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Helen H. Richardson

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The High Park Fire west of Fort Collins has burned 58,046 acres and is 45 percent contained, according to fire officials. Extreme heat, low humidity and gusty, westerly winds will combine Monday to stoke the Colorado wildfires, creating difficult and even more potentially dangerous conditions for firefighters. The fire has destroyed 181 homes, making it [...]

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Created to be the most challenging race for professional cyclists in American history, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge is set to cover nearly 500 miles in Colorado.

Altitude and climbing will be themes through the entire race. After the opening- day prologue around Colorado Springs on Aug. 22, Stage 1 the next day from Salida to Crested Butte will go up 11,312-foot Monarch Pass and have a mountaintop finish atop Mt. Crested Butte.

The highlight of the race will be Stage 2 from Gunnison to Aspen on Aug. 24. Billed “the Queen’s Stage,” it will feature ascents over 12,126-foot Cottonwood Pass and 12,095-foot Independence Pass, the highest known climbs in international cycling.

On Stage 3, after the epic rides up Cottonwood and Independence, the 10-mile time trial around Vail will be primarily uphill. Stage 4 from Avon to Steamboat Springs will feature 5,000 feet in elevation change, and Stage 5 from Steamboat to Breckenridge will go over Rabbit Ears Pass.

The final day’s stage from Golden to Denver will go up Lookout Mountain , a 6.1 percent grade with 1,300 feet in elevation over 4.8 miles. However, Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge and Denver will have sprinter finishes.

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Linda and Bill Mehos of Salida, Colo., wave to the riders as they leave the small town of Salida during the first stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011. The Denver Post, Helen H. Richardson #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Fans take pictures of cyclists as they race by near the start. The Pro Cycling Challenge kicked off today August 22, 2011, with the scenic backdrop of Garden of the Gods as the start line for the prologue time trial. The time trial course went 5.2 miles or 8.3 kilometers from Ridge Road/Juniper Way and Gateway Road inside Garden of the Gods, wound it's way through Colorado City along Colorado avenue and ended in downtown Colorado Springs at Cascade Ave. The prologue is an individual time trail important for designating the order for the first road stage the next day. German rider Patrick Gretsch of team HTC Highroad won the prologue. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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The Pro Cycling Challenge kicked off today August 22, 2011, with the scenic backdrop of Garden of the Gods as the start line for the prologue time trial. The time trial course went 5.2 miles or 8.3 kilometers from Ridge Road/Juniper Way and Gateway Road inside Garden of the Gods, wound it's way through Colorado City along Colorado avenue and ended in downtown Colorado Springs at Cascade Ave. The prologue is an individual time trail important for designating the order for the first road stage the next day. German rider Patrick Gretsch of team HTC Highroad won the prologue. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Jonathon Weurth, of Colorado Springs, Colo., cheers on rider Rafael Anibal Montiel, of the Gobernacion De Antioquia team, as he makes his way up a hill on the course during the prologue of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Monday, Aug. 22, 2011, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Helen H. Richardson) TV OUT MAGS OUT #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Rider Ivan Rovny of Team Radioshack makes his way through the Garden of the Gods. The Pro Cycling Challenge kicked off today August 22, 2011, with the scenic backdrop of Garden of the Gods as the start line for the prologue time trial. The time trial course went 5.2 miles or 8.3 kilometers from Ridge Road/Juniper Way and Gateway Road inside Garden of the Gods, wound it's way through Colorado City along Colorado avenue and ended in downtown Colorado Springs at Cascade Ave. The prologue is an individual time trail important for designating the order for the first road stage the next day. German rider Patrick Gretsch of team HTC Highroad won the prologue. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Janier Acevedo, with the Gobernacion De Antioquia, makes his way up the course during the prologue of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Monday, Aug. 22, 2011, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Helen H. Richardson) #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Germany's Patrick Gretsch, of HTC-Highroad, holds flowers on the podium after winning the prologue of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Monday, Aug. 22, 2011, in Colorado Springs, Colo. (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Helen H. Richardson) #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Molly McMurray, 7, got tired of waiting for Cadel Evans to exit his trailer, so she decided to put on her shades and sit on her knees for awhile hoping to get a glimpse of her favorite rider. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Riders in the peloton make their way towards Monarch Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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RIders in the peloton make their way towards the top of Monarch Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Fans get out their cameras to get photos of the riders as they top out at the summit of Monarch Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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A rider with United HealthCare gets some energy drinks from his support vehicle along the route after having made the large descent off of Monarch Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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The large peloton heads for the top of Monarch Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Riders head to the top of Monarch Pass during the first stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011, near Monarch, Colo. The Denver Post, Helen H. Richardson #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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The large peloton heads for the top of Monarch Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radio shack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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A sign in the small town of Parlin. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radio shack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Jeremiah Ranegar, a support team member of BMC Cycling, waits ho hand out musettes, or food bags, to riders after the descent from Monarch Pass near Monarch, Colo., during the first stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011. The Denver Post, Helen H. Richardson #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Riders make their way toward Gunnison, Colo., with thunderheads looming in the distance during the first stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011. The Denver Post, Helen H. Richardson #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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The large peloton makes their way through the town of Gunnison. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Fans line the streets of Crested Butte in anticipation of the riders coming through. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Fans line the streets of Crested Butte in anticipation of the riders coming through. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 1 kicked off today August 23rd, 2011, in the small town of Salida. It wound 99.3 miles through Monarch Pass, Gunnison, Crested Butte and ended on Mount Crested Butte. Team Radioshack's Levi Leipheimer won the first stage. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Levi Leipheimer, of the United States, celebrates his victory in the first stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2011, in Crested Butte, Colo. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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3 year old Stephanie Harvey gets a little extra attention from Tour De France winner and Team BMC rider Cadel Evans, right. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. At 12126 feet, Cottonwood Pass is the highest climb of the race. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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The peloton makes it's way out of Gunnison early this morning. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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The peloton winds it's way through valleys before heading towards Cottonwood Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. At 12126 feet, Cottonwood Pass is the highest climb of the race. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Riders in the peloton jockey for position early in the second stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge near Gunnison, Colo., Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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The peloton makes it's way towards Cottonwood Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Daniel Navarro, left, with Saxo Bank Sungard, and Francois Parisien, of Team Spidertech, in front, are seen on their way towards Cottonwood Pass. Cottonwood Pass was the higher of the two passes at 12,126 feet. Independence Pass is 12,095 feet. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Riders make their way up Cottonwood Pass during the second stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011, northeast of Gunnison, Colo. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team Bissell Pro Cycling rider Ben Jacques-Maynes, #128 and Jelly Belly Cycling Team rider William Dickeson, #144 check out Taylor Park reservoir on their towards Cottonwood Pass. Behind them is BMC rider Cadel Evans, winner of the Tour De France. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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The peloton makes it's way to the top of The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Cottonwood Pass, At 12126 feet it was the highest summit of the race. Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. This was the Queen Stage of the race. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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From left to right: Sander Oostlander, #104 with Team SKIL-Shimano, Andre Steensen, #61 with Saxo Bank Sungard, Danny Pate, #44, with HTC-Highroad, and Rafael Montiel, #155 with Gobernacion De Antioquia, make their way up the dirt road of Cottonwood Pass. They were part of the break away pack. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. At 12,126 feet, Cottonwood Pass is the highest climb of the race. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Riders in the peloton get near the summit of Cottonwood Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Riders in the peloton get near the summit of Cottonwood Pass northeast of Gunnison, Colo., during the second stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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The peloton makes it's way up Independence Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Huge crowds await the riders at the top of Independence Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team Garmin-Cervelo rider Christian Vande Velde, #36, Team HTC-Highroad rider Tejay Van Garderen, #41, and leader Levii Leipheimer, of Team Radioshack top out on Independence Pass. Independence Pass is at an elevation of 12,095 feet. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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The peloton heads towards Independence Pass which tops out at an elevation of 12,095 . The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. At 12,126 feet, Cottonwood Pass is the highest climb of the race. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team RadioShack riders from left to right Jason McCartney, #16 and Dmitiry Muravyev, #12, and Bjorn Selander, #18, look towards the looming high peak of Independence Pass that await them on their ride as they pass Twin Lakes. Independence Pass tops out at 12,095 feet. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. At 12126 feet, Cottonwood Pass is the highest climb of the race. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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BMC Racing team's George Hincapie celebrates his win in Stage 2 as he comes to the finish line in Aspen. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Tour de France winner Cadel Evans, middle, congratulates BMC Racing teammate George Hincapie, right, on his win in the second stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2011, in Aspen, Colo. At left is Jeff Louder. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Stage 2 winner George Hincapie, ot Team BMC gets the traditional double cheek kiss from the lovely ladies on the podium. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 2 kicked off today August 24th, 2011, in the small town of Gunnison, Colorado. This was the longest stage race of the entire race with the highest elevation gain. The course went over Cottonwood Pass thru Buena Vista and up and over Independence Pass and ended in downtown Aspen, Colorado. The entire race was 130.3 miles. At 12,126 feet, Cottonwood Pass is the highest climb of the race. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team Radioshack rider Levi Leipheimer, wearing the green jersey for being the fastest sprinter yesterday, makes his way up the course as fans scream and yell encouragement for him. Leipheimer won the race in 25 minutes 47.08 seconds giving him today's yellow jersey. This is his second stage win of the race. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass, today August 25, 2011. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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HTC-Highroad rider Danny Pate makes his way out of the stating gates. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Leopard Trek rider Jens Voigt tries to concentrate while crazy fans scream and shout as he makes his through the throngs of fans around the 5km mark of the race. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team Radioshack rider George Bennett heads towards Vail Pass with his number upside down. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team Garmin-Cervelo rider Danny Summerhill, #38 makes his way up the course as fans scream and yell encouragement for him. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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HTC-Highroad rider Craig Lewis rounds the first corner out of the starting gates in the time trail that began in downtown Vail. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team Garmin-Cervelo rider Daniel Lloyd gets ready to round the last corner before leaving downtown Vail heading towards Vail Pass on the beginning of the Stage 3 time trial race. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Crazy fan Tyler Chapman screams and yells words of encouragment to Liquigas-Cannondale rider Edward King as he runs along side him as King makes his way up a steep portion of the hill climb up Vail Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team Gobernacion De Antioquia rider Alejandro Ramirez Calderon heads towards Vail Pass during stage 3. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Crazy fans yell encouragement to Team Type 1 rider Alexander Efimkin as he makes his way up a steep portion of the hill climb up Vail Pass. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team HTC-Highroad rider Tejay Van Garderen, wearing the overall winners yellow jersey makes his way up the course as fans scream and yell encouragement for him. Van Garderen came in 6th overall with a time of 26 minutes 38.26 seconds. Leipheimer won the race in 25 minutes 47.08 seconds giving him today's yellow jersey. This is his second stage win of the race. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass, today August 25, 2011. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

 Pro Cycling Challenge 2011

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Team Garmin-Cervelo rider Christian Vande Velde raises his hands in the air while holding a new pair of skis on the podium. He came in second in today's time trail with a time of 25 minutes 47.66 seconds. Team Radioshack rider Levi Leipheimer won today's time trial in 25 minutes 47.08 seconds giving him today's yellow jersey. This is his second stage win of the race. The Pro Cycling Challenge's stage 3 was a 10 mile time trial that sent riders up Vail Pass, today August 25, 2011. Levi Leipheimer won today's stage giving him the yellow jersey for the second time in the race. Photo by Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

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The gates were up, training facilities were open and NFL players went back to work.

Now, they need to get ready for the season in a hurry.

After a lockout that lasted 4½ months ended Monday July 25, 2011 with an agreement between the NFL and its players, teams’ facilities were buzzing with activity. Players all around the league were allowed back in to meet with coaches, work out, take physicals and receive playbooks.

Teams were also allowed to sign their drafted players and undrafted free agents, and negotiate with free agents in what will likely be a flurry of activity unlike what the league has ever seen.

Broncos owner Pat Bowlen​ issued a statement Monday afternoon thanking fans for their patience throughout the duration of the lockout. “Although the offseason was unsettling for everyone, this agreement will ensure the continued growth and prosperity of this league well into the future,” said Bowlen, co-chair of the league’s Management Council Executive Committee. “I am thrilled that it is finally time to turn our attention back to the game that all of us love.”

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Cincinnati Bengals safety Rico Murray puts on his helmet at the start of their second practice at NFL football training camp, Sunday, July 31, 2011, in Georgetown, Ky. (AP Photo/Al Behrman) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Employees and volunteers for the Miami Dolphins, including one dressed as former coach Don Shula, stand on a downtown Miami street corner Monday, July 25, 2011. NFL players voted to OK a final deal Monday, days after the owners approved a tentative agreement, and the sides finally managed to put an end to the 4Ë -month lockout, the longest work stoppage in league history. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady throws during NFL football training camp in Foxborough, Mass., Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Philadelphia Eagles running back Noel Devine puts his hands up to catch the ball during NFL football training camp at Lehigh University, Friday, July 29, 2011, in Bethlehem, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Detroit Lions punter Nick Harris kicks during practice at NFL football training camp in Allen Park, Mich., Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Gwynne Chapin, foreground right, hands an ice cream cone to Baltimore Ravens defensive tackle Bryan Hall (68) from her truck as his teammates wait in line for their orders following NFL football training camp Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, in Owings Mills, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Houston Texans' Mario Williams cools off during the first day of NFL football training camp Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler looks to a throw during NFL football training camp Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, at Olivet Nazarene University in Bourbonnais, Ill. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Tennessee Titans wide receiver O. J. Murdock reaches for a pass around a goal post pad during a drill at NFL football training camp on Saturday, July 30, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Houston Texans running back Steve Slaton's gloves cover his eyes while catching a pass during NFL football training camp, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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An unidentified Miami Dolphins fan waits for the start of NFL football training camp in Miami, Monday, Aug. 1, 2011. (AP Photo/J Pat Carter) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Green Bay Packers' Chastin West (11) and Green Bay Packers' Jordy Nelson catch balls during NFL football training camp Sunday, July 31, 2011, in Green Bay, Wis. (AP Photo/Morry Gash) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow (15) throws during training camp at the Denver Broncos football training facility in Englewood, Colo., on Monday, Aug. 1, 2011.(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Buffalo Bills fan Joe Hart dressed as "Superfan" walks to an NFL football training camp in Pittsford, N.Y., Sunday, July 31, 2011. (AP Photo/David Duprey) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Jorrick Calvin holds on to four balls that he caught as he watches for the next one to during a catching drill at the NFL football team's training camp at Lehigh University on Thursday, July 28, 2011, in Bethlehem, Pa. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez wipes his brow while signing autographs after an NFL football training camp in Foxborough, Mass., Sunday, July 31, 2011. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Arizona Cardinals' Larry Fitzgerald hangs on to the football during drills during afternoon practice at Cardinals NFL football training camp Sunday, July 31, 2011, in Flagstaff, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Denver Broncos Knowshon Moreno (27) gets in extra work catching passes from the jugs machine after the morning session at camp August 1, 2011 at Dove Valley. John Leyba, The Denver Post #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Tennessee Titans guard Ryan Durand knocks down a blocking dummy during NFL football training camp on Saturday, July 30, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. Watching at right is wide receiver Nate Washington (85). (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Unrestricted free agent Nick Barnett wears his Superbowl ring while talking with Buffalo Bills coaches during an NFL football training camp in Pittsford, N.Y., Sunday, July 31, 2011. (AP Photo/David Duprey) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Mary Steinkraus, from Germantown, Wis., watches the Cleveland Browns practice at the NFL football team's training camp in Berea, Ohio, Sunday, July 31, 2011. Steinkraus is the aunt of Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Oakland Raiders defensive tackle John Henderson, left, has his helmet adjusted during NFL football training camp in Napa, Calif., Saturday, July 30, 2011. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

23

Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive end Adrian Clayborn, left, and tackle Derek Hardman, right, work out for the first day in pads during NFL football training camp Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Brian Blanco) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Kansas City Chiefs fan Natalie Canon, 9, poses for a photograph by a Chiefs mannequin during the team's NFL football training camp in St Joseph, Mo., Friday, July 29, 2011. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

25

Denver Broncos quarterback Kyle Orton is all smiles as he stretches with the team during practice. The first day of Bronco's Training camp took place today July 28, 2011 at the team's headquarters at Dove Valley. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Detroit Lions receiver Rashied Davis (82) watches as teammate Stefan Logan, left, walks on his hands during a break in practice at NFL football training camp in Allen Park, Mich., Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

27

Philadelphia Eagles linebacker Keenan Clayton, left, gets a head butt and an ear full from defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, right, during the morning session of NFL football training camp at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa. on Monday, August 1, 2011. (AP Photo/Rich Schultz) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Denver Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno (27) catches a pass during training camp at the Denver Broncos football training facility in Englewood, Colo., on Monday, Aug. 1, 2011.(AP Photo/Jack Dempsey) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Denver Bronco quarterback Tim Tebow is mobbed by media after practice. The first day of Bronco's Training camp took place today July 28, 2011 at the team's headquarters at Dove Valley. Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Tennessee Titans wide receiver Kenny Britt works out during NFL football training camp Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton signs autographs after practice at the NFL football team's training camp in Spartanburg, S.C., Sunday, July 31, 2011. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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St. Louis Rams full back Brit Miller participates in a drill during NFL football training camp Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, at the team's training facility in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Washington Redskins tight end Chris Cooley removes his cleats after the NFL football team's training camp practice on Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011, in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Houston Texans wide receiver Jeff Maehl, left, is tripped up by cornerback Antwaun Molden (28) after catching a pass during the first day of their NFL football training camp Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Tennessee Titans quarterback Paul Ratliff plays with his son Johnny, 21 months, and Elle, 2, back right, after NFL football training camp Monday, Aug. 1, 2011, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey) #

NFL Back To Work After Lockout

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Houston Texans players run to a practice field during NFL football training camp, Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip) #

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