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Stage 2: Montrose to Crested Butte: 99 miles
But if a "pure" climber is in the lead and it's only a few seconds, the final stage could be exciting. The course is mostly flat but has a few tricky turns; the toughest part may be maintaining speed through City Park's roundabouts.
2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge Route Analysis
Stage 5: Breckenridge to Colorado Springs: 118 miles
teams will be very mindful of who is in that break a group of support riders and rouleurs? No problem. Christian Vande Velde? Problem.
The other wrinkle here is the finish, at Beaver Creek ski area. I'm guessing from the profile that they go straight up the approach road, which has steep spots over its 1,000 foot elevation gain but is wide. It'll be a tactical drag race to the base area. You could see your fourth new race leader in as many stages.
This is a long, slow drag to altitude. Cerro Summit and Blue Mesa could send more breaks up the road, but from Blue Mesa reservoir it's a steady rise all the way to Gunny and up valley to Crested Butte. Nike Jackets Gray The finish will be the same as last year, and is longer and steeper than it looks. This is the first real separation point for the race; last year overall winner Levi Leipheimer made his move here, and you can expect the favorites to be attentive at the front.
As expected from the initial announcements of the stages' host towns, the 2012 route looks longer and harder than the inaugural edition and very likely to be suspenseful to the final stage.
My advice? Book your hotel now or (horrors) resign yourself to staying out of town. Room rates will be like an Olympic host city. In fact, I have a basement bedroom with private bath, free WiFi, and access to a garage with tools. Rent it now for the low, low price of $4,000,000 a day. (No smokers, please.)
Stage 4: Aspen to Beaver Creek: 97 miles
A direct reprise of the queen stage last year, this will be absolutely pivotal. That goes double if there's again weather at the summit of Independence Pass. Last year's downpour made the descent more crucial than the climb, with tricky, narrow roads that are not always in great shape. What is unlike last year is that it's not the last major climb of the race, so there's still room to recover from a bad day.
Stage 3: Gunnison to Aspen: 131 miles
feature real uphill finishes; a fourth comes after a tricky descent following the hardest climb in the race. Then there's that Stage 7 time trial, mostly flat but long enough to mix up the standings if things are tight going into it.
This is the only stage besides Stage 1 that could end in a sprint, and even then it's not assured. If they've made it this far, sprinters have to contend with a 10 mile climb up Hoosier Pass (11,500 feet). Even if dropped, they'll likely get back on as the rest of the route mostly descends to the plains.
To wit: Three of the seven stages Nike Sportswear Tech Fleece Men's Funnel-neck Hoodie
True story: Last year, if you put Crested Butte Aspen into Google Maps for directions, it routed you via Pearl Pass they appear to have fixed that bug this year. We met two women in the Aspen press room who claimed to have followed said directions in their rental car I kinda doubt it since Pearl Pass requires a serious 4wd vehicle, but it's fun to think about trying it. With the full insurance package.
city plans to open access to Chapman Drive to ferry race personnel down, it will take forever to get off the hill (except if you know my secret canoe escape route off Gross Reservoir).
Note: If you're the enterprising off road type, a great way to see this stage would be to watch the Crested Butte finish the day before, then wake up early and do the famed Pearl Pass mountain bike ride and arrive in Aspen in time for the finish. (Ro sham bo for who gets the thankless task of shuttling the rental car the long way around.)
The unrelenting hills will probably have reduced the main contenders to no more than five riders. And it's possible that the race overall will be out of reach after the Flagstaff summit finish especially if, say, a rider like Leipheimer or Vande Velde have more than 20 to 30 seconds lead. They're both good in time trials and would not stand to lose much ground, especially not over a short course.
Rewind. Riders head back over Independence Pass pretty much from the start. Two things of note there. One: surefire breakaway. Two: The Forest Service is concerned about possible damage by fans up high on the pass, so they are considering closing the road to camping this year. I hope they don't; Independence is a beautiful pass but it's not a national park, and one extra day of fans on the roadside should not do substantially more harm.
Sorry, Aspen. This is the new big boy stage. After taking a wait and see approach last year, Boulder jumped in with both feet this time. It'll be the first time a stage makes a circuit through the finish town before the finish. And there's lots of climbing a long drag up Boulder Canyon, a shorter and steeper ascent of Lee Hill and then the big show, the summit finish on Flagstaff Mountain.
Stage 7: Denver: 9.5 miles (individual time trial)
But just before the finish they'll take a detour up into Garden of the Gods State Park, site of last year's prologue time trial. The climb is not long, but it is steep and you can expect a breakaway. A fast descent back to town may use the same prologue course as last year, and it is short enough that the field may not re catch the escapees.
There's some solid climbing on this stage, including Lizard Head pass, at 10,222 feet. But it's too far from Telluride to factor in overall tactics. It will weed out the sprinters, and we could see a breakaway succeed. But in a shorter stage race, Nike Sb Jacket Camo
Stage 6: Golden to Boulder: 103 miles
I'm going to go out on something of a limb here and say that one of the biggest hurdles on this stage will be logistics. Flagstaff will have so many people on it that it may exert undue force on the earth's gravitational fields. It's generally a one way up, one way down road, so unless the Nike Hoodie Royal Blue
Stage 1: Durango to Telluride: 125 miles
But that's not all. The race route goes through two towns Nederland and Lyons hosting popular folk music festivals the same day. And the University of Colorado starts classes on Monday, August 27, just two days after the Boulder stage, meaning that Boulder will be packed with students and freshmen's parents on what is a key dorm move in weekend.
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