit to Arapahoe Basin.
Stage 3 starts in Copper Mountain and takes the racers over Fremont Pass, at 11,079 feet in elevation, to start their day. After blasting through Leadville, the route will take the racers around Turquoise Lake before leading back to Highway 24. The racers will make the turn onto Highway 82, go through Twin Lakes then climb the east side of Independence Pass, where King of the Mountain points will be awarded. The race finishes in downtown Aspen after a screaming descent of the pass.
The total miles of Stage 3 is 101, with about half coming above 10,000 feet in elevation.
Stage 4 is an encore from the 2013 race, with the rout from Aspen to Breckenridge. The grueling 126-mile route takes the riders over the steeper western side of Independence Pass to start the day, again awarding King of the Mountain points at the summit.
The route swings south on Highway 24 to Buena Vista, then climbs up to Fairplay and over 11,542-foot Hoosier Pass at the 111-mile mark. The descent to Breckenridge is interrupted by a tough, short climb up Moonstone Road.
Stage 5 features an 8.5-mile individual time trial in Breckenridge.
Stage 6 and the start of the weekend takes the racers to the Front Range. Stage 6 is from Loveland to Fort Collins on a new and challenging route for the Pro Challenge. The 102-mile route features springs through the flats between Windsor and Loveland, then a series of climbs punctuated by Rist Canyon at 8,008 feet before finishing in Fort Collins.
Stage 7 brings the race to a conclusion on Sunday, Aug. 23, with a route from Golden to Denver over the always-popular Lookout Mountain. The 68-mile race ends in Denver.
“We’re confident that this year’s route will provide the most exciting week of racing yet,” said USA Pro Challenge CEO Shawn Hunter in a prepared statement. “We have added new cities and a dramatic mountaintop finish that will prove to be a fierce battleground for riders eager to show they have what it takes to compete on a new climb up Loveland Pass.”