Cadel Evans commits to Colorado race

DENVER -- Tour de France champion Cadel Evans is going to Colorado to compete in the inaugural USA Pro Cycling Challenge next month, the race's chairman told The Associated Press.

Organizers are also hoping that the second- and third-place finishers, Luxembourg brothers Frank and Andy Schleck of Leopard-Trek, will join Evans and the 125 other riders in the 500-mile test through mountain and metro roads.

That would mark the first time the 1-2-3 finishers in Paris competed in an American bike race.

Last weekend, the 34-year-old Evans became the first Australian to win the Tour, and his commitment gives the Colorado race a marquee draw for spectators and the national and international television audiences. The race is expected to be broadcast to more than 100 countries and territories.

"It's huge. It's a great moment of truth for our race and it's a great thing for American cycling," Shawn Hunter, race CEO and co-chairman, said of Evans' commitment.

Evans is a member of American-based cycling team BMC, one of 16 eight-man teams that will participate in the race, Colorado's first on the pro cycling circuit since the Coors International Bicycle Classic ended its run in 1988.

Teams will announce their rosters next week, and Hunter said the Schleck brothers would make for "a world-class field for a first-year race. The yellow jersey and the second- and third-place finishers, it would be unprecedented."

"But regardless of what happens, having the yellow jersey is great for American cycling, and it will bring a lot of attention to our race," Hunter said.

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which starts Aug. 22, will feature the two highest climbs in competitive international cycling history on the same stage on the third day, something the International Cycling Union had to sign off on.

The race through Colorado's front range and the picturesque Rocky Mountains begins with an ultra-fast prologue in which riders will descend from the Garden of the Gods at 50-plus mph and into Colorado Springs. The race ends in downtown Denver on Aug. 28.