Update: USA Pro Challenge to begin in Steamboat, include two stages | SteamboatToday.com

Update: USA Pro Challenge to begin in Steamboat, include two stages

Riders in the 2013 USA Pro Challenge ride up Rabbit Ears Pass in Steamboat Springs. The race will return to Steamboat Springs in 2015 for a third time in its five-year history.

— Steamboat Springs is poised to play host to the USA Pro Challenge in 2015, the third time in the race's five years the city has played a part in one of the United States' premier cycling stage races.

Steamboat was announced Thursday morning to be the site of the race’s entire first stage and to the start of its second stage. The city was featured live on the 5 a.m. morning news show on KUSA 9News in Denver. The stages are being announced there and a press conference in Steamboat to again announce all of the stages will follow.

At the event Thursday at Howelsen Hill, Steamboat Olympians as well as city and county officials will be in attendance, and there will be a free public breakfast. Residents are encouraged to bring signs to show the spirit of Steamboat.

"I'm very excited to hear that," said David Scully, president of the Bike Town USA organization in Steamboat.

He said Wednesday afternoon that the news was fresh to his ears, but very welcome news.

"It's fantastic," he said. "It's great for the community to get the Steamboat name out internationally, which is part of the goal for Bike Town USA."

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The race is set for Aug. 17 to 23.

The announcement will include USA Pro Challenge CEO Shawn Hunter and Tom Danielson, a professional cyclist who's raced in all four USA Pro Challenges and finished on the podium twice.

It also will have a local flair, featuring local Olympians Caroline Lalive Carmichael and Justin Reiter.

Breckenridge Mayor John Warner also is listed on the program lineup, signaling good news for the Summit County city.

The Pro Challenge's first stop in Steamboat Springs, in 2011, coincided with the town's efforts to adopt the moniker "Bike Town USA," and the huge crowds that came out for the event were held up as evidence of what biking could do for Steamboat.

Lincoln Avenue was clogged that year as thousands witnessed a thrilling sprint finish to one stage and, a day later, the start to another stage. More people gathered on Rabbit Ears Pass on the second day, with many camping the night before and welcoming riders to the summit with a party atmosphere.

The race skipped Steamboat in 2012, opting for a tour through the state's southern reaches.

In 2013, however, it came back to the northwest corner of the state, riding from the east over Rabbit Ears Pass and offering a different kind of thrill for cycling fans. As 2011 featured a perfect cycling sprint, 2013 featured a desperate breakaway by German cycling legend Jens Voigt. He rode most of the day in a breakaway group, then rode over Rabbit Ears by himself, only to be caught on the outskirts of the city, 3 kilometers from the downtown Steamboat finish line.

The next day again featured a stage in Steamboat, this time leaving town to the south.

The race also went farther south and missed Steamboat in 2014.

Typically, the year's route is not announced with the stages, so just which challenges riders will face in Routt County may not be clear for several more months.

The actual riders who participate usually aren't announced until the weeks before the race.

Breckenridge, included in each version of the race, has been coupled in stages with Steamboat in each of this city's two previous hosting stints, so another connection seems likely.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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