11 August 2013

USA Pro Challenge in Vail

Attending The Race - Race Day Planning in Vail

For an updated 2014 post visit: On the path of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge - Vail

PEDAL DANCER FAN GUIDE - Stage 5 - USA Pro Challenge 2013

The big day for fans has returned - the Individual Time Trial on Vail Pass is back! We were there in 2011 for the USA Pro Challenge. I say we because I am sure you were there too, you wouldn't have missed that one. If you did - which I still deny - you can make up for it by getting out and going to the race this year. No excuses, except for work, but that is what vacation days are for.

This year the Vail Pass time trial falls on a Friday, just two short days before the final day in Denver, Colorado. It is time to round up your friends (or ride solo because you will definitely meet people on the pass) and head for the hills. Hours of entertainment await you as rider after rider race past you on either a modified road bike or a full out spiffy time trial bike up a narrow road to 10,000ft in altitude. A true test of man and his machine.

This course was inspired by the Coors Classic route raced upon the same road in 1988. The USA Pro Challenge first (and last) visited this time trial course in 2011 in its inaugural year. There will be an amateur time trial run on the course before the pros race, so be aware of cyclists coming through (Price: $1500, space is limited, register). In town, expect the typical Vail Village atmosphere with Festival and start ramp action.

The mountain ski village of Vail, Colorado.  ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
Location of Vail, Colorado
Stage Facts

Date: August 23, 2013
Start: 1:05pm
Start Location: Meadow Drive and Willow Bridge Road, Vail Village
Finish: 3:45pm (approximately)
Finish Location: west side of Vail Pass (not at the summit)
Route: Vail to Vail Pass (bike path juncture)
Stage 5 : Route Map  |  Route Profile
Distance: 10-miles
Climb: 1,694ft
Elevation: Vail 8,150 feet (2484 m), city size is only 4.5 sq miles (11.65 km²)
Vail City Race Day Guide
Official 2013 Spectator Guide
Stage Sponsor: Changing Diabetes

USA Pro Cycling: Official race  Website    Facebook    Twitter   YouTube

Stage 5 commemorative jersey of the Tour
Stage 5 commemorative jersey

Details: Stage 5: Vail Individual Time Trial – Friday, Aug. 23
Miles: 10 (16.1km)
Stage 5 Route Map

Race Route Description (according to Vail.com)
Racers start by heading West from Solaris Plaza on Meadow Drive in Vail Village. Turning south onto Willow Bridge Road, then the race heads east at Checkpoint Charlie onto Gore Creek Drive through Vail Village. They turn north onto Vail Valley Drive and proceed up to the South Frontage Road East where they turn east paralleling I-70. This road continues for just over 3.5 miles to East Vail and becomes Bighorn Road. Racers continue east on Bighorn Road for approximately 2 miles until it becomes the Old Highway 6, which is no longer used for vehicular traffic. It heads 4 miles uphill on Vail Pass to the cul-de-sac.

Map of Stage 5 Time Trial USA Pro Challenge
Stage 5 Route Profile
Stage 5: Vail Individual Time Trial – Friday, Aug. 23
Official Comments: The last time the USA Pro Challenge visited Vail, the Time Trial was decided by 58 hundredths of a second. Competition will be equally fierce this time around, but the names may change a bit. The course’s roots are in Colorado racing lore and trace back to the Coors Classic. Starting in Vail and climbing most of the way up Vail Pass, the route is no easy proposition, even for the best racers on earth. The gentle grades of the first half of the course give way to a steady climb for the last three miles. But it takes more than legs on this strategic course; go too hard early and the climb may kill your chances, but conserve too much for the climb and the leaderboard may be out of reach.

Pedal Dancer® comments: Lots is at stake on this day. The top riders will be racing hard. The riders will definitely need to warm up for this short punchy time trial up hill at altitude. Expect to see the riders out on course before the start and warming up on the rollers at their hotels or near the team bus. A 10-mile uphill at altitude time trial is going to hurt. Seconds matter and if you have any doubt about the intensity of this race, watch this video: Tejay van Garderen after completing the Vail ITT in 2011. Stage results from 2011.


Get to the area early for prime parking. I-70 westbound will be reduced to 1-lane and will cause slowing over the pass. The team cars will use the right hand lane to circle back off the pass into town. Some off-ramps will also be closed, a complete list of local road closures & parking for Vail Valley for the USA Pro Challenge on August 23, 2013.

The weather will be mild on race day 60s-70s with rain forecast. Bring a rain jacket.

Race day timing:

Official 2013 Spectator Guide

*Shuttle buses are available "all-day" from the Transportation Center
10:00-5pm - One lane of I-70 westbound closed, and other local roads
10-11:00am - Arrive in Vail, use Exit 173. Exit 180 closed, Exit 176 closed at times
11:30am - Be on Vail Pass
11:30-4pm - More temporary or full road closures
12:00-6pm - Festival (Expo) in Vail
12:00pm - Amateur Time Trial Begins
1:05pm - Race Start (1st rider)
3:45pm - Race Finish (approximate)/ Podium awards approx. 30 minutes after finish

click any map or image to enlarge 
Race Day in Vail. Photo© By Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Layout of Vail Time Trial event area.  Map by Pedal Dancer
Stage 5 event map. Official Spectator Guide Map
Calling all cycling fans to Vail.  ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
In the crowd watching the podium finish in Vail in 2011.  ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®

This is basically a one-way time trial. Fans that are on the pass will be there until the last rider finishes before being able to descend to Vail, so enjoy the day in this beautiful Colorado setting. The last miles of the ITT will be THE scene for cycling fans at the finish near Vail Pass.

You will not be able to drive within 3 miles of the finish, so please bike or walk. Shuttle vans will be provided from town to the base of the climb (a no vehicle bikes only zone all year round). Bring food and water (no source nearby) and a jacket. Expect large numbers of fans on the climb up Vail Pass, so pedal and arrive early.

Two years ago I was riding up the final stretch of road and heard the unmistakable sound of deep dish wheels behind me only to look and see Ivan Basso passing to my left. So cool. Since the route is only ten miles long, you will likely see teams out scouting the course in the morning as their pre warm-up.

The first rider (technically the last on GC standings) will begin in Vail central at 1:05pm. Riders will be spaced 60 seconds apart, the last 10 riders (top GC) will be 2 minutes apart. Teams arrive at around 11-11:30 in town, you will see riders warming up on their spinners near their team buses prior to their set start times. There are weigh-ins but no sign-ins at Time Trials.

Please do no paint on the road, only chalk. Please do not run next to the riders. The passage is very narrow and you are endangering the riders while really miffing off fellow spectators. And the team cars need to get by safely.

Wow that is really close! ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
Remember that what goes up must come down. The team cars do accompany riders up the pass and exit further up the trail entering I-70 for the return to town. The team cars will take with them the earlier riders. In 2011 some of the riders and the cyclists returning to the Vail side, rode back down on the path/road together into the town of Vail. It was thrilling to ride alongside the pros and realize you could keep up with them if you pedaled as hard as you could and they coasted.

Depending on how far up the pass, you had nestled in for your key viewing spot during the race, fans had time in 2011 to return to watch at least part of the podium awards in the center of the Village.


I like watching individual time trials for the bikes and for the anticipation of action off the start ramp, but Stage 5 offers the rare combination of being able to walk up or ride out on course in a spectacular setting a mere ten miles from the start line. This is a day to ride to the top on your mountain bike or road bike. Bring food and water, and wear your casual shorts, tshirts (rain jacket, just in case) sunscreen and comfy shoes. You will spend far more time hanging around than you will walking to or riding to this stage. Racing action is from 1:05-3:45pm approximately.

Photos of the Vail time trial roads, ten miles from town to the top.

click any image of map to enlarge
The frontage road in Vail, CO
The fun starts here. The side road on Vail Pass begins here - no car passage.
A short 10-mile climb at altitude
There are no cars allowed on this section - this is FAN territory. Walk or ride your bike. Map by Pedal Dancer
Layout of the finish area on Vail Pass and the (green route) bike path approach from both sides.  Map by Pedal Dancer.
Up and over Vail Pass at 16,662ft elevation (3,250m).  Photo© By Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Cyclists riding Vail Pass not a cloud in the sky.  Photo© By Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Photos from the ITT in 2011
Watching the steady stream of cyclists arriving on the pass before the race began. ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
At the Finish area, close enough to hear the final times announced of each rider. ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
Now this is a nice setting for a bike race!  ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
David Zabriskie racing up Vail Pass in 2011 - thrilling. ©Photo by Karen at PedalDancer®
Other Cycling Routes in the area:

Ride west into Vail over Vail Pass, from Frisco to Vail the mileage is approximately 27 miles one-way. The ride is easy from Frisco to Vail (except for 3 steep switchbacks), but a steep climb back from the point of the finish line on Vail Pass to Frisco.

Photo of the Day: Riding Vail Pass
Recommended Ridge: Colorado Copper Triangle
Recommended Ride: Loveland Pass

Information on Cycling Vail Pass can be found at this link: Vail Pass on CyclePass.com
The bike path over Vail Pass from Copper Mountain/Frisco.  Photo© By Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Sign-up to help out at the race for Stage 5 in Vail.

Road Closures & Parking
Full road closure details for Vail area: All Colorado Road Closures for the 2013 USA Pro Challenge Bike Race. A complete list of local road closures for Vail Valley

Hotel Accommodations
I would go straight to https://www.room77.com and look for the best Hotel deal in Beaver Creek, Avon, Edwards or Vail, Colorado, for the evening after Stage 4 and you will be perfectly poised to enjoy Stage 5 and the Individual Time Trial up Vail Pass the next day.

A must see for any travelers
The Betty Ford Alpine Gardens, 183 Gore Creek Drive, Vail; open from dawn to dusk. Free. The Vail Nature Center is nearby. 
Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. Photo from BettyFordAlpineGardens.org
Other PEDAL DANCER FAN GUIDES - USA Pro Challenge race day planning, travel guides, city special events, route maps and profiles, road closures, and stage start and finish times. (all links coming soon)

I have chased pro races for 13 years on the Continent and in Europe. I am now granted the thrill to be Media at some of the races but am always in touch with my roots as a fan. I share with you my inside tips on how to see and enjoy a professional cycling race. My love of travel, maps, photographs and human interest blend with the love of any bike and a good competition in sports. Welcome and enjoy the ride! (About Pedal Dancer®)

USA Pro Challenge in Aspen and Snowmass
USA Pro Challenge in Breckenridge (Part 1)
How & Where to Watch the USA Pro in Breckenridge (Part 2)
USA Pro Challenge in Steamboat Springs
USA Pro Challenge in Beaver Creek
USA Pro Challenge in Vail
USA Pro Challenge in Loveland
USA Pro Challenge in Fort Collins
USA Pro Challenge in Denver

For more information please visit the PEDAL DANCER GUIDE PAGE: USA PRO CHALLENGE

Riders in the 2013 USA Pro Challenge

Official website: http://www.usaprocyclingchallenge.com/

Monday, Aug. 19 - Stage 1: Aspen/Snowmass Circuit
Tuesday, Aug. 20 - Stage 2: Aspen/Snowmass - Breckenridge
Wednesday, Aug. 21 - Stage 3: Breckenridge - Steamboat Springs
Thursday, Aug. 22 - Stage 4: Steamboat Springs - Beaver Creek
Friday, Aug. 23 - Stage 5: Vail Time Trial
Saturday, Aug. 24 - Stage 6: Loveland - Fort Collins
Sunday, Aug. 25 - Stage 7: Denver Circuit