The O. Zone

USA Pro Cycling Challenge stacked with stars

By David O. Williams
Real AspenAugust 8, 2012

The USA Pro Challenge today announced a loaded field for the annual Colorado cycling stage race starting in Durango Aug. 20 and ending in Denver Aug. 26. As I reported last week, Boulder’s Taylor Phinney – so close to medaling in both the road race and time trial at the London Olympics – will be competing on his home state soil.

And two of the last three Tour de France champions – Cadel Evans and Andy Schleck – will be back this year. So will defending Pro Challenge champion Levi Leipheimer, winner of the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge last year.

This year’s race includes a spectacular stage 4 that starts in Aspen, travels up and over Independence Pass along Highway 82 to U.S. 24. There it heads north through Leadville and over both Tennessee and Battle Mountain passes to Minturn. Then it will proceed along U.S. Highway 6 to Avon, where it will head up into Beaver Creek for an intense mountain-top finish.

I tapped cycling expert Andy Hood (former Vail Daily editor and now Velo News European correspondent) for some insider knowledge, and he picked BMC Racing’s Tejay Van Garderen to win this year’s Pro Challenge.

Van Garderen lives in Boulder and was the top American finisher (fifth) in this year’s Tour de France. He also won the white jersey as the best young rider. In last year’s Pro Challenge he was leading the race before being bumped by a record-breaking time trial finish by Leipheimer on Vail Pass. Van Garderen was pretty upset after that critical Vail time trail stage and will likely have redemption on his mind this year.

Here’s the full press release announcing this year’s stacked USA Pro Challenge field:

Marking one of the best fields ever assembled on American soil for a professional cycling race, the provisionary team rosters* for the 2012 USA Pro Challenge have been confirmed. Taking place August 20-26, the race will travel through 12 host cities, taking riders and fans on a scenic tour through the Colorado Rockies. Emphasizing the competitive level of the field, the race will include six of the top 13 finishers from this year’s Tour de France – Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) of Liquigas-Cannondale, Tejay Van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing, Cadel Evans (AUS) of BMC Racing Team, Janez Brajkovic (SLO) from Astana Pro Team, and RadioShack-Nissan-Trek riders Andreas Kloden (GER) and Chris Horner (USA).

“The talented group of international and domestic cycling stars set to participate in the 2012 USA Pro Challenge is a testament to the growing stature of the race,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the Pro Challenge. “With Olympic medalists and Tour de France champions battling it out in the Rockies, this field is one of the best that has ever competed on American soil. The competitive level of this field is going to make for seven days of nonstop action; it’s going to be one great week of cycling.”

The USA Pro Challenge will include 10 of the top 12 finishers from last year, including the top 5. Also featured will be Taylor Phinney (USA) of BMC Racing Team who recently secured two fourth place finishes at the London Olympics. Three of the past four USPRO National Champions in the road race (Tim Duggan - 2012, Ben King - 2010, George Hincapie - 2009) will line up in Colorado, as well as two former Giro d’Italia winners – Ivan Basso (ITA) and Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) of Liquigas-Cannondale.

The elite professional roster of teams, which includes 126 riders from 24 countries, is comprised of six teams that competed in the Tour de France, five Pro Continental teams and five Continental teams. Following is the preliminary complete list of riders that will be competing in the 2012 USA Pro Challenge.

*Team rosters are subject to change

UCI ProTeams

1. Astana Pro Team (KAZ)

• Janez Brajkovic (SLO)

• Sergey Renev (KAZ)

• Tanel Kangert (EST)

• Robert Kiserlovski (CRO)

• Dimitriy Muravyev (KAZ)

• Yevgeniy Nepomnyachshiy (KAZ)

• Evgeny Petrov (RUS)

• Fabio Aru (ITA)

2. BMC Racing Team (USA)

• Cadel Evans (AUS)

• Mathias Frank (SUI)

• Ivan Santaromita (ITA)

• Michael Schär (SUI)

• Johann Tschopp (SUI)

• Taylor Phinney (USA)

• George Hincapie (USA)

• Tejay Van Garderen (USA)

3. Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda (USA)

• Thomas Danielson (USA)

• Tyler Farrar (USA)

• Nathan Haas (AUS)

• Alex Howes (USA)

• Peter Stetina (USA)

• Christian Vandevelde (USA)

• David Zabriskie (USA)

• Lachlan David Morton (AUS)

4. Liquigas-Cannondale (ITA)

• Timothy Duggan (USA)

• Valerio Agnoli (ITA)

• Damiano Caruso (ITA)

• Edward King (USA)

• Paolo Longo Borghini (ITA)

• Vincenzo Nibali (ITA)

• Ivan Basso (ITA)

• Moreno Moser (ITA)

5. Omega Pharma-QuickStep (BEL)

• Levi Leipheimer (USA)

• Martin Velits (SVK)

• Peter Velits (SVK)

• Matt Brammeier (IRL)

• Jeroen Hoorne (BEL)

• Francesco Chicchi (ITA)

6. RadioShack-Nissan-Trek (LUX)

• Christopher Horner (USA)

• Jakob Fuglsang (DEN)

• Andy Schleck (LUX)

• Benjamin King (USA)

• Andreas Kloden (GER)

• Thomas Rohregger (AUT)

• Jens Voigt (GER)

• Oliver Zaugg (SUI)

UCI Professional Continental Teams

7. Champion System Pro Cycling Team (CHN)

• Craig Lewis (USA)

• Chris Butler (USA)

• Matthias Friedmann (GER)

• Pengda Jiao (CHN)

• Biao Liu (CHN)

• Aaron Kemps (AUS)

• Cameron Wurf (AUS)

• Gang Xu (CHN)

8. RusVelo (RUS)

• Matvey Zubov (RUS)

• Ivan Rovny (RUS)

• Dmitry Kozontchuk (RUS)

• Artem Ovechkin (RUS)

• Sergey Firsanov (RUS)

• Arkimedes Arguelyes Rodriges (RUS)

• Alexander Mironov (RUS)

• Sergey Klimov (RUS)

9. Team SpiderTech powered by C10 (CAN)

• David Boily (CAN)

• Flavio de Luna (MEX)

• Lucas Euser (USA)

• Caleb Fairly (USA)

• Hugo Houle (CAN)

• Ryan Roth (CAN)

• Zachary Bell (CAN)

• Brian Vandborg (DEN)

10. Team Type 1-SANOFI (USA)

• Kiel Reijnen (USA)

• Alexander Efimkin (RUS)

• Julien El Fares (FRA)

• Javier Megias Leal (ESP)

• Georg Preidler (AUT)

• Rubens Bertogliati (SUI)

• Alessandro Bazzana (ITA)

• Daniele Colli (ITA)

11. UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA)

• Rory Sutherland (AUS)

• Karl Menzies (AUS)

• Philip Deignan (IRL)

• Robert Forster (GER)

• Jacobe Keough (USA)

• Benjamin Day (AUS)

• Christopher Jones (USA)

• Jeffry Louder (USA)

UCI Continental Teams

12. Bissell Pro Cycling (USA)

• Christopher Baldwin (USA)

• Jeremy Vennell (NZL)

• Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA)

• Carter Jones (USA)

• Frank Kevin Pipp (USA)

• Eric Young (USA)

• Julian Kyer (USA)

• Joseph Schmalz (USA)

13. Bontrager Livestrong Team (USA)

• Joshua Atkins (NZL)

• Charlie Avis (USA)

• Lawson Craddock (USA)

• Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA)

• Ryan Eastman (USA)

• Connor O’Leary (USA)

• James Oram (NZL)

• Gavin Mannion (USA)


• Rafael Infantino Abreu (COL)

• Giovanni Manuel Baez Alvarez (COL)

• Francisco Jarley Colorado Hernandez (COL)

• Ramiro Rincon Diaz (COL)

• Robigzon Leandro Oyola Oyola (COL)

• Freddy Orlando Piamonte Rodriguez (COL)

• Eduard Alexander Beltran Suarez (COL)

• Javier Eduardo Gomez Pineda (COL)

15. Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies (USA)

• Jesse Anthony (USA)

• Andrew Bajadali (USA)

• Alexander Candelario (USA)

• Michael Creed (USA)

• Tom Zirbel (USA)

• Sebastian Salas (CAN)

• Marsh Cooper (CAN)

• Michael Friedman (USA)

16. Team Exergy (USA)

• Kirk Carlsen (USA)

• Andres Diaz Corrales (COL)

• Mathew Cooke (USA)

• Noe Gianetti (SUI)

• Morgan Schnitt (USA)

• Fred Rodriguez (USA)

• Serghei Tvetcov (MOL)

• Sam Johnson (USA)

On Saturday, Aug. 18, the teams will be introduced to fans at the official gala and team presentation, taking place in Durango on the rim of Fort Lewis College, overlooking the beautiful La Plata Mountains. Celebrity hosts Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen and local Durango hero Bob Roll will introduce the riders during an intimate dinner, giving people a chance to check out the best of the best in cycling before the start of the race. Tickets are available at

Stages for the 2012 USA Pro Challenge include:

• Stage 1: Monday, Aug. 20 – Durango to Telluride

• Stage 2: Tuesday, Aug. 21 – Montrose to Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte

• Stage 3 : Wednesday, Aug. 22 – Gunnison to Aspen

• Stage 4: Thursday, Aug. 23 – Aspen to Beaver Creek

• Stage 5 : Friday, Aug. 24 – Breckenridge to Colorado Springs

• Stage 6 : Saturday, Aug. 25 – Golden to Boulder

• Stage 7: Sunday, Aug. 26 – Denver Individual Time Trial

About the USA Pro Challenge

For seven consecutive days, the world’s top athletes race through the majestic Colorado Rockies, reaching higher altitudes than they’ve ever had to endure as they ascend over three mountain passes, each exceeding 12,000 ft. in elevation. After attracting more than 1 million spectators in 2011, making it one of the largest cycling events in U.S. history, the USA Pro Challenge is back for 2012. Featuring a challenging, 683-mile course with more than 42,000 ft. of vertical climbing, the second annual race will spotlight the best of the best in professional cycling and some of America’s most beautiful scenery.

Referred to as “America’s Race,” the USA Pro Challenge will take place August 20-26, 2012, a week proclaimed by Governor John Hickenlooper as “Colorado Cycling Holiday,” and travel through 12 host cities from Durango to Denver. More information can be found online at and on Twitter at @USAProChallenge.

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