The first edition of the Colorado Classic will include 96 of the sport's top men and 75 of the best women pro cyclists, including second-place Tour de France finisher Rigoberto Uran and Colorado native and three-time Olympian Taylor Phinney, officials with the Colorado Classic announced today. With a total field of 16 men's and 13 women's teams, the return of pro racing to the Centennial State is set up for a high-energy week of racing.
"This field represents cycling's fiercest competitors from 23 nations, including Kelly Catlin, Rigoberto Uran, and Colorado's own Taylor Phinney, " said David Koff in a statement, CEO of RPM Events Group, the organization formed to put on the race. "For four days, Coloradans will have a front-row seat for incredible racing and Velorama, a three-day music festival while the race is in Denver."
The inaugural Colorado Classic features cyclists that have done well in major international races, including one-time Tour of Italy stage winners: Luxembourg's Silvan Dillier of BMC Racing, Italy's Marco Canola of team Nippo-Vini Fantini, and New Zealand's Greg Henderson of United Heathcare Pro Cycling.
This year's men's field includes riders who have fared well in prestigious North American races: Trek-Segafredo will feature former USA Pro Challenge stage winners Kiel Reijnen of the United States and Laurent Didier of Luxembourg; Holowesko-Citadel presented by Hincapie Sportswear's Robin Carpenter, last year's Tour of Alberta champion; UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team's Janier Acevedo, a stage winner and podium finisher in the Tour of California; Canada's Rob Britton of Rally Cycling, third overall in the 2015 USA Pro Challenge; Sergei Tvetcov of Team Jelly Belly presented by MAXXIS, third overall in the 2014 USA Pro Challenge; Cannondale-Drapac's Alex Howes, a past stage winner of the USA Pro Challenge and Lawson Craddock, third place finisher in the Tour of California; and UAE's Vegard Stake Laengen of Norway, the sixth place finisher in this year's Tour of California.
"Our high-caliber field means fast-paced, competitive racing on courses that offer fans multiple chances to see the action," said Jim Birrell in a statement, race director with Medalist Sports. "Not only will they be competing on extremely tough terrain, they'll be ripping through the course multiple times, testing their own strength and endurance."
Among the Coloradans to watch are Rally Cycling's Danny Pate of Colorado Springs, Trek-Segafredo's Gregory Daniel of Denver, Alex Howes from Golden, Peter Stetina and Taylor Phinney from Boulder.
Riders to watch for the overall title include: Americans Brent Bookwalter of BMC Racing, Rally Cycling's Evan Huffman, Daniel and Carpenter, a recent winner of the Cascade Classic in Oregon; and Colombians Uran, Acevedo and Daniel Jaramillo.
"This is an exciting, new approach to bike racing in the U.S," said Phinney, a Coloradan and pro rider with the Cannondale-Drapac team, "and I can't wait to once again be a part of pro racing in my home state."
Women's stages of the Colorado Classic will be held Aug. 10-11 in Colorado Springs and Breckenridge, respectively. Teams for that event were announced last month. (Separate women's criterium races featuring pro, amateur and collegiate riders will be held Aug. 11 and 12 in Denver).
Notable women to watch during the two days include two U.S. Olympic & World Championship medalists from women's team pursuit, Kelly Catlin of Rally Cycling and Jenn Valente of Sho-Air Twenty20. Sho-Air Twenty20's Allie Dragoo recently won the Cascade Cycling Classic and will be one to watch.
Team ISCorp is coming in with three big names including the Schneider sisters, Skylar and Samantha and cyclocross legend, Katie Compton.
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling is bringing a very strong squad including Ruth Winder, Tayler Wiles, Katie Hall, Lauren Hall, Janelle Cole and Rushlee Buchanan.
A young U.S. rider to watch is Emma White from Rally Cycling who has had a successful year to date.
Pro cyclists in the inaugural Colorado Classic men's race will cover 313 miles and endure more than 20,000 feet of intense, high-altitude climbing in the following four stages that showcase the state's incredible terrain:
Stage 1: Colorado Springs (Thursday, Aug. 10) Presented by UnitedHealthcare
Stage 2: Breckenridge (Friday, Aug. 11) Presented by Helix
Stage 3: Denver / Peak to Peak Hwy out-and-back: (Saturday, Aug. 12) Presented by Drink RiNo
Stage 4: Denver city circuit (Sunday, Aug. 13) Presented by Centura Health
The Colorado Classic race routes will test the field and create new and unique experiences for spectators over the race's four-day run, Aug. 10-13. Courses start and finish from the same location — as opposed to point-to-point races — and stages 1, 2 and 4 are "circuits" featuring multiple laps on challenging courses. As such, the Colorado Classic promises repeated opportunities for fans to see the riders up close over the course of the event.
The Colorado Classic is sanctioned by Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and designated as a 2.HC race, which is the highest category outside of World Tour races. The Colorado Classic is also part of the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour, which showcases the premier domestic road events in the United States.
The race will be televised on NBCSN and live streamed on NBC Sports Gold — NBC Sports Digital's live streaming direct-to-consumer subscription app. Paul Sherwen will call the action on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold, joined by analyst Christian Vande Velde and reporter Bob Roll.