Cycling is one of those rare sports where spectators are not confined to their seats. Instead, cycling fans cheer an arm's length distance from the action, which often includes a water bottle to the forehead, front-row seat to a crash, or a wind-blown hair-do after the peloton flies by. The 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge will offer plenty of these moments during the race's 625-mile route, which starts in Durango and ends with the time trial in downtown Denver. Even if you can only make a stage or two, we asked USA Pro Cycling Challenge officials where to watch.
Stage One: Durango to Telluride
Stay in Durango on Monday. After watching five miles worth of laps in town, you'll see the racers coming off the first sprint line of the tour before they make their way to Telluride. Bonus: Race Day Start Festival begins at 7 a.m. and includes the opening ceremonies.
Stage Two: Montrose to Crested Butte
Dress in costume and bring a noisemaker to either the Cerro summit or Blue Mesa summit to stand roadside as racers take on these climbs. These should be less crowded than Independence Pass (Stage Three).
Stage Three: Gunnison to Aspen
Head down into Aspen for the finish of the Queen's stage. The riders are likely to be exhausted after Independence Pass. Bonus: In Aspen, catch a flick at the MountainSummit MountainFilm festival (August 23 to 26).
Stage Four: Aspen to Beaver Creek
Two major climbs bookend this stage, but stake a seat right in middle at the Leadville sprint line as the riders position themselves before the stage's Beaver Creek finish line.
Stage Five: Breckenridge to Colorado Springs
The majority of this stage is downhill and fast. Find a spot in the red rocks of the Garden of the Gods to watch the riders in the final push to Colorado Springs.
Stage Six: Golden to Boulder
Get to Boulder Canyon early to save a piece of real estate for the climb up Flagstaff Mountain. Bonus: Stop in at the Nederland Music and Arts Festival after the race for some tunes and bike-love camaraderie.
Stage Seven: Denver (Time Trial)
Check back in next week for our list of the best places to watch the race finish in Denver.
—Image courtesy of Shutterstock
Follow editorial assistant Lindsey R. McKissick on Twitter at @LindseyRMcK.