Opening stage of Colorado Classic in Steamboat Springs filled with challenging climbs
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — The opening day of the Colorado Classic will test some of the top professional women cyclists with a challenging 54.2-mile course that includes two humbling hill climbs, several kilometers of biking on dirt roads and the type of competition that will push each rider to her limits.
“We are thrilled about the course,” said race director Jim Birrell. “The fact that we have included about 10-kilometers of dirt road really shows the diversity of, not only the terrain in Steamboat Springs, but also the athleticism these ladies who have to be able to ride both dirt and paved roads.”
The course for the August event, which is being presented by Smartwool, is a loop that takes riders past Oak Creek before returning to the base of Steamboat Resort using a number of Routt County roads. The VF Corporation, which owns Smartwool, is a title sponsor of the four-stage race, which starts in Steamboat on Aug. 22, and will also host stages in Avon on Aug. 23 and Golden on Aug. 24 before finishing in Denver on Aug. 25.
The Steamboat stage will start and finish at 6,695 feet in the Meadows Parking Lot near the base of Steamboat Resort. Racers will leave the start line at 11:30 a.m. and head south along Routt County Road 14, cutting across Colorado Highway 131 before continuing on C.R. 14 past Stagecoach Reservoir and back to Colo. 131 on the other side of Oak Creek.
Riders will then pass back through Oak Creek on C.R. 27 to C.R. 33. At that point, the riders will be tested on the dirt surface of C.R. 43 and C.R. 41 before finding the paved surface once again on C.R. 35. From there, the cyclists will follow C.R. 14 back to the start-finish area.
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The race’s technical director Jeff Corbett said riders will gain more than 4,000 feet of elevation along the race route. He said the riders will be challenged by two big climbs including the first coming along C.R. 27 out of Oak Creek and the second between C.R. 33 and Whitewood Drive.
“Obviously, those are the key features,” Corbett said of the climbs. “But there is a lot of other just rolling terrain, so I think the cumulative effect of the two big hills, plus all the little ones, is going to wear on the girls.”
Race organizers said the circuit routes for the women-only pro road race will have something for every racer and every fan including high–altitude “Queen of the Mountain” prizes — two on the Steamboat circuit alone — breakneck sprints, gravel and tight, technical street racing. The course will cover a total of 220 miles, with 13,667 feet of climbing through Colorado’s scenic terrain.
This is the third year for the Colorado Classic, but it will be the event’s first visit to Steamboat. The town last hosted the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in 2015.
“We have always had great experiences in bringing pro bike racing to Steamboat,” Birrell said. “It was the host of the overall start one year for the USA Pro Challenge, and the citizens of Steamboat really rally behind their community and support the events that come there.”
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