Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Two-Wheeled Diversion

The 2013 USA Pro Challenge Host Cities

Time for one of my diversions into another of my favorite sports, pro cycling.  Yes, I know, its been a bad offseason for cycling with Lance Armstrong admitting what many people have known for a while.  He doped.  The sport shouldn't be seen from the perspective of its biggest failures though.  There's still plenty to enjoy and the newest generation coming into the sport, led by riders like Teejay Van Garderen, Andrew Talansky, and Peter Sagan, seem to understand that things have to change and are doing things the right way.

Right now is one of the best times to enjoy cycling with two big races going on this week.  The 2nd biggest stage race of the year, the Giro d' Italia, is into its second week in Italy.  In recent years the strategy in this race has made it less predictable than the Tour de France.  Unfortunately it appears that Boulder-based Garmin-SHARP will not be able to repeat their 2012 Giro win as defending champion Canadian Ryder Hesjedal had a rough time over the last few days and has lost significant time.  Also going on this week is the Tour of California which started in San Diego on Sunday and will end next Sunday in the Bay Area.  One of the most brutal stages I've ever seen happened yesterday as the stage finished on the Cat 1 tramway climb outside of Palm Springs, which set a record high at 114 degrees yesterday!  BMC's Teejay Van Garderen appears to be the favorite in the early days.

Both of these races are televised live each day in the States.
  • Giro d' Italia - beIn Sports, 7:30am MDT with the last two hours of the stage live (slightly different schedules on the weekend depending on their soccer and motorcycle coverage) - Channel 411 on Denver Comcast
  • Tour of California - NBC Sports Channel, 3pm MDT with the last two hours of the stage live (Sunday the stage will start on NBC then switch to NBC Sports) - Channel 689 on Denver Comcast
Of course this is warm up for the big race of the year, the Tour de France in July, which will be carried live on NBC Sports.  Then the 3rd USA Pro Challenge will take place here in Colorado in August, from the 19th-25th.  My favorite race, because its local, and NBC Sports will have the same sort of coverage they've had in the past, similar to what they're doing for the Tour of California.  Here's a quick breakdown of the stages:
  • Stage 1 - Aspen Circuit Race - 3 laps of a 22 mile circuit around Aspen/Snowmass, this is the first time a circuit stage has been used in the USA Pro Challenge.
  • Stage 2 - Aspen to Breckenridge - The annual summit of 12,000 Independence Pass, quickly becoming the signature of the race, happens early in the stage then the riders will be on to new roads as they swing through Buena Vista before heading North to Breckenridge.
  • Stage 3 - Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs - Almost the exact reverse of stage 5 in 2011, the riders will hit Rabbit Ears Pass right before the finish instead of right after the start.
  • Stage 4 - Steamboat Springs to Beaver Creek - Again, almost the revers of Stage 4 in 2011.  We had a chance to go to Steamboat Springs for both the Stage 4 finish and Stage 5 start in 2011 and it was awesome.  If you're interested in seeing this sport in person its a great way to see both ends of a stage in one place.
  • Stage 5 - Vail Time Trial - The Coors Classic time trial returns to the race after being skipped in 2012.
  • Stage 6 - Loveland to Fort Collins - The race's first foray to the Northern part of the Front range.  Going up Big Thompson Canyon to Estes Park and back down, this would be the stage I'd like to watch if I could get up to Estes in time that morning.  Family commitments will prevent me from seeing it in person this year, so I hope its an successful stage and they'll return.
  • Stage 7 - Denver Circuit Race - Using much of the same course as they did in 2012 for the Denver Time Trial, the 9.4 mile circuit will take them through Writer Square and City Park before starting and finishing as always in front of the Capitol at Civic Center Park.
So that's the rundown of cycling right now.  As always the best local coverage of pro cycling can be forund over at Pedal Dancer.

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