DENVER, Aug. 14, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- When the 5th edition of the USA Pro Challenge kicks off next Monday in the resort town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, it will mark the dawning of a new era with several rising stars within the sport participating.
Final rosters for Colorado's biggest annual sporting event were announced today and some of the young guns of the sport will be featured, led by 25-year-old Australian Rohan Dennis of BMC Racing, the Stage 1 winner of this year's Tour de France and teammate Taylor Phinney of Boulder, Colo., a former track world champion and stage winner at last year's Amgen Tour of California. Phinney will be making only his second start since severely breaking his leg last season.
"Professional cycling is seeing a changing of the guards at the elite level and we are at its doorstep," said USA Pro Challenge CEO Shawn Hunter. "Rohan Dennis and Taylor Phinney are just two of several young, rising stars of the sport we will see this year. It will be great to welcome Taylor back to race in his home state. He's gone through so much to get back to racing. Overall, we expect a great race that is wide-open. It will be fun to see who rises to the occasion."
"The USA Pro Challenge has a big place in my heart, being in the state of Colorado, which is my home state," said Phinney. "I had a really good time here in 2012 when Tejay van Garderen narrowly missed out on the victory and it was George Hincapie's last race and there was a stage through Boulder. So, I am definitely excited to get into it. I still have some gains to make when it comes to my recovery, so I am just going to keep the train rolling from Utah. It will definitely be good to be on my home roads and race in Colorado and in America. I am going to just take it day by day."
Two-time defending-champion Tejay van Garderen of BMC Racing is missing from this year's roster leaving the race for the leader's jersey less predictable than any previous race. Some of the favorites include Dennis and Italian teammate Damiano Caruso, a top-10 finisher in this year's Tour of Italy; Italian 22-year-old Davide Formolo of Team Cannondale-Garmin, a stage winner at this year's Tour of Italy; Roman Kreuziger, a two-time Top 10 finisher in the Tour de France and winner of 2012 Amstel Gold race; and a trio of Colombians, including Trek Factory Racing's Julian Arredondo, the 2014 Tour of Italy KOM jersey winner and a stage winner of that race; Formolo's teammate Janier Acevedo, who placed 3rd overall in the 2013 Amgen Tour of California; and Jamis-Hagens Berman's Daniel Jaramillo, who finished 2nd overall in this year's Colombian national championships.
"With the altitude and amount of climbing in this year's race, including a mountain top finish at Arapahoe Basin at over 10,000 feet, the Colombians have to be marked men," said Denver's Danny Summerhill of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team. "They are dangerous but there are a lot of Americans who live or have been training in Colorado at high altitude that should be up for the challenge."
Among the Coloradoans to watch: Kiel Reijnen of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team, who won Stage 1 and retained the yellow jersey at last year's USA Pro Challenge; 20-year-old Gregory Daniel of Golden who races for Axeon Cycling team; and Summerhill.
Other riders to look for in the general classification include U.S. Champion Matthew Busche of the Trek Factory Racing team, who is attempting to come back from a big crash at Tour of Utah last week; Colombian Edward Beltran, Portugal's Bruno Pires and Spain's Jesus Hernandez, all exceptional climbers from Team Tinkoff-Saxo; Australia's Lachlan Norris of Drapac Pro Cycling and a mountain stage winner at last week's Tour of Utah; Slovenia's Janez Brajkovic of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team; Canadian Rob Britton of Team SmartStop; and Australian Lachlan Morton of Team Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis, 5th overall and five-day race leader in the 2013 USA Pro Challenge.
Other notable riders announced include a pair of stage winners from last year's USA Pro Challenge: Luxembourg's Laurent Didier of Trek Factory Racing and American Robin Carpenter of Hincapie Racing Team; Brent Bookwalter, the 3rd place finisher in the 2015 Tour of Utah; Slovenia's Jure Kocjan of Team SmartStop, a multiple stage winner and leader of the 2015 Tour of Utah; former Swiss national champions Michael Schar of BMC Racing, a stage winner in 2015 Tour de France, and Martin Kohler of Drapac Pro Cycling Team; and former U.S. Champions Eric Marcotte of Team SmartStop and Tom Zirbel of Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies.
The big revelations for the USA Pro Challenge may manifest out of the tremendous crop of young riders under age 25, including Cannondale-Garmin's Reuben Zepuntke of Germany, the 3rd place overall finisher in the 2014 Tour of Alberta and Norway's Kristoffer Skjerping, the bronze medalist at last year's Under-23 World Championships, road race; Hincapie Racing's Dion Smith of New Zealand, Robbie Squire and John Hornbeck of the United States; Axeon Pro Cycling's Daniel Eaton, the Under 23 U.S. time trial champion, New Zealand's James Oram and Britain's Tao Geoghegan Hart, who has placed twice on the podium at Under 23 Paris-Roubaix and Leige-Bastogne-Leige classic races.
Both Hincapie and Axeon teams are pre-dominantly 19 to 23 year-olds and have become feeders to the big World Tour teams like BMC, Trek, Cannondale-Garmin and Tinkoff-Saxo, which are all in the race.
"We have a lot of good up and coming guys, for sure," said Axeon General Manager Axel Merckx, a master at recruiting young talent. "These guys aren't afraid of anyone."
Added Hincapie Racing's Director Thomas Craven, "Our guys like to go fast. We have a 'Go For It' mentality. It's kind of the way we race."
For a complete roster listing, go to: http://prochallenge.com/the-competition/mens-teams
About the USA Pro Challenge
Referred to as "America's Race," the USA Pro Challenge will take place August 17-23, 2015. 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. The inaugural Women's USA Pro Challenge is a three-day invitation-only event and will kick off in Breckenridge on August 21st and conclude in Golden on August 23rd. One of the largest cycling events in U.S. history and the largest spectator event in the history of the state, the USA Pro Challenge is back for 2015. Featuring a challenging course, the fifth annual race will spotlight the best of the best in professional cycling and some of America's most beautiful scenery.
SOURCE USA Pro Challenge