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2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge Course Route Released; 683-Miles Over 7 Days From Durango To Denver (MAPS, VIDEO)

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Though the rough 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge course map was leaked in early December, the leak provided only a list of host cities, not the race's exact route. And if there's one thing we learned from the Traveling Salesman Problem, it's that we have embarrassingly poor math skills, and there could be any number of routes between the cities. Thankfully, race officials released the route details April 4, sparing us the difficulty of math.

“In determining the route for the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge, we wanted to showcase as much of the Rocky Mountains state as possible, while creating a challenging course for the riders that would provide ideal viewing locations for spectators,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, in a press release. “This year, the route will take the riders through more mountain passes than any other race of its kind, with five topping out at a minimum of 10,000 ft.”

Host cities and dates:
Stage 1, Aug. 20: Durango to Telluride
Stage 2, Aug. 21: Montrose to Mt. Crested Butte
Stage 3, Aug. 22: Gunnison to Aspen
Stage 4, Aug. 23: Aspen to Beaver Creek
Stage 5, Aug. 24: Breckenridge to Colorado Springs
Stage 6, Aug. 25: Golden to Boulder (finish on Flagstaff Mountain)
Stage 7, Aug. 26: Denver (time trial)

The approximately 683-mile route will climb nine mountain passes, five of which are over 10,000 feet, writes the Denver Post. Organizers have done away with the 2011 course's opening prologue in Colorado Springs, opting instead for a route over Lizard Head Pass into Telluride. However the 2011 'Queen's Stage' from Gunnison to Aspen over Independence Pass will remain a fixture.

According to Cycling News, organizers are seeking to "bring the ... drama home" by placing the time trial in Denver as a last stage. The late time trial leaves potential for racers to recover lost time or build on a lead until the very end.

WATCH stage overviews and LOOK at maps of each stage:

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