PAYSON, August 8, 2013– A valiant solo attack by Lachlan Morton (Australia) wasn’t expected to last. But the Team Garmin-Sharp rider made his move with nearly 25 miles to race and crossed the finish line alone and will wear the Larry H. Miller Dealerships yellow jersey with a thrilling victory in Stage Three presented by iON Camera in Payson.
Morton soloed away from a large chase group as the ascended Mount Nebo, the highest and southernmost peak in the Wasatch Range and part of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest, and then tracked down a two-man breakaway just before the summit.
A photo gallery of Stage 3 of the 2013 Tour of Utah by Cathy Fegan-Kim, cottonsoxphotography.com
After catching his breath, Morton burst away from all others and held off a hard-charging chase group down Payson Canyon to take control of the race in front of enthusiastic crowds in Payson, crossing the line 34 seconds ahead of BMC Racing Team’s Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium) who won the sprint for second place.
UnitedHealthcare’s Lucas Euser was third.
“When you have an opportunity like that you take it,” Morton said of his attack up Mount Nebo. “I just put my head down and went as hard as I could.”
The win gives the 21-year-old Morton a 22 second lead over Van Avermaet with Euser now sitting third, 40 seconds back.
After cresting the summit and plummeting down the canyon toward the finish line, Morton learned his lead was holding and he had a shot at the win.
“I wasn’t thinking about that at all,” Morton – who is riding the Tour of Utah with a Chicks Love Me license plate dangling from his saddle – said of taking the overall race lead. “I was just thinking about the stage win. The yellow jersey is just kind of a bonus.”
But it’s a bonus that will carry with it extra weight as the Tour of Utah heads into the state’s capitol city for a short but violent circuit race downtown.
The Ski Utah King of the Mountains jersey still belongs to Bissell Pro Cycling’s Michael Torckler and Van Avermaet is back in the XO Communications Sprint Leader ‘s jersey.
Morton is also the Subaru Best Young Rider, but the jersey will be worn by Ehtiopia’s Grmay Tsabu Gebremaryam of MTN Qhubeka.
The Vivint Most Aggressive Rider jersey was awarded to 5 Hour Energy/Kenda’s James Stemper.
Friday is Stage Four presented by University of Utah Healthcare, a 33.8 mile circuit race through the heart of Salt Lake City. The 5-lap course passes the Utah State Capitol, through Salt Lake City’s Avenues neighborhood and down South Temple Street with about 3,500 feet of total elevation gain. Stage Four will begin at 5:30 p.m. MT. The peloton is expected to finish at approximately 6:45 p.m. MT.
Top 10 – General Classification – following Stage 2 presented by Utah Office of Tourism
1. MORTON Lachlan David (AUS) Team Garmin-Sharp 13.49:07
2. VAN AVERMAET Greg (BEL) BMC Racing Team 13.49'29” 22″
3. EUSER Lucas (USA) UnitedHealthCare Pro Cycling 13.49'47” 40″
4. MACHADO Tiago (POR) RadioShack Leopard Trek 13.49'50” 43″
5. OBANDO BRENES Gregory (CRC) Champion System Pro Cycling 13.49'51” 44″
6. SCHAER Michael (SUI) BMC Racing Team 13.49'51” …
7. HORNER Christopher (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek 13.49'51” …
8. KING Benjamin (USA) RadioShack Leopard Trek 13.49'51” …
9. JONES Carter (USA) Bissell Pro Cycling 13.49'51” …
10. DAY Benjamin (AUS) UnitedHealthCare Pro Cycling 13.49'51” …
All race results are available online at www.tourofutah.com.