2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge route announced

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge returns for 2012Organizers of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge have announced the dates and route for the 2012 edition of the race, which will once again take place in Colorado. This year, the state played host to the inaugural event, which saw some of the world’s top cyclists competing on a course that involved plenty of climbing and altitude.

The 2012 version of the Pro Cycling Challenge will get underway on August 20th from Durango and will continue through the 26th, when riders finish up with a time trial through the streets of Denver. In between, they’ll visit Telluride, Aspen, Beaver Creek, Colorado Springs, Boulder, and a host of other mountain towns. The route will cover more than 520 miles and will feature climbs over five different mountain passes in excess of 10,000 feet in height.

This year’s race was a resounding success, bringing in more than one million spectators and generating an estimated $83.5 million in revenue for the state of Colorado. The week-long, stage race was won by American Levi Leipheimer, but also managed to attract some of the best riders in the world, including Frank Schleck, Robert Gesink, and 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans.

American cycling fans should be ecstatic that this event has been so well received and is returning for another year. Colorado is a fantastic place to hold a pro-level cycling competition, as the scenic mountain passes bring drama and excitement to every day of the race. This year’s course was billed as the highest altitude cycling competition ever, and it appears that the 2012 edition is poised to up the ante even further.

Take a cycling holiday through Australia’s state of Victoria

Cycling across the state of Victoria in AustraliaFollowing the big win by Aussie Cadel Evans in the Tour de France this year, it is safe to say that cycling fever has hit Down Under. But Australia has had a long tradition of cycling that dates back to well before Evans’ breakout performance at Le Tour. For example, the RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride, is a nine-day biking holiday that is entering its 28th year.

This November, Victoria is expected to play host to more than 4000 riders when the event gets underway. The ride begins in the town of Swan Hill on the 26th of that month and continues along the Murry River, passing through historic gold towns, before eventually finishing in Castlemaine. With eight days of riding, plus one rest day, the riders will cover a total of 590km (367 miles) as they pass through some of the most scenic landscapes that Victoria has to offer. Along the way, they’ll get a true taste of Australian culture and a healthy sampling of Aussie hospitality.

Riding an average of 73km (45 miles) per day, the cyclists will have plenty of time to take in the sights and enjoy a leisurely pedal through the countryside. And at the end of the day, they’ll stay in comfortable campsites, where the fun and camaraderie continues over good meals and great conversations about the day’s events.

The entry fee for the nine days of riding and camping is just $935 AUD for adults, $699 AUD for children under 18, and $399 AUD for children under 13. Kids five and under ride for free. That fee gets you a fully catered, tent-based cycling adventure that will allow you to see Australia like you never thought possible. Support services include luggage transportation, massage services, a full medical team and bike repair crew, as well as a licensed cafe that will keep you well fed.

I can’t imagine how much fun the Great Victorian Bike Ride must be. As an avid cyclists, I think it would be a lot of fun to hit the road with more than 4000 other riders on a nice long ride. One of these days I need to get back down to Australia and take part in this event.

[Photo credit: Brien Cohn/Great Victorian Bike Ride]

Australian Cadel Evans wins 2011 Tour de France

Cadel Eavns wins the 2011 Tour de FranceThe 2011 Tour de France came to an end yesterday on the Champs Elyesees in Paris, where Australian Cadel Evans rode to victory in the race’s famed Yellow Jersey. After more than three weeks of racing, Evans emerged from the pack as best rider in this year’s event, and became the first man from Australia to win cycling’s premiere event.

With a course designed to challenge the riders in unique ways on every single day, fans of the Tour expected this year’s race to be an exciting and wide open one. They got everything they wanted and more, as the 2011 Tour de France featured all kinds of dramatics, particularly when the race entered the high mountains of the Pyrenees and the Alps. During the three weeks of racing, there were daring breakaways, brilliant individual performances, and cringe-inducing crashes, including a nasty incident with a media car that sent Dutch rider Johnny Hoogerland flying into a barbed wire fence.

Before the race started back on July 2nd, the pre-race favorites included not only Evans, but also defending champ Alberto Contador of Spain and the brothers from Luxembourg, Frank and Andy Schleck. Contador was bogged down with crashes early in the race, injuring a knee in the process. Those mishaps cost him precious time, and despite a spirited attempt in the final days of the Tour, he never quite got into the rhythm that has won him the Yellow Jerseys on three separate occasions in the past.
Heading into Saturday however, Andy and Frank Schleck sat at first and second in the standings respectively. Working together, the two men had managed to claim a small lead over Evans coming out of the final mountain stages. Saturday’s stage was an individual time trial however, which is not a strong point for those two riders, and is a particular strength of Evans. The Aussie rode one of the best rides of the day, and left the two Schlecks in the dust, claiming the victory. The two brothers slid to second and third in the final standings.

As is traditional in the Tour de France, Sunday is mostly a ceremonial ride into Paris. While the Peloton will joust for the final stage win, and the sprint specialists duel for the last available points of the race, no one attacks the Yellow Jersey. As a result, Evans’ ride to the finish line in Paris was essentially a 60 mile long victory lap, one that he particularly enjoyed after two second place finishes in previous Tours.

Cadel’s big win is expected to open the door for more Australian cyclists to leave their mark on the sport, much the way that Greg LeMond and Lance Armstrong inspired young American cyclists. Australia already has a proud cycling tradition, but this win will give the sport yet another boost in the country.

Congrats to Evans on the amazing win.

[Photo courtesy of AFP]