Every August since 2011, the USA Pro Challenge has pushed the best riders to their limit in high-altitude Colorado. Near the end of the season, the race is an opportunity for Continental Pro Teams to mix it up with the top World Tour teams – including BMC Racing, Cannondale-Garmin, Trek Factory Racing and Tinkoff-Saxo – on the heels of the Tour de France. Reigning two-time champion and local hero Tejay van Garderen is sitting out this year, opening the door for another rider to keep the American GC win-streak alive.
Here are the top segments and climbs to watch and riders to follow at the 2015 USA Pro Challenge:
The Keystone to A-Basin climb comes at the end of stage two and is the first and only hilltop finish in this year’s race. Any rider with GC ambitions will want to be in the lead group here.
Independence Pass East is a deceptively long climb that will take the riders to the highest point of the 2015 race, at over 12,000 feet. The 15.7 mile climb is steady until the 11 mile mark, where the first of three switchbacks indicate the final steep pitches to the summit. Leading this climb won’t mean a day’s work is done, as riders will have to tackle a little under 20 miles of high speed descending before the finish in Aspen.
The True Pillars to Lookout Mountain climb is likely to be insignificant on the final day, since it appears so early in the stage, but it has nonetheless been a fan-favorite in years past because of its close proximity to the Boulder-Denver area. Proof: The climb has been attempted 65,951 times on Strava by more than 9,000 riders!
Strava Pros to follow at the 2015 USA Pro Challenge:
Danny Summerhill— Boulder local, knows many of these roads by heart.
Keegan Swirbul— Recently crowned American u23 National Champion.
Logan Owen— Fresh out of the Tour of Utah, where he won stage 3 in a highly contested field sprint.
Peter Stetina— Back racing after a horrific crash earlier this year at Vuelta al País Vasco.
Ted King— Finishing out his last year as a professional for the Cannondale-Garmin team.
Photos from Photo Sport International