USA Pro Challenge

Written by on August 24, 2012 in CO Events - Comments Off on USA Pro Challenge

The USA Pro Challenge is America’s version of the Tour de France cycling race. The inaugural race took place in 2011, and Levi Leipheimer of Team RadioShack was awarded the Leader Jersey and crowned the first-ever champion of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge in front of a huge crowd in downtown Denver, Colorado.
The second Pro Challenge is underway now! Unlike the Tour de France, this race is only seven days long, however, they are incredibly difficult days since the bulk are spent going over 12,000 foot passes. According to Shawn Hunter, CEO, USA Pro Cycling Challenge, “The route travels 700 miles, with more than 40,000 feet of vertical climbing and with the Individual Time Trial in Denver, the race can come down to the final seconds.”

If you’ve never watched a pro cycling race before, there are actually four different races going on at the same time. Of course, the main prize is for the Leader (the yellow jersey), but others are racing for the King of the Mountain (red polka dot jersey), the Sprint leader (green jersey), and the Best Young Rider (blue diamond jersey). Each of these riders have different strategies for riding the race. The King of the Mountain riders want to be first through the high passes, while the sprint riders want to cross the sprint line (generally a point in the middle of the race) first and the Leader wants to cross the line with the leaders to retain the yellow jersey. All these conflicting strategies means there is plenty of jockeying for position throughout the race. Prizes are awarded daily to the stage winner and leaders in the categories as well as at the end of the race.

At speeds of up to 60+ miles per hour, the USA Pro Challenge can also be incredibly dangerous to the riders. Injuries, many severe, are not uncommon. And while it can be fun to watch in person, the riders are going so fast they are past you in the blink of an eye. We recommend catching one stage and then following the race on whatever television sports channel in your area is broadcasting the race. You’ll get a bird’s eye view from the helicopter following the riders, as well as ground reports from reporters in the field.

NOTE: The photo was taken at Almont on Stage 2 of the 2012 USA Pro Challenge.

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