Organizers for the seven-day cycling race formerly promoted as the Quiznos Pro Challenge announced big news yesterday: They've rebranded as the USA Pro Cycling Challenge and inked a major broadcast deal for 23 hours of race coverage on Versus August 22-28 and two hours of live coverage on NBC on the final race day, August 28.
Lance Armstrong is a partner in the 600-mile seven-stage race, which has aspirations of Tour de France proportions and will feature sixteen international teams and 128 of the world's top riders. Host cities for the race include Colorado Springs, Salida, Crested Butte, Gunnison, Aspen, Vail, Avon, Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge, Golden, and Denver, where the race will conclude. And, according to yesterday's news release, Denver-based company Quiznos is staying on as the founding sponsor despite the name change.
"As the race continues to build momentum with teams and sponsors from across the globe, and as we significantly increase media coverage nationally and internationally, our new logo will brand the event in a way that better communicates the scale of the event and its audience," says Rick Schaden, owner and co-chairman of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, in the release. "Our goal is to help raise the profile of professional cycling in the United States by hosting an epic race in Colorado that draws the top cyclists in the world and mirrors the excitement of the Tour de France."
The promoters are dreaming big, claiming the race will be the largest spectator event in Colorado history (500,000 on-site spectators is the number they're throwing around on their website).
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"Colorado's going to be the real winner," says USA Pro Cycling Challenge spokeswoman Stacie Lange. "With 25 unprecendented hours of live coverage featuring the finest cities and landscapes in the state, we're putting all eyes on Colorado in the midst of a world-class event. Look for a major announcement on April 11 for all of our travel and tour packages."
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The race begins with a prologue stage in Colorado Springs, followed by stages that will take the cyclists from Salida to Crested Butte, Gunnison to Aspen, Vail to Avon, Avon to Steamboat Springs, Steamboat Springs to Breckenridge, and Golden to Denver.
"The Gunnison-to-Aspen stage will be one of the most challenging routes of any race in the world," Lange says. "We're starting at a higher altitude and reaching a higher altitude than anything in the Tour de France: The athletes will crest 12,000 feet twice during that stage. There's just nothing else like that."