USA Pro Cycling Challenge celebrates 2012 host cities today

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Today was supposed to be the big reveal of the host cities for the 2012 Pro Cycling Challenge -- but that list leaked on Friday, in the Denver Post. Still, organizers are going to make an event out of the announcement, with a live Internet broadcast at 5:15 p.m. MST today that will feature some of the top racers from 2011, as well as more details about the 2012 race route.

The 2012 race, August 20-26, will feature seven stages instead of six, starting in Durango and finishing with a time trial in Denver, with stops in Telluride, Montrose, Crested Butte, Aspen, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Colorado Springs, Golden and Boulder along the way.

"What makes Colorado uniquely challenging is the Rocky Mountains," said 2011 winner Levi Leipheimer, in a statement released after the host cities were made public. "Knowing that in 2012 we will start in one corner of the state and suffer through more mountain passes than any other race of this caliber in North America is exciting. Add in the altitude factor and you've got one beast of a race."

Durango, Telluride, Montrose, and Boulder -- cycling meccas, all -- are new to the list for 2012, after vying for a piece of the economic windfall (an estimated $83.5 million statewide) that last year's race brought to the host cities. Durango is a particularly notable choice: According to USA Pro Cycling Challenge promoters, "Durango is home to more professional cyclists, national champions and Olympians per capita than any other town in the United States."

The race has also been upgraded to a 2.HC ranking, "the highest registration level next to the Tour de France," according to race promoters. For the full 2012 stage breakdown, visit www.USAProCyclingChallenge.com.

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