By Jared Eborn
They say everything in life is cyclical and professional cycling in Utah is no exception. After a few years of fairly strong representation in the professional peloton, the Beehive State’s numbers are lower than in recent seasons.
Some pros – such a Salt Lake City native Dave Zabriskie – retired, others (Jamis-Hagens Berman’s Jamey Driscoll) opted to shift focus from road to cyclocross and others found themselves without a team to ride for after some teams folded or consolidated and left numerous riders across the country without a job.
For the first time in years, Utah is not represented on any UCI Pro Tour teams.
Still, Utah is producing its share of professionals.
Here’s a look at the pro and domestic elite riders with Utah ties you can look for as the professional road cycling heats up.
UCI Pro Continental
Jeffy Louder – United Healthcare. Louder is now the seasoned veteran of Utah’s pro lineup. UHC will send racers to pretty much every race on the National Racing Calendar and USA Crit series as well as a handful of targeted Pro Tour races in Europe including some of the big spring classics races. Louder, a veteran who finds himself in frequent breakaways, will also be a featured rider in the Tour of Utah where he is always a threat to win a stage or land on the podium.
Cortlan Brown – Astellas Cycling Team. Brown, a former collegiate national champion, is entering his second year with the Astellas Cycling Team and will be racing in NRC and top caliber races in the U.S. with a focus on races in the western half of the U.S.
Tanner Putt and Chris Putt – Bissell Development Team. Certain to be a tandem to reckon with at races across the country, the Putt brothers wear the same kit for the first time since racing as juniors on the Park City-based Cole Sports squad. Tanner is the reigning U.S. U23 national champion with a solid all-around skillset while Chris is a youngster called up to the pros after spending 2013 with Canyon Bicycles-Shimano. Chris is a strong climber who uses the fitness built from years as a competitive Nordic skier to his advantage. The duo is slated to represent the Bissell Development team throughout the season with personal goals of contending for the best young rider jersey in the Tour of Utah.
Rob Squire – Jamis-Hagens Berman. Sandy’s mountain biker turned road pro joins the veteran Jamis-Hagens Berman squad after a few years battling injuries and European pelotons.
Women’s Pro Teams
Tayler Wiles – Specialized-LuluLemon. Wiles, a Murray High graduate and current resident of Northern California, enters her second season with Specialized LuluLemon and is among the most popular riders in the women’s field. A strong time trial racer and all-around competitor, Wiles recently captured an overall podium spot in the San Dimas Stage Race and wore the green sprinters jersey.
Utah is well represented in the Domestic Elite peloton and is home base to men’s and women’s teams which will line up to race at NRC and other top races across the country.
Canyon Bicycles – Shimano. A fixture in Utah races, Canyon Bicycles will again field an elite team with an eye on podiums and victories in races across the west. Riders include a handful of racers from Idaho, California and other states with a Utah roster that includes Mitchell Peterson, Logan Phippen, Tyler Riedesel, Joe Waters, Mike Wilcox and Bryce Young.
California Giant/Specialized. Though not a Utahn, Pocatello, Idaho’s Colin Joyce developed as a cyclist racing in Utah Cycling Association events.
Women’s Domestic Elite
DNA Cycling – K4 Racing powered by Blendtec. Utah’s leading women’s team is determined to make a name for itself locally and across the nation. Led by team founder Kemille King, DNA-K4 features a lineup that has sprinters, climbers and all-around threats for all types of races. Look for Keri Gibson, Megan Hill, Catherine Kim, Breanne Nalder, Chantel Olsen, Anne Perry, Amy Thornquist, and Kelsey Withrow to light up the roads.