USA Pro Challenge Stage 2 preview: Steamboat Springs to A-Basin (video)
Special to the Daily
USA Pro Challenge Stage 2 — Steamboat Springs to Arapahoe Basin
Start time: 10:05 a.m.
Finish: 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
What to watch: Rabbit Ears Pass climb, Keystone to A-Basin final ascent
Who to watch: Janier Acevedo, Davide Formolo, Julian Arredondo, Kiel Reijnen, Team Cannondale-Garmin
2014 Stage 2 winner: Robin Carpenter
Fun fact: A-Basin will host a two-day festival surrounding the finish, with concerts, food tents and more
Live TV coverage: 2 p.m. on NBC Universal Sports
Stage 2 has become one of the most talked-about routes in this year’s USA Pro Challenge because of two jaw-dropping Category 2 climbs at the start and finish.
Starting out from Steamboat Springs, the route ascends 2,396 feet over a mere 12 miles to the summit of Rabbit Ears Pass. This first King of the Mountain challenge will be a wake-up call for riders still recovering from the difficult Stage 1 circuit race, and leaders will likely separate from the peloton by the top of the pass.
The long haul to Ute Pass
Following this first climb comes a downhill section and flatland sprint to Kremmling. This 37-mile stretch will either see leaders returning to the pack or building their lead.
Just when cyclists start to catch their breath, Stage 2 slaps them back into reality with KOM No. 2: a long, continuous climb up Ute Pass. This second climb will be tamer than the first, with 2,257 vertical feet spread out over 25 miles — more than double the Rabbit Ears ascent — but sets the stage for a staggering 31 miles before the finish line.
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Climb to A-Basin
After a short sprint section through Silverthorne and Dillon, riders enter a final KOM climb that will truly separate the boys from the men: five miles and 1,616 vertical feet between Keystone and Arapahoe Basin. The climb, rated as a Category 2, offers a stunning chase to the finish line in true European Alps fashion. It’s the only summit finish of the race.
A brutal Stage 2
This route will come down to sheer mountain strength, rather than a traditional cycling strategy that will be likely make or break winners in other stages. With a whopping three KOM’s, the riders who excel at climbing will likely maintain the lead during the flat sprint sections to battle for the win.
However, the difficult final climb to A-Basin could be devastating for many, so don’t be surprised to see a few lead changes and surprising bursts in this final pass. Watch for strong climbers like Julian Arredondo, Janier Acevedo and Davide Formolo to excel in this stage. Formolo won a very difficult mountain stage at this year’s Tour of Italy, and Arredondo was the 2014 Tour of Italy KOM overall champ. The lesser-known Acevedo could surprise — he placed fifth in 2014 Pro Challenge KOM standings.
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