On pins and wheels | PostIndependent.com

On pins and wheels

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
ASPEN, CO - AUGUST 22: Tom Danielson riding for Garmin-Sharp launches a solo attack to the summit of Independence Pass en route to winning stage three of the USA Pro Challenge from Gunnison to Aspen on August 22, 2012 in Aspen, Colorado. (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Tom Danielson
Getty Images | Getty Images North America

SNOWMASS — The countdown to Stage 1 of the USA Pro Challenge moves to launch today with the final prerace festivities for Monday’s Aspen/Snowmass Circuit Race.

Official team and rider introductions in Snowmass Village on Saturday night helped kick off the official race weekend for the third annual stage race across Colorado.

Teams have been staging in the upper parking lots at Snowmass Village, with mechanics tending to the state-of-the-art, road-racing bicycles.

The cyclists continued their training rides in the area, often leaving as a group like the RadioShack Leopard Trek team on Saturday morning just as members of Garmin-Sharp started to gather at their rolling headquarters.

Most team riders have been reported on the roads around Aspen and Snowmass Village, with many on parts of the circuit course as well as Independence Pass, the starting climb of Stage 2 on Tuesday.

More prerace festivities will be in full swing at Paepcke Park in downtown Aspen starting at 11 a.m. today.

The Sunday schedule kicks off with the New Belgium Spotlight Ride of the Day at 9:30 a.m. today. The ride is the classic road ride from Aspen to Ashcroft and back via the Castle Creek Road. The ride will start at the Hickory House.

Another fun community bike ride is set for 5 to 7 p.m. with the Bike Around Happy in Aspen.

And the Moonlight Bike Ride will take off at 7:30 p.m. from the Aspen Brewing Co.

In the meantime, the racing action will take over the Main Avenue section of the course for the USA Pro Challenge Stage 1 course. The Aspen Sprint Challenge, a benefit team-handicap sprint series, will start at 6 p.m. today. Handicap seeding rounds will be held this evening with the elimination rounds beginning.

The final elimination rounds in the Aspen Sprint Challenge will be Monday between laps of the Aspen/Snowmass Circuit Race.

The teams will compete in the elimination-bracket racing in a format similar to the Ajax Cup. The monies raised will go to the USA Cycling Development Foundation and the Aspen/Snowmass organizing group for the USA Pro Challenge.

Cyclists scheduled to race in tonight’s Aspen Sprint Challenge include Casey Puckett and Abbey Mickey for the Aspen Valley Ski Club Team. The ski racers also are bike racers, with Mickey recently completing a stellar collegiate career at the University of Colorado.

She also won the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic road race from Durango to Silverton earlier this year.

Former pro racer Jame Carney, a part-time Aspenite who helped design the course for the Aspen/Snowmass Circuit Race, will race along with a host of notable local riders like Tom Hayles, Chip Chilson and, of course, Super Dave.

Monday, of course, is race day for Stage 1.

The race will start at 1:05 p.m. Aspen time.

That’s 1:05 p.m. Aspen time.

The days’ festivities will begin with the opening of the cycling village at Paepcke Park at noon.

The field of 128 pro cyclists representing 16 teams will do two non-timed parade laps around the Aspen street course — Main Avenue to the West End, a return shot down West Smuggler past Triangle Park, around to Bleeker for a dash down to North Mill Street and a sharp turn back up to Main for the start/finish line at Main and Garmisch.

After the warmup laps, the cyclists will head out Highway 82 to Owl Creek Road, where they will turn left and climb up to Snowmass Village.

They’ll speed down Owl Creek to the Brush Creek Road for a high-speed descent to Medicine Bow Road for another spectacular, high-speed left-hand turn.

Then, it’s on to Upper Ranch Road. Down to and across Highway 82, and across the Roaring Fork River for the climb up the W/J hill.

Onto McLain Flats Road for the gradual climb back toward Aspen. They’ll climb up Cemetery Lane, turn left down Power Plant Road, climb up the other side and speed back through the West End, toward the maze of a finish including Smugger, Bleeker, Mill and Main.

The 20-mile course will be repeated three times.

Final awards after the race will be at 4 p.m. Monday on the main stage at Paepcke Park.

Another Bike Around Happy Hour will be held, starting at 5 p.m. in downtown Aspen.

Racing will take off again Tuesday with the start of Stage 2 in downtown Aspen.

The Tuesday morning start will be at 10:10 a.m.

Repeat — the Tuesday morning Stage 2 start will be at 10:10 a.m. from Main and Galena in downtown Aspen.

The vicious Stage 2 will start with a climb up Independence Pass before the riders head toward Buena Vista. Eventually, they’ll pass by South Park, climb Trout Pass and then Hoosier Pass for a finish in Summit County in downtown Breckenridge.


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