The Season and the Tour of Utah Wrap-up for Competitive Cyclist
August 13, 2012
A new stage awaited riders at this year’s Larry H Miller Tour of Utah, and what an incredible event it was. A tour through the scenic but gated Wolf Creek Ranch community had even local riders mystified, but that was just an hors d’oeuvre compared to the brute climb up Empire Pass that culminated this epic race. The race’s claim of being America’s Toughest Stage race may have been viewed by some as overly optimistic, but I can assure you that after today’s final stage that claim is well merited.
Our plan was to stick to the plan, something we got away from yesterday with more spontaneous racing when Paco launched earlier in the stage than we wanted. Today was all about being in the early break, preferably with our right hand man Max Jenkins, and to let Paco do his thing up Empire and hope he had recovered from a very big effort up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Snowbird yesterday.
The pace was very high from the outset as many teams shared the same tactic. Finally a group of 12 went clear which contained Competitive Cyclist’s Thomas Rabou. With top-placed man from EPM-Une sitting four minutes back, the pressure was on BMC to control and they did just that.
No changes were made up the amazing Wolf Creek Ranch climb and the break enjoyed about a two minute head start up Empire. Up front Thomas fell off the pace of the break about the same time as Paco would be trailed off the yellow jersey group — visibly in discomfort from the previous efforts.
The climb was brutal. With many pitches over 20% and 11km in length, Empire Pass from Midway has to rate this as the hardest single climb in US racing that I’ve ever seen. Think of it this way: it’s over twice as hard as Brasstown Bald from the Tour of Georgia days. UHC’s big man Rory Sutherland was putting in a tremendous ride, dropping his colleagues from the break, as Levi was doing the same to the yellow jersey group. Tschopp was doing very well with excellent teamwork to limit the damage and keep his jersey, while I followed Paco up the climb to watch him continue his early pace while most around him suffered and tailed off. Indeed, our team leader took back an impressive 1 minute on even Levi on the last 2km of climbing and the plunge into Park City, which had my Lexus of South Atlanta’s CT200h tires squealing hard to keep up.
It was not the day we were hoping for as Max suffered an untimely flat while just trailing Paco up the climb. Max was gentlemanly serviced by Optum in my absence. (Thanks for the sportsmanship Jonas!)
2012 is now over for our Team, and what an exit it was with an incredible event here in Utah. This race continues to grow and is now virtually on par with the best events in the country. We certainly appreciate the chance to race here and thank once again the organization for having confidence we could provide them some cache. I think the stage to Snowbird epitomizes our fighting spirit and talent. The Miller Automotive Group is onto something big, and we hope we can continue to witness it firsthand.
Now for me personally, my ‘director form’ is at an all-time high. I will enjoy my yearly pilgrimage to try and rekindle some ‘racer form’ while my duties slacken a touch and travel eases up. I love my vantage point from behind the wheel of professional racing and enjoy every minute and hope my scribblings have given you glimpses into this very interesting world.
Thanks for reading.
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