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Chris Benchetler getting it good. photo - Peter Morning
Team Clif Bar Blog
Aug 23, 2011
Pro Cycling Comes Back To Colorado!

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is finally under way!  Mark Johnson writes in to give us a feel for the atmosphere at Colorado’s first international bike race in over two decades…

It’s been way too long since European level pro bike racing has been in Colorado. 23 years to be exact.

That’s when the Coors Classic last blessed Colorado’s nose-bleed height roads with the likes of Greg LeMond, who won it in 1985, and Bernard Hinault, who took the title the following year. Indomitable Frenchwoman Jeannie Longo won the women’s race three times.

Well, the best in the world are back, including the top three from this year’s Tour de France, Cadel Evans and brothers Andy and Franck Schleck. Along with a stacked Garmin-Cervélo team, they are here for the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge.



So when the race kicked off in Colorado Springs, people who like to live outside — which is pretty much everyone in this state of open skies, soaring Rocky Mountains, and miles of empty riding roads and trails — came out in force to watch the first stage of the seven day race. The 10 mile prologue stage started in The Garden of the Gods, a city park above Colorado Springs, then bombed through otherworldly rock formations before finishing to roaring crowds in downtown.

Clif Bar athlete and Garmin-Cervélo rider Christian Vande Velde placed second, while German Patrick Gretsch finished first in the downhill race. Along the way, people came on on all manner of vehicles, from penny farthings to kids bikes to $10,000 racing machines. And there were no shortage of runners forging brave paths through the 6,000-foot mountain air. Here’s a selection of shots from the day.



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