Top athletes amped up for milestone Colorado Classic

The four-stage women’s-only pro cycling race launches Thursday in Steamboat Springs.

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. – The eve of the 2019 Colorado Classic presented by VF Corporation tallied excitement from not only the favorites competing in the UCI 2.1-designated women’s pro cycling race, but also from the one and only Billie Jean King, who Tweeted her support for the landmark event.

The tennis legend encouraged her followers to tune into the Colorado Classic via the live-streaming Watch Now page and to support “women’s cycling on a global stage,” which is exactly what the 2019 event aims to do this year, becoming a women’s standalone event and the only one of its kind in the Western Hemisphere.

“To have a women’s only, 2.1 race in the U.S., it’s been a really long time since we’ve had one of those,” said veteran cyclist and former World Champion Amber Neben (Cogeas Mettler Look) at Wednesday’s opening press conference. “What’s special right now is you see more support on the women’s side. There’s more and more opportunities for women, creating more depth and that creates better racing. I love what Colorado is doing to bring people out and be a part of it. I think it’s pretty innovative.”

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Nearly 100 of the world’s top cyclists from 20 countries are competing in the 2019 Colorado Classic, which kicks off Thursday in Steamboat Springs with Stage 1 presented by Smartwool. Stage 1 features a beautiful but grueling 54-mile loop course that includes 4,255 feet of climbing and a technical, 10-kilometer gravel segment.

“There are a lot of opportunities in this year’s race,” said 2018 Colorado Classic champion Katie Hall, who returns to defend her title this year riding for the U.S. National Team and mentoring a group of collegiate All-Star cyclists. “I am so excited to race with these girls and help them have a positive experience. For them, it’s a bigger race than they’ve done before. It might take a brave move by somebody when the opportunities arise.”

The stacked field also features 2017 Colorado Classic champion Sara Poidevin (Rally-UHC), who commented on the race’s growth since its inception three years ago.

“I think this year will favor really dynamic racing each day,” she said. “In 2017 there were just a few decisive moments, whereas this year, I think this race will present a lot of opportunities for a lot of types of riders.”

Following Thursday’s opening stage, the race moves to a circuit course for Stage 2 in Avon presented by FirstBank on Friday, including a demanding final climbing lap through Beaver Creek. On Saturday, Stage 3 takes place on a series of hilly laps through Golden and the event wraps up Sunday with Stage 4 Denver presented by Gates Corporation over a series of spectator-friendly loops through downtown Denver.

Fresh off of a double gold-medal performance this month at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, Chloe Dygert (Sho-Air TWENTY20) said that her team has been eagerly anticipating the Colorado Classic for months.

“This race was definitely something we’ve all looked at all year,” she said. “It’s an important race for us. Being women’s only is definitely a step in the right direction. It’s exciting for our sport. It’s going to be a good one.”

The 2019 Colorado Classic kicks off at 11:30 a.m. in Steamboat. There will be live streaming coverage from start to finish as well as live broadcasts on Altitude Sports & Entertainment. Follow statistics and race progress by downloading Tour Tracker.

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