Fans will have two new ways to become a part of the USA Pro Challenge this year, as the professional cycling stage race continues to grow with the introduction of the 9K Sprint Challenge run and the Pro Challenge Experience presented by UnitedHealthcare, a mass-participation bike ride. Scheduled in the days leading up to and during the pro race, the ride will take place Sunday, Aug. 11, in Fort Collins and the 9K will hit the streets of Downtown Denver on Sunday, Aug. 25.
“By growing the Pro Challenge to include these amateur events the whole family can get involved,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Challenge. “The 9K Sprint Challenge and the Pro Challenge Experience give fans the opportunity to get in on the action and race on part of the course the professional athletes will utilize just days or hours later during the Pro Challenge.”
As a new addition to the Pro Challenge, on Sunday, Aug. 25, local Coloradans and visitors will have the opportunity to participate in a 9K run in Downtown Denver utilizing part of the 9.4-mile circuit the professional cyclists will descend upon just hours later for the heart-pounding conclusion of the race. The 9K Sprint Challenge is open to people of all ages and families are encouraged to run together, then stay to watch the pros complete eight laps around the city where one rider will be named champion of the 2013 USA Pro Challenge. Registration is $35 and can be done online at www.9ksprint.com or in person the day of the race for $45.
As is traditional in running races, prizes will be awarded for the fastest man and woman; however, as this run is associated with one of the biggest American professional cycling races, there also will be a prize for best costume. Taking a note from the cheering fans lining the course of professional cycling races from Independence Pass to Alpe d’Huez, costumes are encouraged at the 9K Sprint Challenge, and a third prize will be awarded for the Best Cycling Fanatic Costume. All three winners will receive two passes to enjoy the final stage of the 2013 USA Pro Challenge from the hospitality tent, as well as the opportunity to appear on stage during the final awards presentation that day.
For the fans that prefer to ride, on Sunday Aug. 11, the Pro Challenge Experience presented by UnitedHealthcare will give recreational and competitive cyclists the opportunity to challenge themselves against some of the most difficult and scenic terrain in the world. Starting in Fort Collins and utilizing portions of the USA Pro Challenge Stage 6 route, the Pro Challenge Experience will give people the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to ride like a pro. Featuring three distances of 30, 52 and 108 miles, this historic bike ride is open to cyclists of all ages.
After departing from the famed New Belgium Brewery, the course tours the vast and breathtaking vistas of the North Larimer County region via tranquil county roads. The 108-mile challenge includes more than 30 miles of roadie friendly gravel and clay roads, plus an epic ascent from the Front Range into the remote and awe-inspiring Red Feather Lakes region. The rider with the fastest time up the Red Feather climb will receive a spot to ride before the pros in the Amateur Time Trial in Vail on August 23, as well as two passes to the hospitality tent. The more forgiving 52 and 30 mile courses are no less scenic and all finish back at New Belgium for a great party.
The cost to participate in the Pro Challenge Experience varies by distance and includes an exclusive commemorative shirt. Proceeds from the ride benefit the Noco Rebuilding Network, a local charity supporting the rebuilding efforts of those affected by natural disasters in Northern Colorado. Spots for the ride are limited and can be reserved at www.prochallengeexperience.com
“We’re investing in the future of the sport and we want people to not only have the opportunity to witness the action of the USA Pro Challenge, but also experience it for themselves,” added Hunter. “We’re looking forward to bringing these and other events, in association with the Pro Challenge, to our fans for years to come.”
The USA Pro Challenge, one of the world’s most prestigious professional cycling races, will take place Aug. 19-25. The 600-mile route starts in Aspen/Snowmass and will take the riders and spectators through eight official host cities, as well as many others on the way to the exhilarating circuit finish in Downtown Denver. The largest spectator event in the history of the state, the USA Pro Challenge continues to set records in professional cycling history by taking the riders to unprecedented elevations. In 2012, with a lead change nearly every day, one of the closest professional races in U.S. history came down to the final moments of the Individual Time Trial in Denver, and this year’s route promises to bring just as much drama.