After a year of absence due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Copper Triangle road cycling event will celebrate its 15th anniversary at the Copper Mountain Resort on Saturday morning, August 7.
“We’re super, super excited to bring him back to the community here after a year off,” said Scott Olmsted, event director and co-founder. “We have a number of other events and we can say that people are ready to be back and ready to be back on the bike. It has been a long road, but we are delighted to be back.
Olmsted, a Denver resident, helped found the Copper Triangle as the event that made the most of Copper Mountain’s unique location in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. Rather than a timed race, Olmsted and the event’s founders believed road cyclists would enjoy the 79-mile day-long challenge of completing three iconic Colorado passes: Fremont Pass at 11,318 feet, Tennessee Pass at 10,424 feet and Vail Pass at 10,666 feet for a total elevation gain of 6,500 feet.
“It’s a challenge, but it’s an achievable challenge,” Olmsted said. “I think most runners warm up well on the way up to Fremont, then the Tennessee Pass isn’t a crazy climb. But the challenge is definitely the Vail Pass, going 50 miles and having to cross the Vail Pass. People appreciate the challenge there and feel the accomplishment after taking it on.
After crossing the Vail Pass, cyclists – who come from 43 states, Mexico and Canada this year – can enjoy the awe-inspiring descent on the Vail Pass Recreational Trail to Copper Mountain.
“And there are spectacular views of the Red Cliff Bridge,” Olmsted said. “The opinions speak for themselves. People just want to have an event where they can go out and do that kind of thing and be supported. “
Olmsted said registrations were about average for the Copper Triangle this year, with about 2,400 riders expected to leave Copper Mountain Resort on a continuous basis Saturday from 6 a.m. to 7:45 a.m.
“Everyone kind of starts out together,” Olmsted said, “but they will spread out throughout the day and go at their own pace and have a good time – stopping at aid stations and s ‘soak up the view. “
On this year’s hike, cyclists will need to ride cautiously on the main road through Vail, which is under construction. The Copper Triangle historically takes place on open roads with marked and unmarked vehicle traffic and hazards, including the steep descents and tight curves of Fremont Pass, Tennessee Pass, Battle Mountain, and Vail Pass.
This year’s event will feature a pair of Tour de France veterans with American professional cyclist Peter Stetina of Boulder and 2004 Olympic silver medalist Bobby Julich.
Stetina now races in gravel mountain bike and endurance racing after a career as a road cyclist between 2010 and 2019 for the Garmin-Sharp, BMC Racing Team and Trek-Segafredo teams. Julich was one of the top contenders for the best events in the world in the late 1990s and early 2000s, including a third place finish in the 1998 Tour de France.
“They’re both riding for the first time and they just wanted to go out and mingle with the participants,” Olmsted said.
This year’s run will once again benefit the Davis Phinney Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to funding programs, research, content and events for those affected by Parkinson’s disease.
Olmsted said Phinney, a Boulder resident, will ride himself on Saturday. Phinney is an Olympic bronze medalist and Tour de France stage winner who, from the late 1970s until his retirement from professional cycling in 1993, had more wins – 328 – than any other American cyclist. In 2000, Phinney was diagnosed with early-onset Parkinson’s disease. Each year, the foundation on his behalf reaches more than 500,000 individuals and families through online resources, events and community engagement.
“Davis is definitely a key part of Colorado cycling,” said Olmsted. “Each year, he rides according to his sensations. For a few years it has been difficult for him, but he is trying his best and wants to participate.