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USA Pro Challenge bike race coming to the valley

Racers ready! See you on August 18, 19 and 20
The USA Pro Challenge will roll through the Gunnison Valley for the third time in four years this week, bringing with it some of the world’s greatest pro cyclists riding some of the nation’s toughest mountain passes. 
The race begins in Aspen on Monday, August 18 with racers embarking on a 61-mile circuit that ends back in Aspen. Then on Tuesday, August 19, the course travels from the Roaring Fork Valley, over the dirt of Kebler Pass into Crested Butte and on to Mt. Crested Butte. 

Stage Three starts the morning of Wednesday, August 20 from Gunnison and moves up over Monarch Pass to Salida then back up Monarch. Four more stages follow with stops in Colorado Springs, Breckenridge, Vail, Boulder and Denver. Each stage is televised to an international audience, and like all the towns hosting stages, Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte have been working to put on their best face and organize not just a finish line party but a celebration of unique mountain culture. “This spectacular event showcases the Crested Butte community to active, high-income individuals across Colorado, the United States and internationally,” said Local Organizing Committee chairperson Marjorie Trautman. “The event is expected to reach over two billion people—people who are prime to visit our community year-‘round.” The high visibility of the race and potential economic boon is something the towns are hoping to capitalize on. Combined, they have given $65,000 to promote the race and provide the infrastructure necessary of a stage host. In addition, the Local Organizing Committee has undertaken a range of fundraising efforts, including a crowd sourcing campaign, to raise another $60,000 for the event. “We have had a great response to our fundraising efforts and are grateful to the individuals, families and businesses who have already pledged their support and make this event a huge success,” said Trautman. While $125,000 may seem like a lot for an event that is in town less than 24 hours, the dollars provide for much more than just a finish line. “The exposure of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte in the USA Pro Challenge is extensive to a worldwide crowd, that is passionate about cycling,” said Crested Butte Mountain Resort director of innovation Erica Mueller. “While we may not be known for our road cycling quite like we are for mountain biking, the awareness of Colorado and Crested Butte is only heightened by hosting a stage finish to a crowd that is active. The valley as a whole benefits from having this race for the third time.” Events associated with the race include a Block Party and kids’ criterium in downtown Crested Butte on August 18, a townie criterium and parade on August 19 and a Finish Line Festival also on August 19. Then on August 20 racers will leave from Gunnison, and a bus is being organized to follow the peloton over Monarch Pass. Families and kids are welcome at all events, but dogs, for good reasons, are not. “Please do not bring your dog to the race,” said LOC chairperson Dave Ochs. “It’s just not the place for a dog. Riders will be coming off Kebler Pass at close to 50 mph. They’ll be hitting close to 40 on Elk at the Sprint line. We aim to put on a stellar show here in Crested Butte, it would be detrimental to have an accident with the peloton and have that make headlines and the television. Please keep dogs at home and contained, and please also keep kids under control so they don’t step onto the course at the wrong time.” Several roads will be closed for the event, and the Mountain Express will be following an alternative route and schedule. For all the details of the 2014 Pro Challenge see page 22. Donations and volunteers for the race are still needed. For more information visit elkmountainevents.com, or contact Marjorie Trautman at (970) 349-6516.

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