Durango will find itself in the international spotlight next August on the starting line of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
“It’s such a great city and has such a great heritage,” said Stacie Lange, spokeswoman for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. “It’s definitely a great place to start this race.”
The inaugural race last summer drew more than 1 million live spectators and television viewers in 161 countries and territories, race organizers said. It was carried on national television on NBC and the Versus cable channel.
The 135-rider field included some of the world’s top road cyclists. Levi Leipheimer of Team RadioShack won the race.
The exact route has not yet been decided, but the first stage on Aug. 20 will start in Durango and end in Telluride. The second stage will begin in Montrose. The race will finish in Denver on Aug. 26 with an individual time trial.
Ned Overend, a member of the United States Bicycling Hall of Fame, was thrilled about the news.
“It’ll showcase the mountains in this whole part of Colorado, which a lot of people don’t know about,” Overend said. “It’ll be great for cycling here. It’ll be good for tourism.”
The closest that the 2011 route came to the Four Corners was Crested Butte and Gunnison.
With two possible routes between Durango and Telluride, other area towns such as Mancos, Dolores and Silverton will have to wait to see if the race will pass through. Lange said the final route will not be announced until next spring.
Race organizers noted that Durango puts on the annual Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, an event with 4,000 riders, and the town is home to more professional cyclists, national champions and Olympians per capita than any other American city.
“By incorporating iconic cycling cities like Boulder and Durango in our second-year race, we will further build the virtual postcard for the state of Colorado that we established in our inaugural year,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge, in a news release...
2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge stages
Stage 1, Aug. 20: Durango to Telluride
Stage 2, Aug. 21: Montrose to Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte
Stage 3, Aug. 22: Gunnison to Aspen
Stage 4, Aug. 23: Aspen to Beaver Creek/Vail Valley
Stage 5, Aug. 24: Breckenridge to Colorado Springs
Stage 6, Aug. 25: Golden to Boulder
Stage 7 (individual time trial), Aug. 26: Denver
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Source: USA Pro Cycling Challenge