Move over Tour de France! The USA Pro Cycling Challenge comes to Colorado. Starting August 18, sixteen of the world’s best cycling teams will climb the Rocky Mountains traveling through nine mountain towns and ending in downtown Denver, August 24. Last year’s winner, Tejay Van Garderen, who trains in Boulder and placed fifth in the Tour de France, will lead the BMC Racing Team. Can he win again?
While the race starts in Aspen and winds through many of our favorite mountain towns, like Crested Butte, Gunnison and Breckenridge, we here at Drink Denver are focusing on the final stage of the race, Stage 7 on Sunday, August 24. This final stage starts in Boulder, rides through Golden, including a 4-mile climb up Lookout Mountain, and after a lap around City Park, ends in Civic Center Park. Here is a Drink Denver rundown was where to enjoy the action with a brew in hand.
Starter’s Lounge/Founders Box: For the true cycling enthusiast, consider shelling out some serious dough for the VIP Hospitality Tents located in both Boulder and Denver. In Boulder join the Starter’s Lounge on 18th and Pearl Streets. The Starter’s Lounge opens at 10:30 AM and the riders will arrive around 11 AM. In Denver the Founders Box officially opens at 1 PM on race day where fans can enjoy the race in a cool VIP tent with live streaming race video, a delicious buffet of gourmet food and an open bar with wine and beer (Sierra Nevada Brewery is the official beer sponsor of the Challenge), not to mention VIP-only restrooms. The Starter’s Lounge passes are $125 per person and $100 for those in groups of 20 or more. Founders Box passes are $350 per person or $280 for groups of 20 or more. Starter’s Lounges and Founders Boxes are available at both the beginning and ending cities for each stage. Purchase tickets and find more information at the Pro Challenge website. (18th and Pearl St., Boulder; Civic Center Park, Denver)
Race Festival: For those who don’t need the VIP treatment, just head to the Start and Finish Festivals in each city featuring live entertainment, food, music and jumbo screens with live race action. The end festival is also where the award ceremony happens. Adults can enjoy the beer and wine garden. Did we mention Sierra Nevada is the official beer sponsor? Good. Entry is free, but you do have to pay for the food and drinks. (18th and Pearl St., Boulder; Civic Center Park, Denver)
Rocky Flats Lounge: Stake a claim in the parking lot of the infamous Rocky Flats Lounge on Highway 93 along the race route. This roadside dive bar is perfect for watching the riders fly by in the afternoon before heading inside the bar for happy hour. The trails around the bar are great for bike riding as well, for those who want to get into the spirit. (11229 Highway 93, Boulder; 303-499-4242)
Mountain Toad Brewing: The race heads through downtown Golden on Washington Avenue so really any bar on Main Street will do, but we suggest you hang with the gang at Mountain Toad Brewing. Not only are the beers tasty, the crowd is heavily into cycling and knows the difference between a criterium and a randonnee. Ride your bike to the brewery to avoid parking and congestion. (900 Washington Ave., Golden; 720-638-3244)
Wrigley’s Chicago Bar: The race doesn’t quite pass in front of the outdoor deck at Wrigley’s in Golden, but it’s less than half a block away. Set up some camping chairs at the fork in the road at Highway 40 (Colfax Avenue) and Highway 93 (Heritage Road) to watch the riders after their descent from Lookout Mountain. Then head over to Wrigley’s for traditional Chicago-style eats such as hand-tossed pizza and Chicago-style hot dogs. (18200 W. Colfax Ave., Golden; 303-277-1551)
Hogshead Brewery: Enjoy a proper pint as the race goes by on 29th Avenue in the Slo-Hi area. Although the building is tiny, there should be ample seating outside if you arrive early enough. British expat Steven Kirby creates cask-conditioned English-style ales. The Pride of Philly Cheesesteak Truck will be on hand during the afternoon to fill you up as well. (4460 W. 29th Ave.; 303-495-3105)
For those who can’t make it to Denver, an easy option is to head to a favorite sports bar or just grab a six-pack or a special bottle of vino and stay home. NBC Sports Network and NBC will provide daily coverage of all seven stages including four hours of live coverage for the final stage.
Photo via Pro Challenge
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