The 2019 Colorado Classic is the only UCI standalone women’s stage race in North America, and it will be hitting the streets of Colorado on August 22-25.
The organizer of the Colorado Classic, RPM Events Group, is giving these fast women a big incentive to attend – the $75,000 prize purse is almost four times that of the 2018 women’s Colorado Classic, and is also higher than the men’s purse from last year.
This is the third annual Colorado Classic, but the first time as a women’s only event. The four stages of this race will take riders through some challenging terrain. This high-altitude race will be sure to test the legs and lungs on these athletes.
Understanding The Jerseys
There will be 16 teams competing for the overall title, as well as several jerseys throughout the Colorado Classic. The competition jerseys include the coveted Gates Corporation General Classification, which is awarded to the rider with the lowest cumulative time throughout the four stages.
Also up for grabs is the Colorado Tourism Office Queen of the Mountain jersey, which will go to the rider with the most points earned at the top of designated climbs throughout the stages. Next up is the FirstBank Sprint Leader jersey. This jersey will go to the rider with the most accumulated points from the sprint lines throughout the course. The fourth jersey, the VF Corporation Best Young Rider, will go to the rider under 25 that finishes highest in the general classification.
The VF Corporation Most Badass Rider is a bit more subjective. The rider that will earn this jersey will display fearlessness, aggression, and confidence. The final jersey is another subjective one, the Audi Most Inspirational Rider. This jersey, as well as the Most Badass Rider, is awarded by a jury. The rider that earns this jersey will demonstrate perseverance, grit, and deep dedication.
All jerseys are awarded at the end of each stage, based on the cumulative results. They will also go to the overall winners at the end of stage four.
The Colorado Classic has four stages ranging from 50-64 miles. Let’s take a closer look at each individual stage below:
Stage 1: Steamboat Springs p/b Smartwool
This is a tough start to the Colorado Classic. The one lap course has just over 4000 feet of elevation gain with two QOM’s over 54.2 miles. This loop also has just over 6 miles of gravel, which will definitely keep things interesting.
You won’t want to miss this one. The stage can go a number of different ways – a strong climber might be able to sneak into a break on one of the punchy climbs, but with the technical descents, handling skills are a must to fend off the peloton. There is one intermediate sprint and two QOM’s on this stage.
Stage 2: Avon p/b FirstBank
Stage 2 is the Queen Stage of this race, tackling the tremendously steep Daybreak Ridge. This stage starts out with 7 laps of a 5-mile circuit, and finishes on a 15 mile bonus lap that includes the Daybreak Ridge climb. This climb hits grades of 14% and finishes off with a technical descent through Bachelor Gulch.
The stage has two intermediate sprints, and one QOM.
Stage 3: Golden
This stage is the longest stage of the race (63.7 miles), and also has the most elevation gain (4,639 feet). It will take our racers through 7 laps of a 9-mile circuit passing through downtown Golden.
Stage 3 might be a day for the sprinters. With three intermediate sprints and only one QOM, expect the pace to stay high throughout the entire race as teams line their sprinters up to grab some extra points.
Stage 4: Denver p/b Gates Corporation
The final stage is the most sprint-friendly stage of the Colorado Classic. With only 1,345 feet of elevation gain over 52.8 miles, this stage will be fast. On flat courses, it is harder for breakaways to stick, so this stage will likely come down to a field sprint.
No QOM’s today, but there are three intermediate sprints for the final chance to earn points for the FirstBank Sprint jersey.
Who To Watch For
This is the most competitive field yet, with five international and four top 20 UCI women’s elite teams. USA Cycling has recruited an all-star collegiate team as well, which will give young riders a great opportunity to hit the streets with some more seasoned racers and gain valuable experience.
Katie Hall, the winner of the 2018 Colorado Classic, will be mentoring and leading the US National team. Katie will definitely be one to watch for on this challenging course.
The winner of the 2017 Colorado Classic is another rider to keep an eye on – Sara Poidevin, racing for Rally-UHC. Both riders are great climbers, and have demonstrated their ability to win at altitude.
While every team competing this year is capable of pulling out a win, the Canyon / SRAM Racing team out of Germany is the highest-ranked UCI team (5th) competing at the Colorado Classic, and will be the squad to look out for in the overall standings.
The Hagens Berman / Supermint team has been dominating the USA Crits series this year. The team has some impressive sprinters, and should be a driving force on the final stage.
How To Watch
The Colorado Classic p/b VF Corporation is generously live streaming every stage, start to finish, online for free. There are a few different places to watch: The Colorado Classic website, the tour tracker app, the Colorado Classic Facebook page, and on the Altitude Sports TV channel.
Who’s your pick for the winner of the 2019 Colorado Classic? Comment below!