The Colorado Classic is a four-day stage race set to take place in Denver and Vail August 16-19. Sanctioned by Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) and designated as a 2.HC race on the men’s side, the Colorado Classic is also part of the USA Cycling Pro Road Tour for both men and women. In only its second year, the 2018 event has drawn an impressive collection of talent including four UCI World Tour teams, six UCI Professional Continental squads, five continental teams, and national Team Rwanda Cycling on the men’s side, as well as four UCI registered women’s teams.
The 2017 version featured four days of cycling for the men and two days for the women with stages in Denver, Breckenridge, and Colorado Springs. This year’s schedule will include four days of riding for both men and women.
Racing begins at 10:00 am on August 16 at the Mountain Plaza in Vail (8,150 feet above sea level). This first stage is a circuit race on a technically challenging 8.8-mile loop, similar to those found in European races. The men will complete eight laps and the women will race four laps.
Day two features a time-trial on the Vail Pass course that has been written into history by Tejay van Garderen, Levi Leipheimer, and Bernard Hinault. The 9.87-mile stage climbs 1,574 feet from the start at Mountain Plaza to a finish near the top of Vail Pass. Racing begins at 10 a.m. for women and 12:30 p.m. for men.
When the teams head to Denver for the third day of action on Saturday, August 18, the men and women will tackle separate challenges. The men will set out from Denver’s RiNo Art District at 10:00 am on a 100-mile Queen’s Stage. This course includes 8,133 feet of climbing and takes racers west past Coors Field to Golden, over Lookout Mountain for a KOM, through iconic Red Rocks Park and on to Evergreen, where they hit the highpoint KOM at Cragmont Drive, and a final KOM through Indian Hills before making their way over Dinosaur Ridge for a furious sprint from Wheat Ridge High School to the finish at Velorama. Starting at 12:30 p.m., the women will race an exciting timed criterium (50 minutes plus five laps) around the activity-filled Velorama Festival.
The final day of events will put Denver on display as cyclists lap a 9.1-mile circuit course from the Velorama Festival in RiNo to City Park via 17th Ave. The women begin at 10 a.m. for a four-lap circuit followed by the men’s eight-lap finale at 12:15 p.m.
The Colorado Classic offers fun for the whole family beyond the excitement of the professional races. A 57-mile gravel fondo will start and finish at Mountain Plaza (Vail, CO) on August 17. The route is comprised of 60% gravel roads and includes 5,200-feet of climbing, offering spectacular views of the Vail Valley from Piney Lake and Red and White Mountain. The Jerry Garcia Birthday Band will be playing at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater in Vail in the evenings on August 17 and 18. Finally, an expo will accompany the races in both Vail and Denver.
“With our 2018 mountain and city race routes and multiple formats, plus the three-day companion ‘celebration of the bike’ at Velorama, we are striving to create the most fan-friendly professional cycling event in the country.” – David Koff, CEO of RPM Events Group
When the races move into the bigger city on Saturday, August 18, the excitement really heats up as spectators will find a day full of events in Denver’s RiNo Art District. An interactive bike expo will feature test tracks for road and e-bikes, a beer relay, and an opportunity to race the train as it passes along the west side of the festival grounds. Keep an eye out for Red Truck’s exhibition of classic bicycles ridden by Inga Thompson in the 1984 and 1988 Olympics, the 1989 Tour de France, the 1990 Ore Ida Women’s Challenge, and the 1991 World Championship. The Velorama Music Festival kicks off in the RiNo Art Districts on Friday afternoon and then follows the racing action on Saturday and Sunday. Headlined by Modest Mouse and Cold War Kids, the music begins all three days at 4:00 pm and will run until 9:00 -10:00 pm. Tickets range from $10 for a single-day Sunday pass to $100 for all three days. Festival attendees can enjoy craft beer, wine and hard cider from independent RiNo producers and cuisine from twenty of Denver’s best food trucks. A portion of every ticket sold to Velorama will be donated to local cycling initiatives.