By John Meyer, The Denver Post
Women will have the cycling spotlight to themselves this week when the Colorado Classic stage race rolls through Steamboat Springs, Avon, Golden and Denver on a tour that will include 220 miles of riding and nearly 13,700 feet of climbing. From Aug. 22-25, 16 teams with more than 90 riders representing 20 countries will take part in a tour that has the potential to shape the rosters of Olympic teams next summer in Tokyo.
Stage racing with women competitors has had an uneven tradition in Colorado. The Coors Classic (1975-88) helped put cycling on the map in the U.S., and women participated in all but one of those years. Elite cycling returned to Colorado from 2011-2015 with the USA Pro Challenge, which had seven men’s stages all five years but included a women’s component only in the final year, and that was only three stages.
The Colorado Classic was created in 2017 with four men’s stages and two for the women. Last year both genders had four stages, and this year, the event becomes a women-only event. Race organizers say their goal is to put on the premier women’s race in the Western Hemisphere.
“We love men’s cycling,” said Ken Gart, chairman of RPM Events Group, which organizes the race. “We’re proud of the work our team has done the last couple of years, and I think we were very innovative, but our ability to impact men’s cycling really was very minimal. Our potential to impact women’s cycling around the globe, we think, is really dramatic.”
Races will be streamed live from start to finish on the Colorado Classic’s “Watch Now” page and syndicated through more than 20 partner and cycling media web sites. They will be simulcast on the Colorado Classic’s Facebook page and its YouTube channel. Altitude Sports will televise the stages live with replays shown in the evenings.
Here’s a quick overview of the stages:
Stage 1, Thursday, Steamboat Springs: One 53.2-mile lap with 6 miles on tricky gravel roads, 4,255 feet of climbing and some steep technical descents. 11:30 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Stage 2. Friday, Avon: 50.3 miles with 3,428 feet of climbing. There will be seven 5-mile laps on relatively flat roads in Avon, followed by a 15-mile lap that includes an insane, 2,000-foot, 14-percent climb up Village Road and Daybreak Ridge at Beaver Creek before descending through Bachelor Gulch back to Avon. 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Stage 3: Saturday, Golden: 63.7 miles (seven laps) with 4,639 feet of climbing through downtown Golden and the valley between North and South Table mountains. 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Stage 4, Sunday, Denver: 52.8 miles (eight laps) with 1,345 feet of climbing, starting and finishing at Coors Field with a route that encompasses Capitol Hill, 17th Avenue and City Park. 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.