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- The 2019 Colorado Classic starts on August 22 in Steamboat Springs.
- Launched in 2017, the four-day stage race this year became the sole women’s-only American stage race on the UCI calendar.
- Katie Hall will return to defend her title over two days of hard climbing and two urban circuits.
As one of the few UCI-registered stage races in the U.S., the Colorado Classic showcases a talented field with a combination of high-altitude climbing and fast-paced downtown circuits. A relatively new addition to the calendar, the race launched in 2017 as an attempt to rejuvenate American interest in cycling. And this year, it took a curious yet innovative step: It eliminated the men’s field entirely to become sole women’s-only UCI stage race in the Western Hemisphere.
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“By creating one great race instead of two average ones, we can shine a bright light on Colorado and pro women’s racing while affecting meaningful social change,” Ken Gart, chairman of race organizer RPM Events Group, said in December.
Sixteen teams will compete this year, including two Women’s World Tour outfits (BePink and Canyon–SRAM) and two squads from Mexico. Returning champion Katie Hall will ride for the U.S. national team, and the eventual winner will almost certainly come from the ranks of the climbers.
Here’s everything you need to know to follow the 2019 Colorado Classic.
The Colorado Classic begins on Thursday, August 22, in Steamboat Springs and concludes on Sunday, August 25, in Denver.
How to Watch
The race offers several easy options for following along. Each day’s stage will stream live online on the event website. Live coverage is also available on YouTube and Facebook Live. Marty MacDonald will provide English-language commentary with analysis from former pro riders Dani Rowe and Hannah Walker.
Altitude Sports, a Colorado cable channel, will host daily broadcasts. Using drones, mobile cameras, and POV footage, Altitude aims to give viewers an immersive, in-depth perspective on the action. Longtime commentator Brad Sohner and former pro Meredith Miller will handle the commentary.
Spanish-speaking fans can follow the race via GPSeries1, a service offering live coverage on its website, Facebook, and YouTube channels. Cycling expert Rebecca Reza will provide Spanish-language commentary.
The race this year covers four stages and combines spectator-friendly city circuits with Colorado’s signature high-altitude climbs. The opening stages feature hard ascents in the ski resort towns of Steamboat Springs and Beaver Creek. The peloton then heads to Golden and Denver for two days of challenging circuits.
“I think the first two stages will be the most decisive for the overall,” Hall said.
The queen stage comes on Friday and opens with a frenetic, flat circuit in Avon before heading out of town. Riders then face a 15-mile loop that includes the fiendishly steep Daybreak Ridge climb through Beaver Creek. With gradients tilting to 14 percent, the climb will be selective. Expect an elite group to survive and contest the finish back in Avon.
“The second stage will be where the race is won,” said Rally Cycling’s Abby Mickey. “The Daybreak Ridge climb is long and steep, and there’s not much road to bring back a split after the top.”
Though it’s tempting to dismiss the downtown circuits in the General Classification battle, the favorites will have to stay attentive. The Golden circuit features a steep kicker climb on historic Washington Street and will offer time bonuses at three intermediate sprints and the finish. The finale in Denver showcases the sprinters.
Riders to Watch
Hall will return to the Colorado Classic to defend her 2018 title. The talented climber typically races for Boels–Dolman in support of Olympic champion Anna van der Breggen, but here she will ride for the U.S. national team with another chance to chase her own results.
“I have learned to suffer and come back from it over and over,” Hall said of her first year racing in Europe. “I don’t think you know what you’re capable of until you really put yourself to the test.”
Hall will face a solid challenge from Italian all-rounder Tatiana Guderzo, who won a world title in 2009 and has garnered a lengthy list of stage race results throughout her career. Brodie Chapman, another talented climber, has proven her ability to ride well at altitude. Earlier this season, she won the Tour of the Gila, one of the most difficult climbing races in the U.S.
Watch for the Colorado-based team ALP Cycles Racing and Utah’s DNA Pro Cycling to shine on the high-altitude climbs. Though time trials are absent this year, U.S. national time trial champion Amber Neben is a strong climber and has numerous stage race wins to her name.
For the downtown circuits, track specialists Chloé Dygert Owen and Jennifer Valente are fresh off gold-medal performances at the Pan-American Games and give their Sho-Air Twenty20 team an edge in the Classic’s final stages. Dygert Owen has won multiple world titles on the track, and Valente has 12 national championship victories. The two women make a formidable team in the sprint finishes, and Valente won the final stage of last year’s Colorado Classic.
Rally Cycling’s young talent Emma White is the current U.S. national criterium champion, and her fast finish makes her a favorite on the Denver circuit. Finally, Hagens Berman–Supermint is also a talented criterium-racing team and will certainly be competitive on the circuit finishes.