Breckenridge will host both the Stage 2 finish and Stage 3 start of the seven-day USA Pro Challenge bike race in August 2013, race organizers announced Wednesday.
"It's very exciting," Breckenridge Town Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe said. "It's a great early Christmas present for the town of Breckenridge."
The race, which drew millions of spectators in its first two years, will start its third year in Aspen, with teams touring through Breckenridge to Steamboat Springs, Beaver Creek, Vail and Loveland-Fort Collins before heading into Denver for the Stage 7 finish.
"Riders now know there is no race in America like the USA Pro Challenge, and these host cities help ensure cycling's world stage returns to Colorado for seven days of grueling competition," Pro Challenge CEO and co-chairman Shawn Hunter stated in a release announcing the host cities. "Each of these communities will be on an international stage as we partner with them to ensure the USA Pro Challenge takes its place as America's greatest race."
The race has earned a reputation for being one of the most challenging, sending teams up to two miles in elevation as it crosses the Colorado Rockies.
For Breckenridge, the Pro Challenge has become a headline event of the summer season, continuing to draw spectators numbering in the tens of thousands.
This year, hosting a start and a finish, riders will spend the night in Breckenridge and the town will organize both evening and morning festivities around the event.
Breck officials said the town requested a back-to-back stage start and finish in this year's bid. Breckenridge hosted a weekend stage finish two years ago during the inaugural race and a stage start last summer.
"I think we've brought out as many or more people for our first-year finish and last year's start than almost any other town," Wolfe said. "And our proximity to the Front Range makes us a good location to kind of connect this race together."
A number of criteria are considered in selecting host cities, including lodging, volunteer recruitment, marketing, local tourism and the capability to host the athletes and promote the state, race organizers stated in Wednesday's release.
"The USA Pro Challenge has created an entirely new audience for our state," Gov. John Hickenlooper stated in the release. "Not only is it the best American competition, it's essentially a week-long advertisement for our state with 128 of the best cyclists in the world acting as tour guides."
Breck also approaches the race as a long-term event marketing investment.
Details regarding the exact locations of starting and finish lines as well as the exact route of the 2013 race will be announced in the spring, according to the statement.
All of the cities and towns selected for next year are returning hosts with the exception of Loveland and Fort Collins.
Next year's race will run from Aug. 19-25 and is again expected to draw upwards of a million spectators to the sidelines.