Tour of Utah 2015 – Overall Preview – Ciclismo Internacional

Tour of Utah 2015 – Overall Preview

By David Hunter

Racing returns to America, for the hardest race in the calendar. The Tour of Utah, prides itself in being much harder than all other American stage races, and it is! This year, they’ve decided to make it even harder. Instead on relying upon the same old stages, the organisers have thrown in some new, steep slopes. This makes the race even more selective and should provide us with exciting racing.

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The opening stage is fairly easy. It’s good news for the sprinters, despite a couple of climbs. They quick men need to take advantage of this stage, as they won’t have too many opportunities.

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Stage 2 features our first challenging climb, with a 10% average gradient. It comes with 30km to go, so it shouldn’t see any big moves. The “tough” sprinters will hope to hang on.

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Stage 3 ends with a lap circuit, and the climb up 400 North. The riders have to complete the lap twice and it will be too hard for the quick men. It looks like a perfect opportunity for a late attacker.

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Stage 4 features the cat 2 climb, Wolf Creek Pass. This is a tough climb but crests with more than 60km to go. It will give a chance for dropped riders to rejoin the peloton on the long descent.

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Stage 5 is a lap circuit. It’s not any old lap circuit, as it features a climb with a 20% ramp. The riders have to complete this lap on 7 occasions. This stage could see some GC movement, the climb is hard enough.

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Stage 6 is the traditional Queen stage with the climb to Snowbird Ski Resort. Most fans will be very familiar with this stage and the brutal climb. It’s the battle of the strongest and this usually determines the winner of the race.

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Stage 7 is the final stage. Most races end with a nice, easy day. The Tour of Utah is not like most races! They have thrown in a 10km/10% climb, with several 20% ramps. This crests with under 10km to go. I like their thinking, but the best rider on Snowbird, will probably be the best rider here.

Contenders

This race is normally a battle between Tom Danielson and Chris Horner. Now aged 37 and 43, these boys show no sign of fading, especially in this race.

You all know Tommy D? Part of Lance’s crew at Discovery and banned for past doping offences in 2012. Still loved by most American cycling fans and holds many records for climbs in the country.

What about Horner? The oldest winner of a GT, at 41, but then struggled to get a contract. Pulled by Lampre before the 2014 Vuelta, due to low cortisol levels. This was due to his use of cortisone to help with bronchitis, of course he had a TUE! Horner has refused to talk about drug use by his former teammates and claims to have not seen anything, during the bad old days. He was teammates with Lance at Astana and RadioShack.

American cycling fans must be delighted to see these two riders continue to dominate their hardest race. Hopefully, 2015, brings a change. Sadly, there is a lack of climbing talent in the field. We do have good riders like Bookwalter, Brenes, Jaramillo, Busche, Norris, Woods and Britton. In reality, these boys are solid riders but not capable of challenging Tommy D and Horner.

Hope lies in the Italians! Bardiani arrive for their race debut. They bring with them, their talented group of young climbers. The best of these riders is Bongiorno and Zardini. Both are exceptionally talented and capable of big results. You might remember Bongiorno from the 2014 Giro. He was the rider pushed off his bike, on Monte Zoncolan. Zardini has already won some big stages, in the Tour of Britain and Giro del Trentino. They provide a double attack and are known for timing their attacks well. Zardini usually goes from far out, Bongiorno attacks later. Both Zardini’s wins came from attacks at the very beginning of climbs. Do not give him an inch!

The Italians will not only be looking for the mountains, but also have Sonny Colbrelli for the sprint stages. He’s not enjoyed a great 2015, but remember how good he was towards the end of 2014.

The Americans will be worried, as Caja Rural kicked their butt in Philly and wiped the Canadians in Tour de Beauce, they won’t be wanting a repeat from the Italians! The American teams are not keen on “small” European teams, showing them up.

The race also marks the return of Taylor Phinney and Peter Stetina. Both suffered very bad injuries, from crashes. It’s great to see them back in action.

Prediction Time

Can’t really see anything else than a Danielson victory. Hopefully the Bardiani boys can surprise.

David Hunter

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