Hopefully you’ve been taking advantage of the cooler temps and getting in some good cycling. After an exciting summer with the Tour de France and the Summer Olympics, it’s time to park yourself back to the couch to enjoy some more exciting pro racing!
We have two races going on in different parts of the world. The Vuelta a España, one of only three European “Grand Tours,” is a three week race over the grueling mountains of Italy.
The Vuelta, as it is called for short, began Saturday in Pamplona. A city famous for the running of the bulls saw cyclists barreling down the streets in the Team Time Trial. (See the full schedule below.)
Of the 21 days of racing, Vuelta riders will have only two rest days. The rest of the days consist of 3,360 kilometers of racing packed with 36 mountain passes, eight mountain stages and ten summit finishes. Three of the stages will finish on “hors categorie” rated ascents.
The Vuelta allows the opportunity for a couple of the smaller Spanish teams a chance to compete. There will also be plenty of big names, which you will recognize from the Tour, represented. AG2R La Mondiale and Astana Pro Team. Philippe Gilbert is riding with BMC Racing Team. Cofidis, Euskaltel-Euskadi, Team Garmin-Sharp, Katusha, Lampre, and Liquigas-Cannondale. Jurgen Van den Broeck will is riding withLotto. Movistar, Omega Pharma-Quickstep and Orica Greenedge. Robert Gesink is riding with Rabobank. RadioShack-Nissan. Christopher Froome is leading Sky Pro Cycling. (Without having to work for Wiggins, will this be his chance to shine?) Team Argos-Shimano. Alberto Contador is trying to restore his image with Team Saxo Bank Tinkoff Bank. Vacansoleil.
Closer to home, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge allows smaller US teams a chance to play with the big boys. There are international and domestic Pro Continental and Continental teams but also many larger, big name teams who are well represented with their top contenders or GC’s. While the Vuelta has many teams you’ll recognize from the Tour, the USA Pro Challenge has more individual names you’ll remember.
Levi Leipheimer, last year’s USA Pro Challenge’s winner, is leading Omega Pharma Quick-Step. Cadel Evans, last year’s Tour winner, is racing for BMC Racing Team with Tejay van Garderen, who was last year’s Best Young Rider of the Challenge. Tommy Danielson, Tyler Farrar, local hero Christian Vande Velde, and Dave Zabriskie make up part of the Garmin Sharp Barracuda team. Chris Horner heads up RadioShack-Nissan with teammates Andreas Klöden and Jens Voigt. Vincenzo Nibali leads Liquigas-Cannondale. Janez Brajkovic is riding for Astana Pro Team.
Last year’s inaugural USA Pro Challenge prided itself in being the most challenging race ever held on American soil. This year promises more of the same challenges for the riders, taking them on a heart-pounding journey through the breathtaking Colorado Rockies.
According to the race website:
After making history in the inaugural year by traveling to the highest elevation of any race in North America or Europe – higher than the most challenging route on the Tour de France – this year’s race will take the riders to an altitude of 12,000 ft. not one, but three separate times and will include a finish on iconic Flagstaff Mountain on the penultimate day…
With 9 mountain passes, 42,000 feet of combined elevation gain over 7 days, and 683 miles of total racing, the 2012 USA Pro Challenge race route will again demonstrate that THE MOUNTAIN CHANGES EVERYTHING.
2012 Vuelta a España
|8/18||Stage 1||Team Time-Trial||Pamplona||16.5 km|
|8/19||Stage 2||Flat||Pamplona to Viana||181.4 km|
|8/20||Stage 3||Mountains||Faustino V to Eibar (Arrate)||155.3 km|
|8/21||Stage 4||Mountains||Barakaldo to Estación de Valdezcaray||160.6 km|
|8/22||Stage 5||Flat||Logroño to Logroño||168.0 km|
|8/23||Stage 6||Flat||Tarazona to Jaca||175.4 km|
|8/24||Stage 7||Flat||Huesca to Alcañiz. Motorland Aragón||164.2 km|
|8/25||Stage 8||Mountains||Lleida to Andorra. Collada de la Gallina||174.7 km|
|8/26||Stage 9||Flat||Andorra to Barcelona||196.3 km|
|8/28||Stage 10||Flat||Ponteareas to Sanxenxo||190.0 km|
|8/29||Stage 11||Individual Time-Trial||Cambados to Pontevedra||39.4 km|
|8/30||Stage 12||Flat||Vilagarcía de Arousa to Mirador de Ézaro||190.5 km|
|8/31||Stage 13||Flat||Santiago de Compostela to Ferrol||172.8 km|
|9/1||Stage 14||Mountains||Palas de Rei to Puerto de Ancares||149.2 km|
|9/2||Stage 15||Mountains||La Robla to Lagos de Covadonga||186.5 km|
|9/3||Stage 16||Mountains||Gijón to Valgrande-Pajares. Cuitu Negru||183.5 km|
|9/5||Stage 17||Flat||Santander to Fuente Dé||187.3 km|
|9/6||Stage 18||Flat||Aguilar de Campoo to Valladolid||204.5 km|
|9/7||Stage 19||Flat||Peñafiel to La Lastrilla||178.4 km|
|9/8||Stage 20||Mountains||La Faisanera Golf. to Bola del Mundo||170.7 km|
|9/9||Stage 21||Flat||Cercedilla to Madrid||115.0 km|
2012nUSA Pro Cycling Challenge
|8/20||Stage 1||Durango – Telluride||202.1 km|
|8/21||Stage 2||Montrose – Crested Butte||159.6 km|
|8/22||Stage 3||Gunnison – Aspen||210 km|
|8/23||Stage 4||Aspen – Beaver Creek||156.4 km|
|8/24||Stage 5||Breckenridge – Colorado Springs||189.7 km|
|8/25||Stage 6||Golden – Boulder||166.2 km|
|8/26||Stage 7||Individual Team Time Trial||Denver||15.3 k|
Interested in seeing where a 17-year old Christian Vande Velde got his start before racing with the pros? Join us this Thursday evening at the Northbrook Velodrome when Higher Gear co-sponsors the 2012 Points Race State Championship for a spectacular night of racing!