Women’s race has locals excited | SteamboatToday.com

Women’s race has locals excited

— For Amy Charity, maybe it will mean holding doors or offering to drive the team van, getting coffee or bringing in extra doughnuts to the office in the morning.

Okay, professional cycling teams probably don’t pass doughnuts around an office at 9 a.m. In any case, Charity, a pro rider from Steamboat Springs, has found something she wants, and she’s hoping her season works out so that she can have it.

The USA Pro Challenge made local headlines earlier this winter when it announced it would run its first two stages in Steamboat Springs in August.

It had another announcement Tuesday morning: This year’s race will include, for the first time, a three-stage women’s event.

“I heard rumors starting last year, so I was hopeful, but also a little skeptical they would pull it off,” Charity said. “When I heard it was really happening, I was ecstatic. It’s huge. It shows we’re making progress with women’s cycling and that we’re definitely going in the right direction.”

Pro Challenge CEO Shawn Hunter made the race official Wednesday morning in Breckenridge, which will play host to the first stage of the women’s event, a time trial on Aug. 21. That will be the same as the fifth stage for the men, and both men and women will race the time trial.

Men and women will race Aug. 22 from Loveland to Fort Collins and Aug. 23, in the final stage, from Golden to Denver. Both men and women will race the same course, but in separate races.

“We are very excited to support women’s cycling in the U.S. and bring more of an awareness to these incredible athletes on a large stage in Colorado with world-class crowds,” Hunter said in a press release. “The women bring an entirely new dynamic to our race, and we are confident the fierce skills of these riders will impress and inspire all of our passionate fans.”

Hunter said he expects the top women’s teams in the country and the world to participate, the top 16 in the Union Cycliste Internationale.

That means Charity’s squad, Optum Pro Cycling, which she joined in January, will be there. She said the team of 10 will be winnowed down to six for the event. The final cut will be based on a stack of factors, including which riders are best suited to tackle that terrain, what other races riders have done recently and how how each rider’s season is going.

That decision will come down to the team’s racing director, who may be in line to receive a gift basket courtesy of Amy Charity any day now.

“I obviously would love to race it,” she said. “That would be the ultimate for me, to race in my state and do a proper stage race alongside the men’s race. That would be great.”

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

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