USA Pro Challenge Ends in Denver. Will It Be Back In 2016?

August 24, 2015
Rohan Dennis Celebrates
Australian Rohan Dennis celebrates his win of the USA Pro Challenge with champagne Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015.

2015 USA Pro Challenge celebrated with champagne in front of thousands of people in downtown Denver. Australian Rohan Dennis was the overall winner. At Sunday's awards presentation he was on the podium multiple times for various accolades, including being part of the best overall team, which went to BMC Racing.

The BMC team celebrated with more champagne and Dennis said afterwards, one of his teammates accidentally bumped his head when he was taking a drink, and broke his front tooth. "It adds character" said Dennis "And it's a good story." Despite that, Dennis said it's special to be the first non-American to win the Challenge. "Hopefully I can come back next year and do it again." 

But whether there will be a sixth USA Pro Challenge is a question. The Denver Post reported this weekend that Challenge organizers don't have a title sponsor: 

The Pro Challenge, though, has an additional obstacle to overcome in its quest for a big-money sponsor: the race's owners, the deep-pocketed but lawsuit-plagued father-son team of Richard and Rick Schaden, who insiders say need to let it go.

"I think it might be appropriate to hand it off," said Ken Gart, the powerful Denver businessman who serves as volunteer bike czar for Gov. John Hickenlooper, tasked with growing the state's network of trails and fostering its bike culture. 

Shawn Hunter CEO of pro challenge
USA Pro Challenge CEO Shawn Hunter, pictured at right, says he can't say whether the Challenge will return in 2016. Here he is on Aug. 23, 2015.

The Challenge historically announces the cities the race will go through in late November or early December "and that would certainly be my goal to do that again for 2016," explained Hunter. 

Kristin Armstrong wins the inaugural USA Pro Challenge women's race
Kristin Armstrong of Boise, Idaho won the inaugural USA Pro Challenge women's race. The three-day event ended Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015 in downtown Golden with a circuit race. 

For Boulder-based cyclist Mara Abbott, racing the inaugural event was a privilege. "All this week I've been jumping out of my skin with excitement. I'm really connected to my roots more than a lot of people are, and so much of who I am was formed here."

Mara Abbott
Boulder professional racer Mara Abbott takes the Queen of the Mountain overall jersey at the inaugural women's race, Aug. 23, 2015.

Abbott says she'd like to see the women's race return next year, but she wants to see more stages added to be on par with the men's race.