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Stage 4, USA Pro Challenge in Colorado Springs Aug. 21 - photos from Westside circuits

During Stage 4 of the USA Pro Challenge race Aug. 21 in Colorado Springs, a tight group of cyclists cruises past Bancroft Park going west on one of the four 16-mile circuits on the course route that took in the Westside and downtown. In the background can be seen the Bancroft bandshell, where the Springs City Jazz Band performed (courtesy of the Avenue Merchants and Old Colorado City Associates) during the event.

LEFT: Colorado Springs has been a host city for three of the four annual USA Pro Challenge international cycling races. Each time the Garden of the Gods has been featured. Here, the peloton (the main group of riders), which at the time (midway through the race) was trailing a breakaway group, rolls out of the Garden, east on Gateway Road toward 30th Street. The route went left from there to Mesa Road. The jersey colors/styles represent the different teams (16 in all), each with eight riders. RIGHT: Early in the race, 11 cyclists pulled away from the peloton. Several of them are seen here leaning into the tight turn from 30th Street to begin the climb up Mesa Road. From there, the course continued along Mesa to Fontmore, downhill to 30th, then to Pikes Peak Avenue, to 29th, to Colorado Avenue and on to the downtown. After a loop there, the course took the riders back west on the avenue, right at 30th, left at Pikes Peak Avenue, then right at Ridge Road and uphill into the Garden.
In a view from beside the Prospector statue on the small hill at the northwest corner of Highway 24 and 21st Street, several riders cross in front of stopped highway traffic about 15 minutes into the race, which lasted about 2 1/2 hours in all, with riders averaging just under 30 mph for the 70-mile distance. The start was at the Broadmoor Hotel. After that, the route followed South 21st Street to Colorado Avenue, then downtown to embark on the first of the four circuits of the Westside and downtown.
LEFT: Shown here turning from 29th Street onto eastbound Colorado Avenue, then-leader Jens Voigt inspired onlookers with his one-man breakaway that lasted nearly the last third of the race. He held onto his solo lead until about a half a mile from the downtown finish line, when the peleton finally caught up and he was passed by a flurry of sprinters. Elia Viviani put on a final burst with about 200 meters left to claim the Stage 4 victory. As a consolation prize, Voigt, 42, who has announced that he is retiring after the final stage of the Pro Challenge (which ends Aug. 24 in Denver), was given the Most Aggressive Rider award for the day. In a quote after the race for official event chronicler Nicole Okoneski, Viviani praised the Stage 4 location."I had a great and beautiful experience in 2011 [the first year of the Pro Challenge, when the local stage was a time trial starting in the Garden of the Gods], and now I've come back three years later and it's still such a beautiful place. I like to race here so much, but it's really difficult. RIGHT: Going west on Colorado Avenue, the peloton crosses 26th Street. Riding with his team in the main group most of the day (not involved in breakaways) was Tejay Van Garderen, who ended up keeping the overall leader's yellow jersey that he had going in. He was with the group just behind Viviani at the finish, and as a result (under race scoring rules) technically had the same time as the winner and thus lost no time to the racers behind him in the standings.
The main group of racers negotiates the right turn from Colorado Avenue onto 30th Street. If they were tired after the 70-mile Stage 4 event in Colorado Springs, they needed to recuperate fast, with a new stage starting the next day in Woodland Park. The final Stage 7 was in Denver Aug. 24, with Van Garderen holding on for victory in the Pro Challenge for the second straight year.

Westside Pioneer photos
(Posted 8/21/14, updated 8/24/14; Transportation: General)

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