USA Triathlon is embarking on the Colorado relay ©USA Triathlon

Nine elite American triathletes, including the US Paratriathlon resident team, will cycle the length of the state of Colorado to raise awareness and donations for COVID-19 relief.

Some of the nation's top athletes will be joined by USA Triathlon chief executive Rocky Harris for a combined 483 miles which will start on June 19 as a 24-hour relay challenge.

It will be called "Operation CO>COVID", with "CO" referring to the state code of Colorado.

Supported by sponsor Toyota, Paratriathletes Kyle Coon, Hailey Danz, Kendall Gretsch, Allysa Seely and Melissa Stockwell will take part in the ride.

Usually, the group, which also features the injured Howie Sanborn, trains at the US Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

However, due to the pandemic, the facilities have been closed since mid-March.

The team has set a goal of $20,210 (£15,900/€17,900), in reference to the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games which will now take place in July and August of 2021.

Proceeds will be divided equally between two causes – the USA Triathlon Foundation COVID-19 Relief Fund and the Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado.

Others taking part in the cycle include Olympic hopefuls Kevin McDowell and Renée Tomlin, as well as promising 17-year-old Paratriathlete Jack O'Neil.

Elite triathlete Alex Libin will also take part as a sighted guide for Kyle Coon, who is visually impaired.

Stockwell, who won a bronze medal when Paratriathlon made its debut at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games, said: "The Tokyo postponement left us all wanting to do something to both test ourselves physically and to give back to the community.

"The idea to ride our bikes 483 miles across the state of Colorado accomplished both.

"Instead of racing in Tokyo, we will be racing the sun to finish our ride before sundown and raising money to give back to the community for COVID-19 relief.

"We look forward to completing these miles as a team and making a small difference."

Chief executive Harris added: "Our Paratriathlon resident team came up with Operation CO>COVID as a unique challenge for themselves, but more importantly, because they wanted to give back to our community during this unprecedented time.

"I am incredibly proud to ride alongside this group of individuals who, even when faced with the disappointment and uncertainty of an Olympic and Paralympic Games postponement, are still motivated to support others whose livelihoods have been threatened due to COVID-19."

The ride will see an elevation rise of nearly 23,000 feet from the Utah-Colorado state line to the Colorado-Kansas state line.

Athletes will be divided into three teams of three, with each person covering up to four different segments of three to 15 miles at a time.