Here's a look at Stage 1 of the inaugural Colorado Classic cycling race, which will be held in Colorado Springs on Thursday. The Colorado Classic will continue to Breckenridge on Friday and Denver on Saturday and Sunday.
Race starts at 10 a.m. Thursday with the finish occurring approximately 90 minutes later. Route is 38.36 miles with 2,230 feet of elevation gain.
Race starts at 1:10 p.m. Thursday with the finish occurring approximately 3½ hours later. Route is 93.5 miles with 5,934 feet of elevation gain.
Five best places to watch the cyclists
1. Downtown Colorado Springs – The corner of Tejon Street and Pikes Peak Avenue is where both races start and finish. The men will pass by six times, about once every 30 minutes. The women will pass by five times, with the first two laps taking about 30 minutes each and the final three taking only about 5 minutes apiece. If you don’t want to battle the crowds at the finish, stake out a spot on Cascade Avenue or near Colorado College.
2. Ridge Road – Want to watch pain and agony from the comfort of a camping chair? Then go claim your place early on this stretch of pavement that in some places boasts grades of nearly 17 percent. You’ll get to see some of the top riders in the world struggle up this climb on the way into Garden of the Gods. By the time the men make it here for a sixth and final time, a breakaway group could be trying to fend off the hard-charging peloton.
3. Garden of the Gods – An explanation isn’t necessary since this city park is always a great place to visit. In addition to breathtaking scenery, it offers some short, steep climbs sure to challenge the elite cyclists. The pinnacle of Juniper Way Loop will offer a nice vantage point to watch the races. And the views will make the time between laps much more enjoyable.
4. Mesa Road and 30th Street – Once the riders depart Garden of the Gods, the climbing isn’t done. A short uphill stretch along 30th Street leads to the intersection with Mesa Road and another moderate ascent. From Mesa Road, spectators will be able to see the cyclists approach from a decent distance out and the riders’ speeds won’t amount to a colorful blur.
5. Old Colorado City – At very few points from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Thursday will Colorado Avenue be void of cyclists. That’s the road featured in the trek from downtown to Garden of the Gods and again during the journey back. The speeds will be high as this part of the route is flat so prepare for whiplash. But think of all the great lunch options in between the races.
Bring it along
1. Course map – Don’t waste time getting from Point A to Point B.
2. Sunscreen – If the sun is shining, it won’t take long to feel the burn.
3. Umbrella – If the sun isn’t shining, you don’t want to get drenched.
4. Cowbell – Make some noise; the riders feed off the enthusiasm.
5. Snacks – The time between laps will go by quicker on a full stomach.
6. Camping chair – Standing for hours will have you feeling like the riders.
7. Money – For lunch in Old Colorado City or memorabilia at the finish.
Leave it at home
1. Pets – The last thing you want is for Fido to play a part in the outcome.
2. Cellphone – OK, bring it but don’t be the guy whose selfie causes a wreck.
3. Spandex – It serves a purpose for the riders; not so much the spectators.
4. Running shoes – Cyclists can climb hills without you sprinting beside them.
5. Drone – Really? This one should speak for itself, but you never know.
How to watch
If you have to work Thursday and can’t make it out for the race, you can follow along on NBC Sports Gold, the network’s live-streaming, direct-to-consumer subscription app. A delayed broadcast will appear on NBC Sports Network starting at 4:30 p.m. Veteran cycling announcer Paul Sherwen will call the race with former pro cyclists Christian Vande Velde and Bob Roll.
As of 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, the forecast for the women’s race looks promising, with mostly sunny skies and temperatures of about 70 degrees. Storms could wreak havoc on the men’s race, however. According to AccuWeather, there is at least a 50 percent chance of storms from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The presence of rain wouldn’t halt the race, but the presence of lightning would.
10 riders to watch
Katie Compton – Colorado Springs resident is a 13-time national cyclocross champion.
Allie Dragoo – Fifth-place finisher in the 2015 USA Pro Challenge is coming off a victory in the Cascade Classic.
Sara Poidevin – Runner-up to Allie Dragoo in five-stage Cascade Classic.
Tayler Wiles – Winner of Stage 2 of the 2015 USA Pro Challenge.
Brent Bookwalter – Runner-up in the 2015 USA Pro Challenge.
Rob Britton – Canadian coming off a victory this month in the Tour of Utah.
Danny Pate – Colorado Springs resident is a four-time Tour de France participant.
Taylor Phinney – Boulder native is a two-time stage winner in the USA Pro Challenge.
Kiel Reijnen – Top-three finisher five times in the USA Pro Challenge.
Rigoberto Uran – Biggest name in the field as runner-up in last month’s Tour de France.