Colorado Classic spectator’s guide for Stage 2 in Breckenridge
Editor’s note: Don’t miss a minute of the action when the Colorado Classic comes to Breckenridge! Follow live video, photos and race updates on our Colorado Classic live blog or at the Summit Daily News Facebook page.
The Colorado Classic ain’t your pappy’s pro cycling race.
Beginning yesterday and ending this Sunday in Denver, the four-day, four-stage race features an unorthodox “circuit” format officials hope is better for everyone involved: athletes, coaches, race fans, restaurants, even the town officials and police officers who have to shut down roads when these kinds of races roll through small mountain towns.
“It seems like it’s the way of the future,” said Taylor Shelden, a Breckenridge native and pro with Jelly Belly Cycling Team, when asked about the circuit format in a pre-race interview. “It’s fun to have those point-to-point long races, where you don’t have the same terrain over and over again, but with something like this Breckenridge stage it will be so hard and fast-paced that I don’t think anyone is going to be bored.”
While Shelden is busy doing the hard work — 10 laps for 64 miles and 7,320 vertical feet of climbing, all at chest-pounding altitude above 9,000 feet — thousands of race fans are expected to crowd the course through downtown Breckenridge. Along with the races (women at 11 a.m., men at 2 p.m.), the town is hosting VIP parties, Strider bike races, vendor villages and more to make the Classic’s debut season as much about the party as it is about the race. Here’s your guide to it all.
Who to watch
With more than a dozen Olympians, several national champions from across the globe and four UCI World Tour men’s teams (aka the guys who are always topping the podium at races like the Tour de France), the Colorado Classic is stacked. Your guide for whom to watch from the men’s and women’s fields:
Rigoberto Urán: The Cannondale-Drapac pro has been around for a while, but he made a global name for himself this summer when he took second place overall at the Tour de France. He brings a calm, cool demeanor to racing, according to team officials, and his second-place finish propelled the team to its best Tour de France finish ever.
Brent Bookwalter: If anyone is ready to attack Breck’s high-altitude course, it’s BMC Racing’s Bookwalter. He won the just-as-hard Arapahoe Basin mountain finish at the 2015 USA Pro Challenge, which led BMC to an overall team win for that race’s final season — not to mention a third-place overall individual finish. He was also part of the Tour de France team that helped Cadel Evans take the overall title in 2011.
Taylor Phinney: If you recognize Uran’s Cannondale-Drapac teammate, it’s because of the name. His father, Davis Phinney, is a legend in the cycling world with more than 300 career wins, including several with 7-Elev Cycling at the Colorado Classic’s forerunner, the Coors Classic in the ‘80s. Like his dad, Taylor Phinney is a dangerous sprinter, born and bred in the cycling Mecca of Boulder. He won a King of the Mountain stage jersey at this year’s Tour de France — his first-ever KOM jersey in his first-ever Tour.
Taylor Shelden: He might be just one of seven must-see Colorado men racing this August, but his ties to Breckenridge make him a threat. He took third overall at the Firecracker 50 this year, an annual mountain bike race held on local trails, and he did it with a two-month-old collarbone injury from the Tour of California in May.
Katie Compton: With more experience than just about anyone on a bike this weekend, male or female, the Colorado Springs cyclist has collected more than 100 UCI cyclocross wins in 30 years, including 23 World Cup titles. She also races mountain bikes and short track at the international level, not to mention four medals (two gold) at the 2004 Paralympic Games with her U.S. Paralympic Cycling Team partner.
Team Rwanda: Coached by cycling legend Jock Boyer, the first American to compete in the Tour de France, Team Rwanda makes its international UCI cycling debut at the Colorado Classic. And they come with a stacked squad, including Jean Claude Uwizeye, 23, who competed at the 2016 World Championships in Doha, Qatar, and Bonaventure Uwizeyimana, 24, the current Rwandan National Champion.
United Healthcare women’s team: On paper, this team is easily the most dangerous squad in the women’s race, featuring a who’s-who of top-level women from across the country: 24-year-old Ruth Winder, 28-year-old Tayler Wiles, 30-year-old Katie Hall. Those three alone boast 20-plus years of pro cycling experience and dozens of top-three stage finishes.
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Where to watch
The Colorado Classic’s circuit format should make catching the action easier than ever before. From 11 a.m. to about 5 p.m., riders will be racing nonstop on a loop from Main Street to Moonstone Road to Boreas Pass and back, with plenty of places to stop and watch the action in between. That means about five straight hours of race action, no matter where you are on the route.
Moonstone Road: If you want to party, this is the place. The Category 3 Moonstone incline (average grade of 8-10 percent) is home to the men’s King of the Mountain and women’s Queen of the Mountain sprint contests, but those aren’t the only reasons you go there. You also go for the costumes, the bullhorns, the cowbells and plenty of space to set up along the road. Use mountain bike trails like the Carter Park switchbacks and Moonstone Trail to move back and forth between the incline and Main Street.
Boreas Pass to Illinois Gulch: After topping out at Moonstone, both races still have another half-mile of climbing before they enter the tight, fast, screaming descent through neighborhood switchbacks below Baldy Mountain. If you live around here, simply step onto your patio to catch the riders as they cruise past every 20 minutes or so.
Main Street: Moonstone might be a party, but so is Main Street. The scene here will likely be busier with non-cycling distractions — look for vendor villages, VIP tents, kid’s activities and more between the Riverwalk Center lawn and Blue River Plaza — but it will also be more kid-friendly. Parking is sure to be a mess, so if you can, ditch the motor for a bike.
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