Woodland Park gearing up for USA Pro Cycling Challenge

Riders will make several loops through town along Highway 24

Mike Perini
Woodland Park will be the start of Stage 5 of the 2014 USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
Danny Summers

Race fans will be able to get an up close and personal look at some of the top riders in the world when the USA Pro Cycling Challenge comes to Woodland Park in August.

“I believe we will double the size of our city,” said Mike Perini, Woodland Park Local Organizing Committee chair. “I am optimistically hopeful we will meet that expectation, and maybe more.”

Woodland Park’s population is about 7,200. In 2012, an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 fans flocked to the Teller County community to watch an intermediate sprint in town.

This year’s event is an even bigger deal because Woodland Park gets to host Stage 5 of the event on Friday, Aug. 22.

“The ‘City Above The Clouds’ is deeply honored that our town is one of the new start locations for the 2014 USA Pro Challenge,” Perini said. “We know this is an extremely important segment of the seven-day historic race and we are doing everything we can to make this memorable for cycling enthusiasts everywhere.”

The Woodland Park start will begin around 11 a.m. on Midland Avenue between the Ute Cultural Center and the library. A mobile stage will be moved in, where Pro Cycling officials will announce the names of each rider.

The group of riders, about 120, will head east on Highway 24 and make a loop near McDonald’s and Sonic. They are expected to go up and down Highway 24 several times. At some point they are expected to loop behind Tweeds and work their way back to the start line on Midland and then head west on Highway 24 toward the finish line in Breckenridge about four hours later.

“We are very excited that the Pro Challenge people were willing to do this in our town,” Perini said. “People who come to watch the start of the race will get a chance to see the riders for a while.

“It’s great for business owners, too.”

Perini added that the Woodland Park LOC chose this loop for specific reasons.

“We looked at several options but chose the approved route as we felt it had the best advantage for spectators as well as businesses,” he said. “In addition, we were limited on the amount of time and distance that the cyclists could remain in our community before traveling to the finish line for Stage 5 in Breckenridge.

“We believe that the route selected is the best to draw fan excitement as well as showcase our main street. There’s not a bad view anywhere along the approved route. It is going to be fantastic.”

The route to Breckenridge takes the riders on a quiet run through the Pike National Forest on Tarryall Road, which was unpaved until just last year. Riders then head to Fairplay to begin the long grind up 11,500 foot Hoosier Pass, the highest point in the race. Then it is on to Breckenridge, where last year’s challenging finish up Moonstone Road will be repeated again.

According to Paul Magnuson, the Woodland Park co-technical director for the race, the actual official starting point for the race will probably be near Bluebird Hill on Highway 24.

“The start of the race is neutral until that point,” said Magnuson, owner of Team Telecycle in Woodland Park.

Magnuson added that the loop through Woodland Park should last anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes.

The Woodland Park LOC is working feverishly to make the Woodland Park start a festive event.

“We’ll have a start village, kid’s zone, and activities before and after the race, concert and different options to keep people in town,” Perini said. “We are expecting businesses to provide a myriad of services for race watchers along the route. We are working hard with partners, vendors and exhibitors to make this a one-of-a-kind experience in our community.

“And we’re hoping to get a good group of folks up from the Springs. We’re collaborating with folks from the Springs to promote this.”