Leaked Pro Challenge Route
Colorado's biggest stage race is stepping it up in 2012.
Mount Baldy. In an interview with the Denver Post race CEO Shawn Hunter said the 14,265 foot Mt. Evans is a climb they would have to consider. Take a second to consider that option! Holy crap! I know defending champion Levi Leipheimer has to be salivating at the thought of that possible route; let's remember, it took several years before California tried a summit finish.
As Hunter tells the Post, "What really plays into a race's decision to hold a mountaintop finish is the ability to build an infrastructure up there for the safety of the athletes and second, for the safety and enjoyment of the fans."
If this year's race was any indication the entire side of the road to the summit in Colorado would be clogged with fans, many of whom will have spent a couple of nights camped out in order to secure a prime viewing location. And when you have a summit finish there is only one other way to get off the mountain when the stage is done - back how you came. Now imagine not only the fans, but racers as well trying to leave. Yeah, it's a cluster.
But in order for this race to take in all of that state's scenic beauty, as well as be considered a fantastic race with a worthy winner, a mountain top finish has to be in the cards. And shaking my Magic 8-Ball it predicts, "Outlook Good." Tuesday the 13th is an official press release which promises, "athlete interviews and behind the scene footage." I'm not confident that much more will be revealed other than a bunch of local mayors saying how happy they are the race starts or ends in their town and wishing all the racers good luck.
Since his victory in Colorado, Leipheimer has left Team RadioShack and transferred to the Belgian squad Omega Pharma-Quick Step. In an interview with Cyclingnews Leipheimer acknowledges that the squad, which features one day classic star Tom Boonen, typically isn't one for the Grand Tours, but does state, "they're (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) willing to open up to a new age, thinking like HTC did or Sky is now."
That might be true, but at 38-years of age Leipheimer knows a Tour de France podium is beyond reach and he needs to aim for America's Grand Tours and shorter European stage races like the Tour of Switzerland - which in my opinion - was some of the most exciting stage racing in 2011.
Undoubtedly with Leipheimer on board and the squad riding Specialized bikes you'll see Omega Pharma-Quick Step lined up in California and Colorado. Hell, maybe Utah as well! And if I was a betting man, I'd put money on him as he is motivated. He was second in California to then teammate Chris Horner. And again Leipheimer stresses to Cyclingnews how important California is by saying he's also going to try and be in his best form for both the Golden State and the 2012 Tour de France. If I was Pharma-Quick Step team director Patrick Lefevere I'd