Mihkel Raim, (Israel Cycling Academy) second from left, edges out Travis McCabe (UnitedHealthCare), and other racers, to win Stage 4 of the Colorado Classic bike race as Marco Canola (Nippo-Vini Fantini), left, throws up his hands in protest on August 13, 2017 in Denver. (Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post)
The pro bike race born last year today announced details of a four-stage lineup that will unfold Aug.16-19.
The Vail-to-downtown-Denver race has added a stage that local cyclists will recognize when two of the Front Range’s most popular rides are combined.
The tour will begin with men’s and women’s circuit races in Vail on Aug. 16, followed the next day by time trials from Vail to Vail Pass. While the men are climbing Front Range mountains on Day 3, the women will have a downtown Denver. Both genders will conclude Sunday with downtown Denver circuit races.
New to this year’s Colorado Classic: The 100-mile men’s Stage 3 race on Aug. 18 will begin downtown, then take riders out 32nd Avenue to climb Lookout Mountain, followed by a descent on U.S. 40 and through Red Rocks Park to Morrison, a highly popular weekend ride for recreational riders.
The course will then take the pros up Colorado 74 to Evergreen and over to Upper Deer Creek, including the notorious High Grade road, which is another challenge many avid recreational cyclists enjoy tackling. Then the course heads back to Denver via Colorado 74, Red Rocks, Alameda Parkway and Union Boulevard in Lakewood to 32nd for the dash back downtown.
Last year, the race began in Colorado Springs and went to Breckenridge for Day 2 before weekend races in Denver.
Over the four days, the men will cover more than 245 miles with 15,486 feet of climbing. The women will ride 80 miles, climbing 4,818 feet.
Aug. 16: Vail circuit races on an 8.8 mile course, men doing eight laps (4,390 feet of climbing) and women doing four (2,567 feet).
Aug. 17: Vail time trial to Vail Pass, both genders riding 9.87 miles while climbing 1,574 feet.
Aug. 18: Men ride 100 miles over Lookout Mountain and Upper Deer Creek with 8,133 feet of climbing. The women will ride a criterium for 50 minutes plus five laps in RiNo.
Aug. 19: Both genders ride a Denver circuit starting and finishing at the Velorama Festival in RiNo, riding 17th Avenue out to City Park and coming through RiNo. The men will ride eight laps (71.2 miles) and the women will ride four laps.
The pairing of the Colorado Classic and Velorama was announced in 2017 as a new way to keep cycling races rolling. The lively festival with its music, beer, games and more will take over Denver’s RiNo neighborhood Aug. 17-19, and organizers hope that it will create a new economic model for an older-style race.
Just after the inaugural event in 2017, race chairman Ken Gart was making plans for 2018, citing many successes — as well as places he saw room to improve.
“The race got a huge amount of accolades,” he told The Post in 2017. “We said we were going to do it differently for an American audience. I think point-to-point racing is not as interesting for an American audience and we proved that because we did circuits.”
As for the challenges, most were with the bumpy start for the accompanying festival.
“I got there on Friday night and we had really, really long beer lines. We had port-a-potty problems. We had logistical challenges that the team responded to, too — certainly not perfectly but the beer lines and the restroom situation was better on Saturday than it was on Friday,” he told The Post in that same interview.
“Most importantly, we can fix all those problems easily for next year,” he added.
And fix them they did. Velorama is ready to debut big changes in 2018 including the layout, ticketing and lineup.