Pro bicycle racing returns to its roots in Vail with the Colorado Classic

VAIL — Organizers of the Colorado Classic bicycle race today released preliminary details of the first two stages of this year’s event on courses that highlight Vail’s legacy as a centerpiece of professional racing that attracts the biggest names in the sport.

It’s a legacy that began with the Red Zinger Bicycle Classic in 1975 and has continued with events like the Coors Classic and the USA Pro Challenge.

The second annual Colorado Classic — a UCI-sanctioned 2.HC race (the highest category outside of World Tour races) featuring the sport’s top men and women professionals — will be held Aug. 16-19, 2018, with exciting courses that provide fan-friendly spectating opportunities. Stage 1 on Aug. 16 will be a circuit course through Vail Village and Stage 2 will put riders on the legendary mountain time trial course between Vail Village and the Vail Pass summit.

Details on Stages 3 and 4 are still being finalized and will be released later this spring.

“Professional bike racing is in the DNA of Vail. This year, we are proud to showcase two days in Vail, including the iconic Vail Pass time trial and the historic Vail town circuit,” said David Koff, CEO of RPM Events Group, the organization that puts on the race.

The Vail Town Council gave the return of pro bike racing to Vail the green light in December of 2017, and preparations to build upon the magic of pro cycling’s earlier races in the valley have been underway by the Vail Valley Foundation in partnership with RPM Events Group ever since. Vail town officials are sharing details with the community at the regularly scheduled Town Council meeting this week.

The Stage 1 circuit race offers cycling fans numerous opportunities to see the sport’s top men and women riders as they loop the course through the heart of Vail Village and pass between a series of recommended spectating areas. These preferred viewing spots along the course are designed to provide an ideal fan experience up close to the action. In addition to up-close views around the tunnel at the Lodge at Vail, Pepi’s Deck in Vail Village and Donovan Park in Matterhorn, a host of entertaining festivities are planned for the Start area at Solaris and the Finish line at the Vail Athletic Field near Golden Peak.

For Stage 2 on Friday, Aug. 17, the paved recreation path from East Vail to the 10,404-foot Vail Pass finish area is sure to be lined with the traditional throng of boisterous fans as racers ride the storied time trial course made famous by the likes of three-time Tour de France champion Greg LeMond, five-time Tour winner Bernard Hinault of France, Colorado’s Davis Phinney, the Coors Classic’s final champion, and Levi Leipheimer en route to his victory in the USA Pro Challenge in 2011.

The Colorado Classic is part of USA Cycling’s Pro Road Tour, which showcases the premier domestic road events in the United States. A total field of 16 men’s and 15 women’s teams ushered in the return of pro cycling to Colorado in 2017, setting the stage for a high-energy encore at the 2018 Colorado Classic.

Following Stage 2, the Colorado Classic moves to Denver for the final two stages of racing on Saturday, Aug. 18 and Sunday, Aug. 19 with start/ finish and criterium at Velorama Festival in the RiNo Art District.

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