World’s Top Professional Cyclists Confirmed for 2012 USA Pro Challenge

Photo: Crested Butte Mountain Resort/Robb Pennie

Tour de France Winners and World Champions Set to Compete in America’s Toughest Cycling Race;  Stage 2 (August 21) finishes Mt. Crested Butte, sprint in Crested Butte

Marking one of the best fields ever assembled on American soil for a professional cycling race, the provisional team rosters* for the 2012 USA Pro Challenge have been confirmed. Taking place August 20-26, the race will travel through 12 host cities, taking riders and fans on a scenic tour through the Colorado Rockies. Emphasizing the competitive level of the field, the race will include six of the top 13 finishers from this year’s Tour de France:

  • Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) of Liquigas-Cannondale
  • Tejay Van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing
  • Cadel Evans (AUS) of BMC Racing Team
  • Janez Brajkovic (SLO) from Astana Pro Team
  • and RadioShack-Nissan-Trek riders Andreas Kloden (GER) and Chris Horner (USA)

Plus, last year’s winner Levi Leipheimer of Omega Pharma-QuickStep (BEL) returning to defend hos title albeit with a different team!

While the USA Pro Challenge parcours is considered tougher than its 2011 inaugural edition, with likely only one stage for the sprinters and more than 42,000 feet (12,800m) of climbing over its 682.7 mile (1,098.7km) parcours, the general classification contenders expect the final yellow jersey will be decided by a mere handful of seconds.

In 2011 Levi Leipheimer beat runner-up Christian Vande Velde by 11 seconds overall, with Tejay van Garderen taking third at 17 seconds. Speaking at the pre-race press conference on the Fort Lewis College campus in Durango, defending champion Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quickstep) expected a similar GC scenario this year.

“It’s going to be difficult because there’s not a lot of opportunities to gain time, but there’s a lot of opportunities to lose time,” said Leipheimer. “You need a strong team and clearly BMC and Garmin have brought strong teams. We have the utmost respect for everybody in this race.”

Christian Vande Velde admitted to being caught off guard on the opening road stage of the 2011 edition, where Levi Leipheimer prevailed on the punchy final climb to Mt. Crested Butte, and stated that’s it’s all about maintaining consistency throughout the upcoming seven stages.

“I think it’s going to be nickel and dimes all throughout the week,” said Vande Velde. “Like Levi said, you’re not going to gain a lot of time but you can lose a lot of time. Levi took all of his time out of me on that first day last year in Crested Butte and that was game, set and match right there. It was unexpected and we thought it would be different. There was a brutal time trial to Vail Pass and we were only separated by a five tenths of a second.

“The talented group of international and domestic cycling stars set to participate in the 2012 USA Pro Challenge is a testament to the growing stature of the race,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the Pro Challenge. “With Olympic medalists and Tour de France champions battling it out in the Rockies, this field is one of the best that has ever competed on American soil. The competitive level of this field is going to make for seven days of nonstop action; it’s going to be one great week of cycling.”

The USA Pro Challenge will include 10 of the top 12 finishers from last year, including the top 5. Also featured will be Taylor Phinney (USA) of BMC Racing Team who recently secured two fourth place finishes at the London Olympics. Three of the past four USPRO National Champions in road race (Tim Duggan – 2012, Ben King – 2010, George Hincapie – 2009) will line up in Colorado, as well as two former Giro d’Italia winners – Ivan Basso (ITA) and Vincenzo Nibali (ITA) of Liquigas-Cannondale.

The elite professional roster of teams, which includes 126 riders from 24 countries, is comprised of six teams that competed in the Tour de France, five Pro Continental teams and five Continental teams. Following is the preliminary complete list of riders that will be competing in the 2012 USA Pro Challenge.

*Team rosters are subject to change

UCI ProTeams

1. Astana Pro Team (KAZ)

Janez Brajkovic (SLO)
Sergey Renev (KAZ)
Tanel Kangert (EST)
Robert Kiserlovski (CRO)
Dimitriy Muravyev (KAZ)
Yevgeniy Nepomnyachshiy (KAZ)
Evgeny Petrov (RUS)
Fabio Aru (ITA)

2. BMC Racing Team (USA)

Cadel Evans (AUS)
Mathias Frank (SUI)
Ivan Santaromita (ITA)
Michael Schär (SUI)
Johann Tschopp (SUI)
Taylor Phinney (USA)
George Hincapie (USA)
Tejay Van Garderen (USA)

3. Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda (USA)

Thomas Danielson (USA)
Tyler Farrar (USA)
Nathan Haas (AUS)
Alex Howes (USA)
Peter Stetina (USA)
Christian Vandevelde (USA)
David Zabriskie (USA)
Lachlan David Morton (AUS)

4. Liquigas-Cannondale (ITA)

Timothy Duggan (USA)
Valerio Agnoli (ITA)
Damiano Caruso (ITA)
Edward King (USA)
Paolo Longo Borghini (ITA)
Vincenzo Nibali (ITA)
Ivan Basso (ITA)
Moreno Moser (ITA)

5. Omega Pharma-QuickStep (BEL)

Levi Leipheimer (USA)
Martin Velits (SVK)
Peter Velits (SVK)
Matt Brammeier (IRL)
Jeroen Hoorne (BEL)
Francesco Chicchi (ITA)

6. RadioShack-Nissan-Trek (LUX)

Christopher Horner (USA)
Jakob Fuglsang (DEN)
Andy Schleck (LUX)
Benjamin King (USA)
Andreas Kloden (GER)
Thomas Rohregger (AUT)
Jens Voigt (GER)
Oliver Zaugg (SUI)

UCI Professional Continental Teams

7. Champion System Pro Cycling Team (CHN)

Craig Lewis (USA)
Chris Butler (USA)
Matthias Friedmann (GER)
Pengda Jiao (CHN)
Biao Liu (CHN)
Aaron Kemps (AUS)
Cameron Wurf (AUS)
Gang Xu (CHN)

8. RusVelo (RUS)

Matvey Zubov (RUS)
Ivan Rovny (RUS)
Dmitry Kozontchuk (RUS)
Artem Ovechkin (RUS)
Sergey Firsanov (RUS)
Arkimedes Arguelyes Rodriges (RUS)
Alexander Mironov (RUS)
Sergey Klimov (RUS)

9. Team SpiderTech powered by C10 (CAN)

David Boily (CAN)
Flavio de Luna (MEX)
Lucas Euser (USA)
Caleb Fairly (USA)
Hugo Houle (CAN)
Ryan Roth (CAN)
Zachary Bell (CAN)
Brian Vandborg (DEN)

10. Team Type 1-SANOFI (USA)

Kiel Reijnen (USA)
Alexander Efimkin (RUS)
Julien El Fares (FRA)
Javier Megias Leal (ESP)
Georg Preidler (AUT)
Rubens Bertogliati (SUI)
Alessandro Bazzana (ITA)
Daniele Colli (ITA)

11. UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA)

Rory Sutherland (AUS)
Karl Menzies (AUS)
Philip Deignan (IRL)
Robert Forster (GER)
Jacobe Keough (USA)
Benjamin Day (AUS)
Christopher Jones (USA)
Jeffry Louder (USA)

UCI Continental Teams

12. Bissell Pro Cycling (USA)
Christopher Baldwin (USA)
Jeremy Vennell (NZL)
Ben Jacques-Maynes (USA)
Carter Jones (USA)
Frank Kevin Pipp (USA)
Eric Young (USA)
Julian Kyer (USA)
Joseph Schmalz (USA)

13. Bontrager Livestrong Team (USA)

Joshua Atkins (NZL)
Charlie Avis (USA)
Lawson Craddock (USA)
Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA)
Ryan Eastman (USA)
Connor O’Leary (USA)
James Oram (NZL)
Gavin Mannion (USA)


Rafael Infantino Abreu (COL)
Giovanni Manuel Baez Alvarez (COL)
Francisco Jarley Colorado Hernandez (COL)
Ramiro Rincon Diaz (COL)
Robigzon Leandro Oyola Oyola (COL)
Freddy Orlando Piamonte Rodriguez (COL)
Eduard Alexander Beltran Suarez (COL)
Javier Eduardo Gomez Pineda (COL)

15. Optum Pro Cycling p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies (USA)

Jesse Anthony (USA)
Andrew Bajadali (USA)
Alexander Candelario (USA)
Michael Creed (USA)
Tom Zirbel (USA)
Sebastian Salas (CAN)
Marsh Cooper (CAN)
Michael Friedman (USA)

16. Team Exergy (USA)

Kirk Carlsen (USA)
Andres Diaz Corrales (COL)
Mathew Cooke (USA)
Noe Gianetti (SUI)
Morgan Schnitt (USA)
Fred Rodriguez (USA)
Serghei Tvetcov (MOL)
Sam Johnson (USA)

On Saturday, Aug. 18, the teams were introduced to fans at the official gala and team presentation, which took place in Durango on the rim of Fort Lewis College, overlooking the beautiful La Plata Mountains. Celebrity hosts Phil Liggett, Paul Sherwen and local Durango hero Bob Roll introduced the riders during an intimate dinner, giving people a chance to check out the best of the best in cycling before the start of the race.

Stages for the 2012 USA Pro Challenge include:

Stage 1: Monday, Aug. 20 – Durango to Telluride

Stage 2: Tuesday, Aug. 21 – Montrose to Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte

Stage 3: Wednesday, Aug. 22 – Gunnison to Aspen

Stage 4: Thursday, Aug. 23 – Aspen to Beaver Creek

Stage 5: Friday, Aug. 24 – Breckenridge to Colorado Springs

Stage 6: Saturday, Aug. 25 – Golden to Boulder

Stage 7: Sunday, Aug. 26 – Denver Individual Time Trial

About the USA Pro Challenge

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 as they ascend over three mountain passes, each exceeding 12,000 ft. in elevation. After attracting more than 1 million spectators in 2011, making it one of the largest cycling events in U.S. history, the USA Pro Challenge is back for 2012. Featuring a challenging, 683-mile course with more than 42,000 ft. of vertical climbing, the second annual race will spotlight the best of the best in professional cycling and some of America’s most beautiful scenery.

Referred to as “America’s Race,” the USA Pro Challenge will take place August 20-26, 2012, a week proclaimed by Governor John Hickenlooper as “Colorado Cycling Holiday,” and travel through 12 host cities from Durango to Denver. More information can be found online at and on Twitter at @USAProChallenge.

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