I found out this past week that there’s a good reason The Tour of Utah has been called “America’s toughest stage race”. After a couple of fairly disappointing days earlier in the week I was determined to try and finish the race with some solid performances. On Friday evening the time trial was held at the Toole motor speedway which was actually pretty cool as it’s a brand new multi million dollar facility. The course was a super smooth and fast 9.2 miles with plenty of turns which definitely made it a little more challenging. I raced as hard as I could and still finished about 1:40 off of Taylor Phinney the winner. I ‘m really not into time trialing but man it’s really impressive watching that guy, I’m pretty sure we’ll see him on The Tour de France podium one day.
The following night was the newest addition to the race which was the Park City Crit. It was a roughly 1 mile course with 150’ of climbing per lap. Everyone was a little nervous because it was clear before the race started that we were in for some serious pain. From the gun the pace was insane, literally lung sering, it was a full on drag race up the climb. Riders were getting dropped from pretty much the first lap and about 15 minutes into the race even the announcers were commenting that the pace could not stay this fast. That’s point when the pace did actually slow a bit and I caught on the front group for a few laps before some more big accelerations. Of course I did get dropped again but I was not alone as I worked in a small group just off the back of the front group with some strong guys like Paul Mach, Max Jenkins, and Mike Olhieser. When the pain was finally over I finished 37th on the day and the officials decided to institute the 1/2 race rule where if a rider got pulled before half the race was over then they did not get a finishing time and therefore were kicked out of the race. This rule eliminated another 30 riders or so from the GC.
With only about 70 of the original 145 riders who started the race remaining, the peleton was rather small the last day for what most people consider the hardest day of racing in the country. Once again from the gun the break went up the road and the pace was stupid fast. As the peleton crushed the rollers leaving Park City at wattage in the 450 range the break only gained about 1 minute. We pretty much hauled ass through the rolling terrain before the first big climb which came at about mile 55. As soon as we hit the bottom of the Sundance climb the race exploded with Levi, Mancebo, and Lill pushing the pace up the climb to catch the break. By about 1/3 up the climb we had brought back all but about 4 of the guys in the break and I was starting to feel the effects but I was trying to hang tough. However, by the last 1/4 of the climb I couldn’t handle the accelerations and got dropped into the team cars and went over the top alone. The rest of the day I pretty much was riding either alone or in small groups off the back of the peleton until just before the base of the big Snowbird climb where I got caught by Jesse Moore’s group. We rode a tempo effort up the climb with hundreds of people cheering us on. Even though I was cracked I really enjoyed all the fan support and I was able to reflect on the whole experience as being one of the coolest and most challenging of my life. As we rolled across the finish about 15:00 minutes back from the leaders I was stoked to get off the bike and felt a relative sense of accomplishment for actually completing the race and finishing in 51st place in the GC.