New pro cycling league races through Denver this weekend
A first-of-its-kind professional cycling race aimed at elevating a "gender-equal" playing field will take over Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Commerce City on Sunday.
What's happening: The National Cycling League is pitting 10 co-ed teams, including the Mile High City's very own Denver Disruptors, in a criterium-style competition for a chance to win a share of $1 million in total prize money at the end of the season.
- The inaugural competition kicked off in Miami in April and will conclude in Atlanta later in August.
Why it matters: The new league is testing out a co-ed format designed to value and pay women and men equally.
What they're saying: As the first majority-minority and female-owned sports league, "we're really changing the future of sports generally, and not just for cycling," Andrea Pagnanelli, CEO of National Cycling League, tells us.
How it works: Instead of the traditional first-to-the-finish-line-wins approach, riders earn points based on each lap. They compete separately in roughly 30, 1 mile-laps — and cyclists can substitute in and out anytime during each race's first 25 laps.
- Denver's course features a 1.2-mile, four corner loop that starts and finishes at East 59th Place and Valentia Street, at the south end of the stadium.
Of note: Denver was one of the select cities chosen to pilot the new race because one of NCL's 15 participating teams is based here, Pagnanelli says.
- The Denver Disruptors feature former Olympians and Tour de France participants from 10 countries, including two-time Olympian Leah Kirchmann, and six-time Tour de France participant Reinardt Janse van Rensburg.
- The team won the NCL's first-ever race in Miami Beach earlier this year.
If you go: Spectating is free, but VIP seating is available for $150 per ticket. Event grounds will also feature food vendors, junior races, an outdoor expo and more.
- The men's race begins at 2:30pm, and the women's kicks off at 4pm. An awards ceremony will follow at 5:30pm.
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