A stacked field of the world’s top women road cyclists will tackle some of Colorado’s most challenging terrain starting Thursday at the Colorado Classic presented by VF Corporation.
The only UCI 2.1 women’s-only stage race in the Western Hemisphere will feature the strongest and fittest bike racers and be broadcast live for free for four consecutive days.
The event enables competitors to battle for UCI points for world rankings and potential Tokyo 2020 Olympic spots.
Riders will push themselves through Steamboat Springs, Avon and Golden before descending on Denver for the grand finale circuit through downtown.
Over the four days, riders will cover a total of 220 miles and climb 13,667 feet in the most grueling women’s course in the event’s history.
More than 90 riders are expected to compete in the 2019 race, including 2018 Colorado Classic overall champion Katie Hall, who will be racing with and mentoring the U.S. National Team comprised of ace collegiate racers and 2017 Colorado Classic overall champion Sara Poidevin of top-25 UCI team Rally UHC Cycling.
The event’s prize purse has topped $75,000. Racers will also have the opportunity to earn bonus cash laps (primes) during every stage of the race, each amounting to at least $1,000 per winner.
The 2019 Colorado Classic kicks off at an altitude of nearly 7,000 feet near the base of Steamboat Springs Resort.
Riders launch into the 54-mile lollipop course from the Meadows parking lot at 11:30 a.m., climbing steadily uphill on Colorado State Hwy 131 to the sprint Bonus Cash and first Queen of the Mountain (QOM) section at Oak Creek.
From here, speeds increase with a series of wild, technical descents and short climbs on smaller roads to a second QOM through six miles of treacherous gravel at Big Valley Ranch.
The stage wraps up with what’s sure to be breakneck speeds, retracing the highway section and to the finish line for a total of 54.2 miles and 4,255 feet of climbing.
Best viewing and Bike and Lifestyle Expo: the Meadows lot.
The air gets thinner still for the Queen Stage.
Starting at 1 p.m. at nearly 7,500 feet in Avon’s Nottingham Park, riders kick into a high-speed, 5-mile loop around town, completing seven laps and two sprint sections.
Then they turn their wheels uphill for the final 15-mile lap, climbing nearly 2,000 vertical feet up a 14% gradient for a QOM at Beaver Creek’s Daybreak Ridge before descending through Bachelor Gulch and back to Nottingham Park.
The stage will cover 50.3 miles, including 3,428 feet of climbing.
Expo: Nottingham Park.
Best viewing: Avon Road at Benchmark and Highway 6, Daybreak Ridge Road in Beaver Creek (bike and foot access only).
Although this sprinter’s stage takes riders on a lap course through the historic streets of downtown Golden and around the outskirts of town between North Table and South Table mountains, it could be the climbers who prevail.
Starting at 11:30 a.m. from under the arch on Washington Ave., riders complete seven laps, including three sprints and one QOM, covering a total of 63.7 miles and climbing 4,639 feet.
Expo: Parfet Park.
Best viewing: Washington Ave., New Terrain Brewery.
Firing through the streets of downtown Denver, the final stage favors the sprinters.
Starting and finishing on Blake Street in front of Coors Field, racers launch off of the line at 1:30 p.m. and charge toward Capitol Hill, up and down East 17th Avenue and around City Park.
They will complete eight laps, including three sprint sections for a total of 52.8 miles and 1,345 feet of climbing.
Expo: Blake and Market.
Best viewing: Blake and 21st streets, restaurants and bars on 17th Avenue and City Park.
There will be free, family friendly events throughout the race, including a running race, the Colorado Classic 5K Presented by Altra in Golden on Aug. 24 and Open Streets in Denver on Aug. 25.
Those who can’t make it out to watch live can watch live streaming coverage from start to finish as well as live broadcasts on Altitude Sports & Entertainment. Follow statistics and race progress by downloading Tour Tracker.
Content provided by Colorado Classic.