Vuelta a Dillon fondo-style road race returns to Summit County on June 27 | SummitDaily.com

Vuelta a Dillon fondo-style road race returns to Summit County on June 27

Few races compare to a European-style fondo.

For decades, athletes from the cycling motherland have sworn by the laid-back, low-impact fondo format. It champions strategy over brute strength and stamina, rewarding cyclists for saving their energy until the exact moment when the clock starts ticking.

This weekend, for the fourth time ever and the first time under a new name, fondo racing comes to the High Country with the Vuelta a Dillon. Known in 2014 as the Vuelta a Keystone — and the Vuelta a Salida for two years before that — the race is the only true fondo to touch Summit County this summer.

Here's a crash course on fondo racing: Cyclists complete a lengthy course and are only timed on pre-determined sections, much like a lap split for track runners. Rather than reward the top overall time, the style combines the best times from each section to determine the winner. It's not only easier on cyclists, but also easier on roadside sanity — there's no need to shut down entire stretches of pavement for only a few minutes of cycling.

"These became popular in Europe years and years ago," says Rob Quinn, the Vuelta founder and a part-time Summit resident of 12 years. "You close maybe one or two sections, and time them separately to get your time and your place in the race. You don't have as much of an impact on everything around you."

The routes

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The 2015 Vuelta features three routes on the same course, split between 20 miles, 60 miles and 90 miles. Each route begins in the new host town of Dillon, with 20 milers winding east to Keystone and Montezuma road, while 60 and 90 milers head northwest through Dillon to the first timed section at Ute Pass. The climb is 5.4 miles, beginning at mile 21.4, before racers are rewarded with a brief rest stop at the county line.

Once distance racers complete Ute Pass, 90 milers split from the 60 milers to tackle Heeney Road around Green Mountain Reservoir for the next timed section. The 11.3-mile stretch is relatively flat throughout, giving racers plenty of leeway to make up time on competitors who tapped their reserves on the first climb.

Back in town, 20 milers begin the day with the only timed section of the race, an 8-mile climb up Montezuma Road. Once there, cyclists turn around for a fun and fast cruise past Keystone Gulch before looping around Keystone Ranch. Then, it's back to Dillon.

Long after the 20 milers have finished near Keystone, 90 and 60 milers cruise back through Silverthorne on their way to the final timed section on Montezuma Road. After tackling more than 50 miles apiece (plus another 20 miles for the 90 milers), cyclists will skip the trip around Keystone Ranch and, instead, coast leisurely along U.S. Highway 6 back to Dillon.

For Quinn, Dillon is a welcome addition to the Vuelta family. He looks forward to the race itself — over the past 30, years he's hosted races across the world, including the first-ever Mexican mountain bike race at Rosarita Beach in Tijuana — but he's just as excited for the post-event party, held in the heart of downtown Dillon with free music from Robert Randolph and The Family Band.

"This is a labor of love," Quinn says of the Vuelta. "It really is because I love putting these things together, and I think we've found our home in Dillon. Even though it's a lot harder putting it on without a giant corporate sponsor like Keystone, Dillon has taken us in, so to speak, and I know we have the same vision for the race."

2015 Prestige Imports Vuelta a Dillon

What: A fondo-style road race with three route options — 20 miles, 60 miles and 90 miles — spread across Summit County from Montezuma Road to Green Mountain Reservoir

When: Saturday, June 27

Where: Downtown Dillon starting line

Cost: Varies

For more information on the race, including registration info and course maps, see http://www.vueltafondo.com.