Aspen to host Quiznos Pro Challenge

By Troy Hooper
Real AspenNovember 4, 2010
Aspen is among 11 cities selected to host the Quiznos Pro Challenge — a new international bike race that former Denver Broncos great Shannon Sharpe declared will be here “for a long, long, long time.”

“There is no question in my mind this will be the preeminent cycling race in North America,” said Sharpe, a cycling fanatic who isn't afraid to make big, bold statements on all things sports.

But the “Mouth From The South,” as he was known in NFL locker rooms, isn't telling a tall tale.

The brainchild of seven-time Tour de France winner and part-time Aspen resident Lance Armstrong and Gov. Bill Ritter, the Quiznos Pro Challenge will be a grueling seven-stage, 600-mile race through Colorado's high country.

Gov. Bill Ritter and NFL Hall of Fame candidate Shannon Sharpe at today's Quiznos Pro Challenge press conference in Denver.

It will feature challenging climbs and a beautiful backdrop for 120 world-class cyclists who will get their bikes rolling in Colorado Springs on Aug. 22, 2011, race to Salida and then Crested Butte before heading from Gunnison to Aspen for the fourth stage, called the “mountain stage.” Cyclists will then follow the former Coors Classic course at a time trial in Vail, before zipping from Avon to Steamboat Springs and then to Breckenridge. It will conclude Aug. 28 with a stage from Golden to Denver.

Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland joined celebrities and politicians in Denver today to announce the stages. He warmed up the crowd by explaining he is a full-time resident of our classic ski town. “My bike has worked more than my car, my skis are at the bank now collateralizing my home ...” he joked.

“Aspen has a pretty proud tradition of biking and bike racing,” said Ireland, an avid cyclist, as he thanked Armstrong and Ritter for bringing bike racing back to Aspen, an idea he only dreamed about.

Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland and Quiznos spokeswoman Ellen Kramer.

He noted that the first American man to win an Olympic gold medalist in road cycling, Alexi Grewal, lives in Aspen and he has grown tired of watching him pass him on the jaunt up Independence Pass.

“Of course, that was always embarrassing ,” said Ireland, “especially if you were in a car.”

Twenty-three cities submitted bids to host stages of the event. Fewer than half of them were chosen. Boulder and Telluride were left out.

“We had so much interest from incredible cities across Colorado that we could hold an event of twice the duration," Quiznos spokeswoman Ellen Kramer said. “We worked diligently throughout the selection process to incorporate cities that provide terrain that is unique to Colorado and delivers one of the most exciting cycling events in the world.”

2011 Quiznos Pro Challenge stages
August 22 – Stage 1, Prologue time trial, Colorado Springs
August 23 – Stage 2, Salida to Crested Butte, mountain-top finish
August 24 – Stage 3, Gunnison to Aspen, mountain stage
August 25 – Stage 4, Vail, time trail, former Coors Classic stage
August 26 – Stage 5, Avon to Steamboat Springs
August 27 – Stage 6, Steamboat Springs to Breckenridge
August 28 – Stage 7, Golden to Denver

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