Kuss Wins 2018 Tour of Utah in Tour de Force

By Lyne Lamoureux

The 14th edition of the Tour of Utah took place this year from August 6-12. The race covered 536.8 miles of Utah's most beautiful terrain. 121 racers from 20 countries came to Utah to participate in what is billed as America's Toughest Stage Race, in large part due to its mind-boggling 43,780 feet of climbing over the 7 day event. The race started with a prologue in St. George and returned to Park City for the stage 6 finale.

Cycling West presents a complete race report and a gallery of photographs from photographers Cathy Fegan-Kim (Cottonsox), Dave Richards, Steven Sheffield, and Dave Iltis.

BMC Racing Team Scorches Prologue in St. George with 1-2-3 Finish for Hot Start at Tour of Utah

American Tejay van Garderen Claims Larry H. Miller Dealerships Leader’s Jersey

The talk before the start of the 2018 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah centered around Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing Team) and his recovery from the Tour of France. Even van Garderen had no idea how his body would respond. It only took six minutes and 28 seconds to get an answer. He smashed the Prologue, and led a BMC sweep of the podium.

“I did a couple of days that were three hours after the Tour, the rest was just one-hour days and easy, pure recovery. I really had no idea how I was going to respond, especially coming into this heat, at altitude and such a violent short effort. I was stepping into the unknown but I was motivated and did my warm up routine as if I was starting any other time trial,” van Garderen said. “The legs responded well. As soon as I started pushing on the climb I knew, gauging my sensations, ‘okay this could be a good one.'”

“I have the Vuelta [a España] coming up, I have the Tour [de France] in my legs, I was thinking that after a week of recovery, I could actually start training again, starting hitting set on the power meter and cranking out efforts up the climb or I could come and help out at the Tour of Utah. I love Utah, I have a long history here. This was my first professional victory in 2011 in the TT (Time Trial) at the Tour of Utah,” commented van Garderen, who was the 117th and last rider to start the Prologue in St. George. He will wear the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Leader’s jersey on Tuesday.

“I just came here to have some fun, keep the body rolling. I told myself if there is a chance for a result, I'll take it and today was a great opportunity for that,” added van Garderen. In 2011, he finished fourth in the opening Prologue, which was held in Park City. Later that week he won the ITT on Stage 3 in Tooele, Utah.

Reigning U.S. Pro Individual Time Trial champion Joe Rosskopf finished four seconds back in second place. Tom Bohli (SUI), who sat in the hot seat for most of the day, finished in third, six seconds off the pace.

“It give us confidence for the rest of the Tour,” Rosskopf said about having Top 3 at Prologue. “We had our money on Tom Bohli, a great individual time trial specialist. Going 1-2-3 is a bonus.”

Surrounded by inspiring views of the Red Hills Desert Garden at Pioneer Park on the northern cliffs above downtown St. George, van Garderen bested 116 other riders in the opening day of racing for the weeklong stage race. Pacing was key on the out-and-back 3.3-mile (5.3 kilometer) course, where temperatures soared above 100 degrees. The riders started with a mellow climb for the first two kilometers and continued with a short downhill to the turnaround.

“We started out uphill, the roads are wide so it's deceiving the gradient was I think higher than people expected, or what it looked like,” van Garderen explained. “So you had to overpace and then try to recover a little bit on the downhill, overpace on the way out and then you're basically screaming at 75 k [kilometer] an hour all the way to the finish line. You don't want to blow up but at the same time gauge your efforts well.”

Bohli, the 15th rider to start, set the early fast time but admitted to struggling with his pacing. “It was a really, really brutal prologue. I went yesterday to look at the race [course], and it changed my plans that I made for the prologue. I [had] planned to go flat out each hill and then recover on the downhill but the downhill was very flat and you actually had to pedal there as well. I tried to pace but perhaps I overpaced at the beginning because I was missing some power in the end. It was not a technical prologue in this context, there were not a lot of corners, we didn't use TT bikes, there was one u-turn and the climb was getting pretty steep in the middle for 600 meters I believe. I came back and I was almost dying, and 20 minutes in the hot seat. My lungs, I almost coughed them out, it was so bad, my legs so much pain. I really think I didn't pace it perfectly well.”

Bohli waited and watched to see if his time would hold. He had to wait until his teammate Rosskopf, the 100th rider to start unseated him A few minutes later, van Garderen clocked the best time.

“At the first moment as Joey beat me, of course it was a bit of a deception because I was hoping I could win it today. But then, my second reaction was ‘was yeah it's Joey'. First of all I like that guy, he's a good mate and it's BMC, good for us and good for him,” Bohli said.

“Good for us as friends, and as Tejay beat us, it was also a happy moment,” he continued. “We were not all sure because the Tour de France is a big race, a lot of big effort, and that he won the prologue today really showed that he is in really really good shape and he can go for the win. It gives us good confidence, especially me as I am here to make good work for the team. I'm really glad to see how good shape he is, it motivates me more.”

A total of 36 riders are now separated by 20 seconds at the top of the standings, making for an exciting opening to the 14th edition of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Finishing fourth, American Neilson Powless of Team LottoNL-Jumbo claimed the WCF Insurance Best Young Rider jersey.

“It was pretty hot but it was a gorgeous venue in St George,” said Powless who won the Best Young Rider at the 2017 Tour of Utah. “It got a bit warm throughout the day, I went a bit earlier so it was a little bit cooler but it certainly stop these guys from setting insanely fast times. Very happy to be back in the Best young rider's jersey, I think that my spring was sort of up and down and it's nice to be coming back into fitness again.”

Sixth on the day, 11 seconds from the win, Serghei Tvetcov (ROM) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team was voted the America First Credit Union Fan Favorite, in the category of International Rider. Fifth on the stage, Pascal Eenkhoom (NED) of Team LottoNL-Jumbo was awarded the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider jersey. Rosskopf claimed the Utah Sports Commission Sprint jersey and Bohli was awarded the Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain jersey.

Joe Dombrowski (USA) of EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale, the overall winner of the 2015 Tour of Utah, is 13 seconds back in 12th place, and defending champion Rob Britton (CAN) of Rally Cycling is in 29th place, 18 seconds down.

“I haven't looked at the full list of results, where the other contenders are but I think that after a 5K efforts, I can't imagine that it's more than a handful of seconds and the climb to Snowbird, that's a hard climb,” van Garderen pondered when asked about his strategy to defend the race lead and the importance of Stage 5 presented by University of Utah Health. “It's hot, it just bakes in the sun, it's steep so if you have a bad day on that day, whatever advantage you gain on a 5k prologue is going to be wiped away.”

AWARD JERSEYS

  • Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall leader – Tejay van Garderen (USA), BMC Racing Team
  • Utah Sports Commission Sprint leader – Joe Rosskopf (USA), BMC Racing Team
  • Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain – Tom Bohli (SUI), BMC Racing Team
  • WCF Insurance Best Young Rider – Neilson Powless (NED), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
  • Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider – Pascal Eenkhoom (NED), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
  • America First Credit Union Fan Favorite – Serghei Tvetcov (ROM), UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team

PROLOGUE – Top 5

  1. VAN GARDEREN Tejay (USA) BMC RACING TEAM – 0:06:27.490
  2. ROSSKOPF Joseph (USA) BMC RACING TEAM – 0:06:31.250
  3. BOHLI Tom (SUI) BMC RACING TEAM – 0:06:33.960
  4. POWLESS Neilson (USA) TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 0:06:34.420
  5. EENKHOORN Pascal (NED) TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 0:06:38.170

Stage 1: McCabe Conquers Cedar City Sprint with Third Career Win at Tour of Utah

American Tejay van Garderen Retains Leader's Jersey After First Day of Climbing

Travis McCabe of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team surged past the field in a chaotic sprint finish to win Stage 1 presented by America First Credit Union at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah on Tuesday.

“Coming into this, I trained really hard. I've had a few months now of just being home and training. Utah was a big goal,” said McCabe, who lives and trains in nearby Arizona. He took advantage of a late race attack by his teammate Serghei Tvetcov to claim his third stage win in three years at the Tour of Utah.

“Taking that third win was what I was waking up every morning, dreaming about. Every year it's always come later on the race and so to get it the second day is pretty incredible. I tried really hard to get a really good time trial yesterday with hopes of taking over the jersey but I got second behind Tejay and I probably won't get it tomorrow. Getting three wins in three years is pretty awesome. I love the Tour of Utah, I really do, it's one of my favorite races I do every year. I'm an Arizona boy, we're neighbors. I feel that this is the closest thing that I have to a home race and when I come here I always look to be on form and be my best.”

A bike length separated McCabe from second-place Ulises Castillo of Jelly Belly Cycling Team p/b Maxxis, and Edwin Avila of Israel Cycling Academy following in third.

Overall race leader Tejay van Garderen of BMC Racing Team retained his Larry H. Miller Dealerships leader’s yellow jersey by finishing safely in the peloton. By capturing the 10-second finish time bonus, McCabe moved up to second in the General Classification (G.C.), only two seconds back. Joey Rosskopf of BMC Racing Team is in third place overall, a further two seconds down. Fourth in the G.C., Neilson Powless of Team LottoNL-Jumbo retained the WCF Insurance Best Young Rider jersey.

Blue skies and warm weather greeted the 115 racers at the start of Stage 1 presented by America First Credit Union in the fourth-time host city of Cedar City. The start and the finish were held on the campus of Southern Utah University. After a flurry of attacks in the first 40 minutes of racing, four riders managed to escape to form the main breakaway of the day. Evan Huffman of Rally Cycling, George Simpson of Elevate KHS, Daan Olivier of Team Lotto NL-Jumbo and Lionel Mawditt of Jelly Belly pb Maxxis worked well together to increase their lead.

Everything was going to plan for the BMC Racing Team. “Our plan was to let a breakaway get up the road to stop the attacks.” van Garderen explained. “We found a breakaway that we were comfortable with, let them get a little time, establish a chase and we were banking on a couple sprinter's teams to help close the gap in the final so that we didn't have to do all the work today. We were able to keep things relatively under control, it was a hard fought day.”

The four escapees built a lead that grew to over five minutes before starting to climb up Parowan Canyon for the highest climb of the week near Cedar Breaks National Monument, topping out at 10,600 feet.

“It was the first time I raced at this altitude which makes it pretty hard, but I think it was a really nice climb. The steep gradients I like, so I enjoyed it,” said Olivier about the Category 1 climb, which gains 4,500 vertical feet in 15 miles, with some sections at Brian Head Ski Resort challenging riders with a 15 percent gradient.

Huffman, then Simpson had trouble following the pace on the steeper pitches as they approached the top of the climb. “We had four riders, working pretty well together. Splitting up on the climb a little bit, it was kind of the limit for me, I'm not so good at the really steep stuff so I suffered through it. Luckily they sat up at the top for the long descent for the next climb,” said Huffman who was awarded the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider jersey.

After re-forming on the descent, the break shattered on the next KOM at Bristlecone. Under pressure from the chasing peloton, Olivier continued solo and claimed the Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain jersey.

With 20 miles to go, the gap to the lone rider was down to under two minutes with teams chasing to bring about a bunch sprint. One team that did not participate in the chase was UnitedHealthcare.

“I really had to just make it up over the big climb. It was a pretty fast pace, we lost a few of the bigger sprinters like Ty Magner on that climb because of the tailwind. Pace was pretty hard, we were on the pedals the whole day. We were expecting that. We didn't really contribute too much to the chase because we could tell that guys on the breakaway were starting to come off, a little early on, like 90 K in the race. We let it play out,” McCabe explained.

Attacks were launched from the front. Luis Lemus of Israel Cycling Academy took a solo flyer with 20 kilometers to go, caught and passed Olivier as he approached Cedar City. But his move was doomed.

More attacks flew from the field as they raced around the finishing circuits. “In the sprint, there aren't really any big sprinters team because it's such heavy climbing race this year so I floated along, waiting for the opportune time for me to sprint, opened it up with 250 meters to go and won,” said McCabe.

McCabe also claimed the Utah Sports Commission Sprint jersey. Nathan Brown of EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale was voted America First Credit Union Fan Favorite, in the category of Best Ambassador (Statesman).

Stage 1 presented by America First Credit Union

  1. MCCABE Travis (USA) UNITEDHEALTHCARE – 4:17:05
  2. CASTILLO SOTO Ulises Alfredo (MEX) JELLY BELLY pb MAXXIS – 4:17:05
  3. AVILA VANEGAS Edwin Alcibiades (COL) ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY – 4:17:05
  4. BOOKWALTER Brent (USA) BMC RACING TEAM – 4:17:05
  5. REIJNEN Kiel (USA) TREK-SEGAFREDO – 4:17:05

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION (After Stage 1)

  1. VAN GARDEREN Tejay (USA) BMC RACING TEAM – 4:23:32
  2. MCCABE Travis (USA) UNITEDHEALTHCARE – 4:23:34 +0:00:02
  3. ROSSKOPF Joey (USA) BMC RACING TEAM – 4:23:36 +0:00:04
  4. POWLESS Neilson (USA) TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 4:23:39 +0:00:07
  5. HUFFMAN Evan (USA) RALLY CYCLING – 4:23:42 +0:00:10

AWARD JERSEYS

  • Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall leader – Tejay van Garderen (USA), BMC Racing Team
  • Utah Sports Commission Sprint leader – Travis McCabe (USA), UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
  • Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain – Daan Olivier (NED), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
  • WCF Insurance Best Young Rider – Neilson Powless (NED), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
  • Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider – Evan Huffman (USA), Rally Cycling Team
  • America First Credit Union Fan Favorite – Nathan Brown (USA), EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale

Stage 2: Kuss Soars Up Mount Nebo for Race Lead at Tour of Utah

Team LottoNL-Jumbo Teammates Take Top Two Positions on Stage 2 in Payson and on G.C

The legend of Mount Nebo just got a bit bigger at the 2018 Tour of Utah today. Another rider was able to make a mark with a daring attack on its slopes while others saw their dreams of overall victory disappear.

A powerful solo attack by Sepp Kuss Team LottoNL-Jumbo lasted 32 miles from the slopes of Mount Nebo for a thrilling win on Stage 2 at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah on Wednesday. The victory in downtown Payson City put the 23-year-old in the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies overall leader’s jersey.

Kuss covered the 88.6-mile course in 3 hours and 25 minutes. Crossing the line 29 seconds later was his teammate Neilson Powless, who won the sprint for second place ahead of Rally Cycling’s Kyle Murphy.

Kuss attacked and passed the dwindling peloton on the steep, lower slopes of Mount Nebo, the highest mountain in the Wasatch Range of Utah. He was alone at the top, 9,300 feet above sea level at the Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain climb and held off a hard-charging chase group on the exhilarating 23-mile descent to the finish.

“At the beginning of the climb, I felt really strong so I thought I'll wait until some of the G.C. guys start attacking and then key off of that. Maybe even try something on my own if I feel good,” said Kuss who countered an attack by Pete Stetina [Trek Segafredo] at the bottom of the climb. “I followed that, and still felt pretty good and the gap kept going. The climb was a little bit pitchy so I used the rollers and stuff to keep my momentum. There was definitely a headwind so after I passed Pete, I thought this might not be the smartest decision. I still felt really good, still under my limit so I just kept going at a reasonable speed and thought if they catch me, they catch me and I'll still have something in reserve.”

Kuss had a one-minute lead on the chasing group of elite riders as he crested Mount Nebo. “At the top of the KOM, I felt pretty good. Something I have this weird thing where the higher altitude I get I feel weirdly better. You can just breathe harder but your lungs don't work as much type of thing, that sounds really sick,” he said with a laugh.

“Honestly I wasn't super confident, I’'m not the best time trialist or flat land rider and I'm not super aerodynamic and it's still pretty windy so I thought they might make some time up. Halfway down the descent, when the gap was more or less the same, it gave me a lot of confidence but the wheels were definitely starting to come off in the last five k [kilometers].”

Powless celebrated his teammate’s victory as he crossed the line. “Sepp going up the road, that was a baller move, it was just insane,” he said. “I was incredibly happy, at a loss for words. Have a little time to celebrate, you don't get to celebrate when you finish second very often but when your teammate finishes first and you come in across the line next, that's about as special as it gets.”

Making its seventh appearance at the Tour of Utah, the legendary Mount Nebo stage brought major changes to the 2018 overall leaderboard. The victory gives Kuss a 21-second General Classification (G.C.) lead over Powless. Tejay van Garderen of BMC Racing Team dropped from first to third, 25 seconds down. Murphy surged from 27th to fourth overall on G.C. Joe Dombrowski (EF Education First-Drapac) jumped up five spots to fifth overall, 38 seconds behind Kuss.

After a fast and furious start on Stage 2, Travis McCabe (UnitedHealthcare) claimed the first intermediate sprint in front of historic Peteetneet Museum in Payson ahead of Powless and Ulises Castillo (Jelly Belly). The three-second time bonus made McCabe the virtual leader on the road. But the sprinter dropped out of the field as the road went up and up. McCabe did retain the Utah Sports Commission Sprint jersey, and will focus on upcoming stages.

Once again, the break of the day was initiated by Evan Huffman (Rally Cycling) who was joined by Sam Bassetti of Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling, Edward Anderson of Hagens Berman Axeon, Griffin Easter of 303 Project, Cormac Mcgeough of Jelly Belly Cycling Team p/b Maxxis and Michael Hernandez of Aevolo Cycling. The six riders worked well together and built up a lead of over four minutes to the BMC Racing Team-led peloton.

Hernandez made the first attack to break up the cooperation on the lower slopes of Mount Nebo. Easter countered the move and tried to continue solo. Behind him, attacks from the dwindling field putting pressure on van Garderen and his team.

With 32 miles to go, Kuss made his fateful move. He then put his head down and closed the 45-second gap to Easter. Dombrowski gave chase, first with teammate Michael Woods, then with Hugh Carthy. The surges dropped even more riders from the field, isolating van Garderen in his defense of the yellow jersey.

Another attack from Murphy led to a re-shuffle in the chase group. “I attacked over the top of Mt. Nebo and got in a little move with Hugh Carthy and Luis Villalobos (Aevolo). I was hoping the yellow jersey had cracked and that EF Drapac was blocking behind. It wound up being a headwind and I didn’t want to do too much work on the descent since it’s such a long stage race. We ended up getting caught but I felt pretty confident in a bunch kick,” he explained.

Kuss showed his skill on the twisty descent, maintaining a gap of around one minute to chasers as they sped towards Payson. He had time to enjoy his victory before the small field crossed the finish line.

Powless who had yo-yo’ed off the back of the field on the climb found his sprinting legs for second place. “I was struggling with the group a bit, but just trying to stay within myself the whole time. Just try not to surge at all, stay with the bunch and just pray that the group doesn't go too far away and I could come back. Luckily I was still strong over the top and I was able to come back to Gavin Mannion and Brent Bookwalter. I knew that if I came back, it could be a good finish for me especially with the riders that were left.”

“I’m pretty surprised with third today. I felt pretty terrible yesterday but the legs came around today,” Murphy said. “I’m happy with the result and happy to do something for the team. We’ve all been supporting each other and I’m just glad all of the hard work is paying off.”

Easter, the last rider from the six-man breakaway to be reeled in after 40 miles in the saddle, was awarded the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider jersey. Gage Hecht (Aevolo) was voted America First Credit Union Fan Favorite, in the category of Most Promising Rookie. The Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain jersey stayed with Daan Olivier (LottoNL-Jumbo) and Powless is back in the WCF Insurance Best Young Rider jersey.

Stage 2

  1. KUSS Sepp (USA), TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 3.25'58”
  2. POWLESS Neilson (USA), TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 3.26'27” +29″
  3. MURPHY Kyle (USA), RALLY CYCLING – 3.26'27” +29”
  4. VILLALOBOS HERNANDEZ Luis Ricardo (MEX), AEVOLO – 3.26'30” +32”
  5. HERMANS Ben (BEL), ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY – 3.26'30” +32″

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION (After Stage 2)

  1. KUSS Sepp (USA) TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 7.49'37”
  2. POWLESS Neilson (USA), TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 7.49'58” +21″
  3. VAN GARDEREN Tejay (USA), BMC RACING TEAM – 7.50'02” +25″
  4. MURPHY Kyle (USA), RALLY CYCLING – 7.50'14” +37″
  5. DOMBROWSKI Joseph Lloyd (USA), EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE – 7.50'15” +38″

AWARD JERSEYS

  • Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall leader – Sepp Kuss (USA), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
  • Utah Sports Commission Sprint leader – Travis McCabe (USA), UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
  • Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain – Daan Olivier (NED), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
  • WCF Insurance Best Young Rider – Neilson Powless (USA), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
  • Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider – Griffin Easter (USA), 303 Project
  • America First Credit Union Fan Favorite – Gage Hecht (USA), Aevolo Pro Cycling

Stage 3: American McCabe Rockets to Second Stage Win on Longest Day of Weeklong Tour of Utah

Top 10 in the General Classification Remains Unchanged with Majority of Climbing to Come

American Travis McCabe of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team turned on the afterburners in a thrilling bunch sprint on Thursday to win Stage 3 presented by America First Credit Union at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. McCabe scored his second victory in three days, and his fourth career stage win in Utah, with a time of 4 hours, and four minutes.

Jasper Philipsen of Hagens Berman Axeon finished a close second. Edward Avila of Jelly Belly presented by Maxxis claimed his second third-place finish this week.

“It's pretty awesome. It's just a roar, you can't hear the announcers,” McCabe said about the huge crowds at the finish line in Layton City, a second-time host venue. “I'm constantly checking the lap counter to make sure I don't raise my hands too early. It's a pretty cool feeling. It's a pretty chaotic in the end and you're in the zone and focused on the moment that is happening. But you're also trying to think about where you're going to start the sprint, which direction the wind is coming and then when you're doing all that, you're trying to talk to your teammates throughout too and you have that long stretch where you can't hear anything. It's pretty phenomenal, it's fun.”

“For a U23 team, we don't have the force of the big older teams so we have one shot at the end. I'm super proud of the guys, they did great, they put me in perfect position. The last laps, it was pretty hectic, I'm happy I was there, trying to sprint for the win but Travis was just stronger in the end so I need to be satisfied with second place,” Philipsen commented.

Enthusiastic fans were treated to an action-packed finish through Layton Commons Park for five finishing circuits. The final two remaining riders of the early breakaway, Rob Britton of Rally Cycling and Jonny Clarke of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling, were reeled in with only eight kilometers to go, leaving the sprinters to battle at the end of 116.8 miles of racing, the longest stage of the week.

It all went to plan for McCabe and his team on a stage earmarked for the sprinters. “We knew that it was going to be a long day, hot so we didn't want to take full responsibility overall. The plan was to have somebody in the break. We thought that today was the day that a breakaway could stick and we wanted to give opportunities to some of the riders as well. For us, we got Jonny in there and that took the responsibility off of us which about every team that was trying to go for the win today got someone in there today. It forced LottoNL-Jumbo to ride at the front all day to keep really Rob in check and not let it go out too far.”

“It worked out really well,” he added. “Jonny did a great job and then he got away at the end with Rob, and again allowed us not to take charge until the last minute when we used Seba (Haedo) to put me in perfect position for the sprint. It was just a drag race between Jasper and I.”

American Sepp Kuss of Team LottoNL-Jumbo finished safely in the bunch and retained the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall Leader jersey. With little change in the overall standings, Kuss continued to hold a 19-second lead over teammate Neilson Powless, and a 25-second margin over Tejay van Garderen of BMC Racing Team. Michael Woods of EF Education First-Drapac presented by Cannondale moved from eighth to fourth overall. The balance of the G.C. Top 10 remained unchanged.

Stage 3 presented by America First Credit Union started at Antelope Island State Park, which sits on the largest island in the Great Salt Lake. Fast and furious racing highlighted the first hour before a breakaway of 10 escaped the 110-man field. The non-stop attacks and counter-attacks provided a perfect opportunity for sprinters to try and get more points in the first two intermediate sprint lines. McCabe took the first intermediate sprint line in Syracuse ahead of Powless and Ulises Castillo (Jelly Belly). Woods caught everyone by surprise when he jumped to get the points and more importantly the three-second time bonus for the second intermediate sprint in Farmington.

Finally, a counter-attack stuck, and the break was off after 45 miles of racing. In addition to Britton and Clarke, the move included Gage Hecht (Aevolo Cycling, Brendan Canty (EF Education First-Drapac), Lucas Hamilton (Mitchelton-Scott, Damiano Cima (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini), Michael Rice (Hagens Berman Axeon), Tony Baca (303 Project), Hamish Schreurs (Israel Cycling Academy) and Laurent Didier (Trek-Segafredo). Team LottoNL-Jumbo kept the escapees on a short leash, allowing only a maximum of a two-minute lead on the hot day.

The break stayed together as they crested Bountiful Bench, the only KOM of the day, and as they rolled through the third intermediate sprint. With 30 miles to go, Schreurs launched the first attack, dooming the break. Attacks continued until Britton and Clarke headed off together on the first of the five finishing circuits with the field only 30 seconds behind. With less than two laps to go, Britton and Clarke shook hands before being re-absorbed by the field in full flight for the ultimate bunch sprint.

“That wasn't really the plan for me to be in the break, but it was the plan to have someone in the break,” Britton explained. “It was very, very disorganized most of the day. As you could tell, it was a really really hot day. It was almost kind of nice to have the car there so you could just get bottles iced all day. It wasn't too bad, the parcours wasn't super mountainous. Utah is traditionally known for, just one time up Bountiful and back, mostly flat the rest of the day. Really we were sort of cruising until the end and then Jonny and I kind of kicked off the last few laps there.”

Defending champion Britton, the driving force in the breakaway, was awarded the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider jersey. McCabe retained his Utah Sports Commission Sprint jersey. Alex Howes (USA) of EF Education First-Drapac presented by Cannondale was voted America First Credit Union Fan Favorite, in the category of Best Sprinter. The Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain jersey stayed with Daan Olivier (NED) of Team LottoNL-Jumbo and Powless remained in the WCF Insurance Best Young Rider jersey.

The sprinters will try again tomorrow to beat McCabe, in Stage 4 presented by Zions Bank.

“It's never easy to win,” said McCabe. “Every day is a new day. I was just as nervous today as I was on stage 1. It does off some pressure off of us which is nice. I think it boosts up a bit for everyone. I think tomorrow we play the same game, we just sit and wait and see how it plays out. But I think we're here more for Gavin (Mannion) to keep him up and into a better GC position, he's riding great and after tomorrow, the last two days suit him really well.”

Stage 3 presented by America First Credit Union

  1. MCCABE Travis (USA), UNITEDHEALTHCARE – 4.04'47”
  2. PHILIPSEN Jasper (BEL), HAGENS BERMAN AXEON – 4.04'47”
  3. AVILA VANEGAS Edwin Alcibiades (COL), ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY – 4.04'47”
  4. CASTILLO SOTO Ulises Alfredo (MEX), JELLY BELLY pb MAXXIS – 4.04'47”
  5. CIMA Imerio (ITA), NIPPO-VINI FANTINI-EUROPA OVINI – 4.04'47”

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION (After Stage 3)

  1. KUSS Sepp (USA), TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 11.54'24”
  2. POWLESS Neilson (USA), TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 11.54'43” +19″
  3. VAN GARDEREN Tejay (USA), BMC RACING TEAM – 11.54'49” +25″
  4. WOODS Michael (CAN), EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE – 11.55'00” +36″
  5. MURPHY Kyle (USA), RALLY CYCLING – 11.55'01” +37″

AWARD JERSEYS

  • Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall leader – Sepp Kuss (USA), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
  • Utah Sports Commission Sprint leader – Travis McCabe (USA), UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
  • Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain – Daan Olivier (NED), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
  • WCF Insurance Best Young Rider – Neilson Powless (USA), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
  • Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider – Rob Britton (CAN), Rally Cycling
  • America First Credit Union Fan Favorite – Alex Howes (USA), EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale

Stage 4: Belgian Philipsen Ignites Crowd with Stage 4 Photo Finish Win in Salt Lake City

Overall General Classification Lead Retained by Kuss on Eve of Queen Stage Battle

Jasper Philipsen of Hagens Berman Axeon grabbed the line in a thrilling photo finish to win Stage 4 presented by Zions Bank at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. In a fast and furious circuit race in downtown Salt Lake City, the 20-year-old Belgian claimed his first victory in the United States in a time of 2 hours and 35 seconds.

“I never had a greater result in the U.S. before,” said Philipsen, who finished a close second on Thursday in Layton at Stage 3 presented by America First Credit Union. “At the beginning of the week, I didn't feel great but I felt every day that my form was growing. After yesterday, I started to believe in it. Today everything came together. Just a few millimeters that made a difference again and I'm happy it's on my side today.”

In a hard-fought sprint, two-time Tour of Utah stage winner Travis McCabe of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team took second place, a tire-width difference from another victory. Trek-Segafredo's Kiel Reijnen, who has won stages at the Tour of Utah in 2015 and 2016, finished third.

Overall race leader Sepp Kuss of Team LottoNL-Jumbo finished 10th and retained the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall Leader jersey. With little change in the overall standings, Kuss continued to hold a 19-second lead over his teammate, Neilson Powless, and a 25-second margin over Tejay van Garderen of BMC Racing Team.

Huge crowds turned out along the 68.4-mile course, including Reservoir Park near the University of Utah and under the iconic Eagle Gate on State Street leading to the Utah State Capitol. The 108 riders tackled 10 laps of the 6.8-mile downtown circuit for a total of 5,500 feet of elevation gain.

“This is my second time in a circuit race downtown in Salt Lake City and I think both times here the crowds have been super impressive. You can't ask for a better backdrop,” said Reijnen. “We want to put on a show for the fans. It’s more fun for us when everyone is out cheering us on. We definitely race at 110 percent when we know the circuit like we did today.”

A group of 15 riders escaped immediately, but Team LottoNL-Jumbo controlled the pace to keep the breakaway close. Initiated by Laurent Didier of Trek-Segafredo, the move also included Joey Rosskopf (BMC), UnitedHealthcare teammate Serghei Tvetcov and Jonny Clarke, T.J. Eisenhart of Holowesko-Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources, Ivan Santaromita and Sho Hatsuyama of Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini, Edward Anderson of Hagens Berman Axeon, Bernat Font Mas of 303 Project, Nigel Ellsay of Rally Cycling, Taylor Shelden of Jelly Belly pb Maxxis, Sam Bewley of Mitchelton-Scott, Aevolo Cycling teammates Michael Hernandez and Lance Haidet and finally Didier’s teammate Michael Ries. The danger man in the break for Kuss and his team was Rosskopf who was 1:46 down on GC at the start the day.

As expected, not all in the riders in the break were pulling through at the front. The gap went from 40 seconds after two laps to around the one-minute mark for the rest of the stage. Perfect situation for both Team LottoNL-Jumbo and the sprinters in the field. No big attacks happened at the front of the race but riders were shelled from the back on the tough climb.

For Reijnen, the change of the start/finish line from Capitol Hill to North Main Street as per previous editions of this circuit race, brought a change in strategy.

“I think the start/finish line made for a significantly different dynamic than three years ago,” he explained. “It was much more punchy, position was going to matter, at least as much if not more. I think there was also more motivation for teams with sprinters to keep things steady and together. We saw some attacks on the last lap and that was about it. Previous Tours, there were more opportunities for late attacks and harder to keep things contained.”

With three laps to go, Haidet and Didier could not follow the pace in the break while the Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling took over the pace making at the front of the field. One lap later, the gap was down to 45 seconds, more riders were being dropped. Clarke put in the first attack in the field, right before the feedzone He drew out Rosskopf and Tvetcov. Then it was Hernanzed’s turn to put in a big acceleration. More teams put in riders in the rotation at the front of the field as the bell lap approached.

With only 10 kilometers to go, only Ellsay, Tvetcov, Anderson, Rosskopf and Ries were left off the front with a gap of 15 seconds to the chasing field. Nicola Conci (Trek-Segafredo) and Sean Bennett (Hagens Berman Axeon) jumped across the small gap to join the remnants of the original break. Rosskopf put in another digger with two kilometers to go which Tvetcov quickly countered. Diminished field came back together with 800 meters for another chaotic sprint.

“It was a bit special because the break was still there and we had two guys that made the move in the end on the last lap, and he also has a good bunch (sprint) and we have confidence in him. It was just a bit waiting to see how it would turn out again. Before the last couple of corners, it all came back together. I got a little boxed in but I saw white in front of me, and I knew that wheel I need to take, it came back again to a bunch sprint,” said Philipsen.

McCabe started his sprint first on the uphill drag on North Main Street, but Philipsen was able to catch him. The two dueled to the end with a bike throw to seal the deal for Philipsen. Just a day before, it was McCabe who beat Philipsen to the line.

“It was pretty tame today because I think of the heat. And because Joey Rosskopf was in the break, LottoNL-Jumbo had to keep the breakaway at under a minute. So it played in our favor and we had Serghei and Jonny up there,” McCabe said. “We put a few guys on the front to keep the speed up until we got to the downhill and it was a bit chaotic coming through those last few corners but it's been like that so far so we're used to it.”

“Happy with second place, Jasper got me on the line, it came down to a bike throw. I think it was pretty exciting for everyone to watch when you race for 115 km and it comes down to 15 millimeters. That's how it is,” added McCabe, who continued to hold the Utah Sports Commission Sprint jersey.

“I definitely put a lot in preparing for this race, it definitely one that suits me. I definitely came here with the intent of winning a stage. I came down with sinus infection somewhere between the prologue and the first stage which is really poorly timed. Sometimes that's life. I had to reset my expectations after that,” said Reijnen.

“Today it was clear that I wasn't sprinting for the win and that's really disappointing. I also wanted to do as much as I could because the guys were really good these first few days looking out for me, and they had a lot of faith in me even though I was sick so I wanted to pay that back a bit. Greggy Rast just announced his retirement, he was the last guy on the front with 300 meters to go, leading out, it's really cool, I have a lot of respect for him, everybody helped today. It was very cool that Rast led me out.”

Very active in the breakaway for the second day in a row, Clarke was awarded the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider jersey. Also in the breakaway, Utah-native Eisenhart was voted the America First Credit Union Fan Favorite, in the category of Most Fashionable. Powless remained in the WCF Insurance Best Young Rider jersey.

Stage 4 presented by Zions Bank

  1. PHILIPSEN Jasper (BEL), HAGENS BERMAN AXEON – 2.35'04”
  2. MCCABE Travis (USA), UNITEDHEALTHCARE – 2.35'04
  3. REIJNEN Kiel (USA), TREK-SEGAFREDO – 2.35'04”
  4. BASSETTI Samuel (USA), ELEVATE-KHS PRO CYCLING – 2.35'04”
  5. AVILA VANEGAS Edwin Alcibiades (COL), ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY – 2.35'04”

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION (After Stage 4)

  1. KUSS Sepp (USA), TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 14.29'28”
  2. POWLESS Neilson (USA), TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 14.29'47” +19″
  3. VAN GARDEREN Tejay (USA), BMC RACING TEAM – 14.29'53” +25″
  4. WOODS Michael (CAN), EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE – 14.30'04” +36″
  5. MURPHY Kyle (USA), RALLY CYCLING – 14.30'05” +37″

AWARD JERSEYS

  • Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall leader – Sepp Kuss (USA), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
  • Utah Sports Commission Sprint leader – Travis McCabe (USA), UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
  • Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain – Daan Olivier (NED), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
  • WCF Insurance Best Young Rider – Neilson Powless (USA), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
  • Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider – Jonathan Clarke (AUS), UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
  • America First Credit Union Fan Favorite – T.J. Eisenhart (USA),  Holowesko-Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources

Stage 5: American Kuss Reigns at Queen Stage of Tour of Utah and Retains Overall Lead for Fourth Day

Showdown for General Classification Expected Sunday for Grand Finale in Park City

Overall race leader Sepp Kuss of Team LottoNL-Jumbo soloed to victory on Stage 5 presented by University of Utah Health at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah on Saturday. He accelerated away from an elite group of riders on the legendary six-mile climb of Little Cottonwood Canyon to win at Snowbird Resort in a time of 4 hours and two minutes.

The 23-year old American continued to wear the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall Leader jersey since his emphatic victory in Payson on Stage 2, extending his lead in the General Classification (G.C.).

“At the bottom, EF Education First-Drapac definitely set a pretty hard tempo but at the end it was maybe better for us because that's what I was probably going to have the guys do anyway. When the guys starting attacking which I expected,” said Kuss who covered attacks from Michael Woods and Joe Dombrowski before powering away. “I was expecting them to maybe put in maybe longer attacks or more attacks, once I saw that Dombrowski and I had a little bit of a gap, then I knew that I was in a good position already just to go on my own and I wouldn't have to deal with anything anymore, just kept going.”

Ben Hermans (BEL) of Israel Cycling Academy pushed Kuss with a solo chase on the final Hors Category climb, crossing the line 39 seconds back in second place. The battle for third place was taken by Peter Stetina of Trek-Segafredo, who outmaneuvered a select group that included defending champion Rob Britton of Rally Cycling, Jack Haig of Mitchelton-Scott, 2015 Tour of Utah winner Dombrowski (USA) of Dombrowski’s teammate Hugh John Carthy. Stetina crossed the line 1 minute and 18 seconds behind the winner.

“I was maybe smiling a little bit because there's no better feeling than just standing up on the pedals. Attacking is just really fun. When you're on a good day, and you feel good there's really no better feeling in the world than just dancing on the pedals up a climb. I was having fun,” added Kuss. “Then when I got a gap and saw Ben Hermans was behind me and he's a really strong rider, I thought ‘oh no, that's not what I want chasing me right now', because he's a real engine. After that I was really hurting.”

As expected, Stage 5 presented by University of Utah Health brought major changes to the overall standings. Hermans surged from 11th place to second place, 1 minute and 21 seconds behind Kuss on G.C. Dombrowski and Carthy moved up to third and fourth place, respectively, a little more than two minutes back.

Neilson Powless (LottoNL-Jumbo), Tejay van Garderen (BMC), Kyle Murphy (Rally) and Gavin Mannion (UnitedHealthcare) all dropped out of the Top 10 with one stage to go in “America's Toughest Stage Race.”

The Tour of Utah’s “Queen Stage” lived up to its reputation as one of cycling’s most exciting days in the saddle, with 9,975 feet of elevation gain and three Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain climbs. The 96.2-mile (154.6 km) stage began for the first time at Canyons Village in Park City. The first hour of racing delivered the same dynamic racing that we’ve seen in most of the previous stages. Everyone wanted to be in the break which negated most of the attacks. Riders from Israel Cycling Academy, Jelly Belly, Rally Cycling, Holowesko-Citadel. Silber Pro Cycling all gave it a go. Some solo, some in some groups but nothing stuck.

With one kilometer to the first KOM of the day, the Category 4 up Jordanelle, six riders managed to get a small gap with Daniel Jaramillo (UnitedHealthcare) taking top points ahead of Griffin Easter (303 Project) and Joe Rosskopf (BMC). Soon they were joined by more riders in an ebb and flow of riders at the front, trying to escape while battling a headwind. Finally after over an hour of dynamic racing over undulating terrain of Summit County, the 10-rider breakaway was established. The move included Jaramillo and his teammate Jonny Clarke, Evan Huffman (Rally), Kilian Frankiny (BMC), Ivan Santaromita (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini), Ruben Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy), Cameron Meyer (Mitchelton-Scott), Taylor Shelden (Jelly Belly) and Trek-Segafredo duo of Kiel Riejnen and Niklas Eg.

Having missed the move, Holowesko-Citadel duo of Ruben Companioni and Joe Lewis tried to bridge across but they never made and sat up after 20 miles of futile chasing.

The breakaway saw their gap decrease from four to two minutes on the ascent of Guardsman Pass. Meanwhile Team Team LottoNL-Jumbo stayed at the front of the field, setting a steady tempo. Huffman went to the front of the now nine-rider break on the blistering 15-mile descent of Big Cottonwood Canyon.

With 10 miles to go, the break only had a minute gap on the dwindling field which was down to around 40 riders. Kuss looked confident and comfortable, still surrounded by his teammates. Soon after, EF Education First-Drapac put four riders at the front and upped the pace.

With the gap coming down, Frankiny attacked the remnants of the break. “We were looking for the breakaway. First we had Joey up there and it all came back together, and then I took my chance and tried my luck,” he said. “It was still a long day, we did it over the climb, Guardsman, and then on that downhill we only had one minute and 20. Then on the start of the last climb, we had around 45 seconds, I was thinking, I need to try my luck on my own, I was feeling pretty good on the climb before. I tried it but after awhile, Sepp and the other guys passed me.”

Woods made the first serious attack in the field, which Kuss covered. Dombrowski countered and that was enough for Kuss. He simply accelerated away with eight kilometers to go. After catching and passing Frankiny, Kuss flew to the finish line.

It was a perfect day for Kuss and his team. “The plan today was just get to the bottom of Snowbird in a good position in order to do that I had to have a lot of support from the team. Starting off with the early break, everybody was really on point. I think we had four guys up the road at one point because they were so good at covering the moves. That's a nice thing being on a Dutch team, cycling is a little bit in their blood,” he said with a laugh.

“They’re really good at the tactics so for a guy like me who is a little confused by that sometimes, I can just sit back and save energy. And then, on the climb of Guardsmen, a special mention to our stagiaire Jan Maas, he was really strong in the beginning and he definitely deserves a big contract from the team. And then Pascal Eenkhoorn also rode really strong and kept the gap even. (Koen) Bouwman was really strong on the descent, got to the bottom of the climb and I just decided to ride my own pace, it was easier than having to deal with jumping with everybody. I didn't really know how many k [kilometers] were left in the climb but I felt good and decided to make a decisive move and put everybody on the back foot maybe. And then, just ride my own race, and it ended up working out again today. I'm really happy,” Kuss added.

“I really like to ride here in Utah. It's really special with the altitude and the heat. At home, I live on 700 meters and that's already pretty high for the place that I live,” said Frankiny who is racing his third Tour of Utah. “Today, I really tried to go for the stage because I lost some time on Mount Nebo stage because the day before I was working for Tejay and then I paid the day after. Today I tried my luck, at the end it didn't work out but at least I got the (Larry H. Miller Dealerships) Most Aggressive Rider jersey.”

Kuss took over the Utah Office of Tourism KOM jersey. The Utah Sports Commission Sprint jersey remained with Travis McCabe (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team. Alex Hoehn (USA) of Aevolo Cycling was voted America First Credit Union Fan Favorite, in the category of Best Climber. Finishing eighth place on the stage, Luis Villalobos (MEX) of Aevolo Cycling, jumped to seventh overall to become the WCF Insurance Best Young Rider.

“I am very happy because its been a long time since we've had Mexicans in the big races. Today, it was a day that felt like a dream for me because of all the work that I have done all year. Today, it was a big day for me and so I’m enjoying that at one of the biggest races here in the United States. My first time at the Tour of Utah, it was wonderful for me, for the team, for the opportunity for everything we have been given, to trust in me today, and I hope for better things to come in the future,” said the 20-year old Villalobos.

Stage 5 presented by University of Utah Health

  1. KUSS Sepp TEAM (USA), LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 4.02'32”
  2. HERMANS Ben (BEL), ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY – 4.03'11” +39″
  3. STETINA Peter (USA), TREK-SEGAFREDO – 4.03'50” +1'18”
  4. BRITTON Robert (CAN), RALLY CYCLING – 4.03'59” +1'27”
  5. HAIG Jack (AUS), MITCHELTON-SCOTT – 4.03'59” +1'27”

GENERAL CLASSIFICATION (After Stage 5) – Top 10

  1. KUSS Sepp TEAM (USA), LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 18.32'00”
  2. HERMANS Ben (BEL), ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY – 18.33'21” +1'21”
  3. DOMBROWSKI Joe (USA), EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE – 18.34'05” +2'05”
  4. CARTHY Hugh John (GBR), EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE – 18.34'05” +2'05”
  5. HAIG Jack (AUS), MITCHELTON-SCOTT – 18.34'07” +2'07”

AWARD JERSEYS

  • Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall leader – Sepp Kuss (USA), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
  • Utah Sports Commission Sprint leader – Travis McCabe (USA), UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
  • Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain – Sepp Kuss (USA), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
  • WCF Insurance Best Young Rider – Luis Villalobos (MEX), Aevolo Cycling
  • Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider – Kilian Frankiny (SUI), BMC Racing Team
  • America First Credit Union Fan Favorite – Alex Hoehn (USA), Aevolo Cycling

Stage 6: American Kuss Conquers Another Mountain to Win 2018 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah

Kuss Grabs Third Stage Win at Finale of “America's Toughest Stage Race”

Young American Sepp Kuss of Team LottoNL-Jumbo successfully fended off all challengers to earn both the stage and overall title at the 2018 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah on Sunday. A dominant Kuss accelerated away from all competitors on the slopes of Empire Pass, one of the hardest climbs in the world, to win Stage 6 presented by Utah Sports Commission in front of huge crowds undeterred by rain. Kuss covered the 78.3-mile course in 3 hours and nine minutes.

Behind him, the chase was on for the stage and General Classification (G.C.) placings. Brent Bookwalter (USA) of BMC Racing Team and Jack Haig (AUS) of Mitchelton-Scott cut loose on the descent to the finish line on Historic Main Street in Park City. Bookwalter outsprinted Haig for second place on the stage, crossing the line eight seconds behind the winner.

“On the descent, in the cold rain, my legs just totally locked up. I definitely made a big effort of the climb before. The fans were so loud that I couldn't hear anything behind me, like anybody switching gears or anything. I thought if they pass me I won't even know because it's just so loud. I was just trying to drive all the way to the line but I was definitely suffering,” said Kuss, who won his third stage victory of the seven-day race. “On the descent, I'd never ridden the descent before so I didn't really know what to expect for the corners, it was a bit wet as well so I didn't want to take any chances at all. I knew that guys behind, especially like Brent, would probably take some chances. I just tried to ride a safe descent and try to make it to the finish line.”

Over the course of seven days of hard racing, two different riders wore the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Overall Leader’s yellow jersey, Prologue winner Tejay van Garderen (USA) of BMC Racing Team and Kuss, who climbed into the lead on Stage 2 in Payson. The final G.C. time for Kuss was 21 hours and 41 minutes.

Ben Hermans (BEL) of Israel Cycling Academy moved into second overall on Saturday and clinched second place on Sunday, 2 minutes and nine seconds back. Haig and Bookwalter moved up to third and fourth overall, respectively. Defending champion Rob Britton (CAN) of Rally Cycling placed 15th. Van Garderen finished 18th overall.

The 14th edition of the Tour of Utah, known as “America’s Toughest Stage Race” included 548 miles of racing and 43,780 feet of elevation gain for the 2.HC stage race. The start of Stage 6 presented by Utah Sports Commission featured a group of 15 riders who broke away from the 101-rider peloton at the first of two Utah Sports Commission Sprint lines in Kamas. The move included Evan Huffman (Rally), Nicola Conci (Trek-Segafredo), Griffin Easter (303 Project), UnitedHealthcare duo of Daniel Jaramillo and Gavin Mannion, Nate Brown (EF Education First-Drapac), Brayan Sanchez (Holowesko-Citadel), Jordan Cheyne (Elevate-KHS), Ulises Castillo and Lionel Mawditt of Jelly Belly, Damiano Cima (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Emile Jean (Silber), Tony Baca (303 Project) and Mitchelton-Scott teammates Rob Power and Sam Bewley.

Second in the KOM competition, Jaramillo took top points ahead of Baca, Easter and Castillo as the break crested the first KOM of the day, the Category 2 climb up Wolf Creek.Huffman dropped back from the field to connect with his teammate Kyle Murphy who was chasing with Isaiah Newkirk (303 Project). The goal was to bridge the 3:45 gap. Huffman turned himself inside out to bring Murphy up, closing the gap after 20 miles of hard chasing with Empire Pass looming.

Kept on a short leash by Team LottoNL-Jumbo, the escapees saw their gap decrease from a maximum of four minutes to just two minutes and 30 seconds on the bottom of Empire Pass, the second Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain climb. Brown put in the first big dig, taking Conci, Power, Jaramillo with him. Brown put another big dig, took a flyer and hoped for the best.

“I knew I needed a good three minutes on Sepp at the bottom of the climb to even have a chance. We had two and half so it was touch and go. I just had to ride at my own pace. I put in an attack and settled in and it was enough to drop the other breakaway guys. I just rode my own pace and I hoped it was enough to hold on for the win. Obviously Sepp is riding incredible and he caught me near the top and the other guys caught me. But, I can't see that I didn't try, I put everything out there on the road and I'm very happy with way I rode and it is what it is,” said Brown.

Haig put in the first big attack in the decimated field. An isolated Kuss responded immediately, leaving all the others behind halfway through the 7.7-mile climb, with a maximum gradient of 23 percent, Kuss powered away from the decimated peloton for the win. Kuss caught and passed all the remnants of the break as the battle for podium and GC positions raged behind him.

“When Jack went, I was feeling okay, but he definitely had me on the ropes there. I was pulling through to keep pace on the climb because it's kind of pitchy. When I could see Nate up ahead, I thought maybe I'd go again for the stage win. It broke my heart a little bit to pass him, he's one of the good guys,” Kuss said with a laugh. “Once I just had the idea to go again for the win.”

Haig, Keegan Swirbul (Jelly Belly), Hugh Carthy (EF Education First-Drapac), Bookwalter, Hermans all surged and then dropped back trying to survive the touch climb. Kuss had a 43-second gap to Carthy when he crested Empire Pass and started the fast descent into Park City. A descent made trickier by roads dampened by a brief rainstorm a few minutes earlier.

“Yesterday I hurt myself a lot by trying to follow Sepp,” said Hermans. “I didn't want to make that same mistake again so I did my own tempo from the bottom to the top so I was still 20 seconds behind those guys. The gap was manageable to finish on the podium and even keep second place.”

Bookwalter suffered up the climb, trying to keep his competitors close by. “I could see a few guys in front of me, and they were just five, ten seconds and I was just turning myself inside out to hold them. I had Mike Woods on my wheel for awhile, cracking me morale-wise because he wasn't going to pull through because he had his two guys up there. I just really stayed focused on doing my own ride, like a couple of years ago when I was here. I was suffering so much at the top, I had planned an attack on the downhill but I had nothing left at the top and I thought I can't do it and then just caught my breath for two quick seconds over the top, and thought ‘why not’, we've come all this way, just try to go and anything is still possible.”

Bookwalter and Haig took advantage that Kuss was cautious on the descent, “Sepp had a pretty good cushion in the GC, and I didn't think he was going to be hanging it out there too much. So I was still telling myself to keep believing and dreaming and maybe we'll catch him on the downhill. It didn't work out for the stage win and happy to be up there and second on the stage,” added Bookwalter.

“I knew that the differences were made at the lower altitudes of all the climbs. So today I made the difference down the bottom of Empire Pass today,” Haig said. “Then on the descent, me and Brent worked a little bit together and got a gap across one of the smaller risers before the start of the proper descent into town. Yeah, we descended fast and it wasn't that much fun descending that quickly coming into Park City in the rain but that's racing.”

Kuss still had an eight-second lead by the time he crossed the finish line. “Coming from Durango, there's a lot of connections to the Utah area. It's cool to see familiar faces. I think that what makes the race special, everyone is super enthusiastic, respectful fans and it has that kind of American flair. It's fun to be here,” said the 23-year-old rider, who claimed the biggest victory of his career in his second appearance at the Tour of Utah.

Nathan Brown (USA) of EF Education First-Drapac presented by Cannondale, who led numerous attacks in the break, was awarded the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider jersey. His team won the Best Team Classification.

“The last time I did this race was 2013 and I didn't finish, so that just tells you how hard it is. I came back here to prove to myself that I could get through it. It’s super hard and that also makes this race that much harder. The quality of the field is one of the best I've seen in the U.S.,” said Brown who held on to finish ninth on the stage.

Kuss also claimed the Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain jersey. Travis McCabe (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team successfully defended the Utah Sports Commission Sprint jersey. Placing eighth overall put 20-year-old Luis Villalobos (MEX) of Aevolo Cycling in the WCF Insurance Best Young Rider jersey. Fans selected Utah-native Taylor “TJ” Eisenhart (USA) of Holowesko-Citadel presented by Arapahoe Resources as the America First Credit Union Fan Favorite in the Overall Fan Favorite category.

Stage 6 presented by Utah Sports Commission

  1. KUSS Sepp (USA), TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 3.09'22”
  2. BOOKWALTER Brent (USA), BMC RACING TEAM – 3.09'30” +8″
  3. HAIG Jack (AUS), MITCHELTON-SCOTT – 3.09'30” +8″
  4. CARTHY Hugh John (GBR), EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE – 3.09'49” +27″
  5. SWIRBUL Keegan (USA), JELLY BELLY pb MAXXIS – 3.09'50” +28″

FINAL GENERAL CLASSIFICATION – Top 10

  1. KUSS Sepp (USA), TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 21.41'12”
  2. HERMANS Ben (BEL), ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY – 21.43'21” +2'09”
  3. HAIG Jack (AUS), MITCHELTON-SCOTT – 21.43'33” +2'21”
  4. BOOKWALTER Brent (USA), BMC RACING TEAM – 21.43'51” +2'39”
  5. CARTHY Hugh John (GBR), EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE – 21.43'54” +2'42”
  6. DOMBROWSKI Joseph Lloyd (USA), EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE – 21.44'10” +2'58”
  7. SWIRBUL Keegan (USA), JELLY BELLY pb MAXXIS – 21.44'51” +3'39”
  8. VILLALOBOS HERNANDEZ Luis Ricardo (MEX), AEVOLO MEX 21.45'09” +3'57”
  9. WOODS Michael (CAN), EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE – 21.45'50” +4'38”
  10. STETINA Peter (USA), TREK-SEGAFREDO – 21.47'02” +5'50”

AWARD JERSEYS

  • Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall leader – Sepp Kuss (USA), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
  • Utah Sports Commission Sprint leader – Travis McCabe (USA), UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
  • Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain – Sepp Kuss (USA), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
  • WCF Insurance Best Young Rider – Luis Villalobos (MEX), Aevolo Cycling
  • Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider – Nathan Brown (USA), EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale
  • America First Credit Union Fan Favorite – Taylor “TJ” Eisenhart (USA), Holowesko-Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources

2019 Tour of Utah

Pending final UCI approval, the tentative race dates for the 2019 Tour of Utah will be Aug. 12-18. “Congratulations to all the riders in America’s Toughest Stage Race and our worthy champion. Through the heat, smoke and altitude, you were all very impressive. We hope everyone enjoyed this showcase of the state of Utah and sport of cycling,” said Tour of Utah Managing Director John Kimball.

Bookwalter, who has ridden the Tour of Utah 11 times, added similar insights about the race. “My first time in (Utah) was 2008. It intimidated me and it was so daunting to get through it. I’m probably not as intimidated by it now as I was then, but it's still challenging. The heat, the altitude, (and) the competition is just getting higher and higher, and raised up every year. America's Toughest Stage Race is an accurate description and I'm happy it's back in 2019.”

The break rides through the Park City country roads. Stage 5 of the 2018 Tour of Utah, August 10, 2018. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim, www.cottonsoxphotography.net
Tejay Van Garderen (BMC) wins the Prologue in St. George, Utah. 2018 Tour of Utah Team Prologue, August 6, 2018, St. George, Utah. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim, cottonsoxphotography.net
Local favorite TJ Eisenhart (Holowesko-Citadel) on Mount Nebo. 2018 Tour of Utah Stage 2, August 8, 2018, Payson, Utah. Photo by Steve Sheffield, flahute.com
The peloton, led by the LottoNL-Jumbo team, nears the KOM in Wolf Creek Ranch, Stage 6, Tour of Utah. Photo by Steven Sheffield
The peloton, led by the LottoNL-Jumbo team nears the top of the second KOM at Guardsman Pass. Photo by Steven Sheffield
The peloton. 2018 Tour of Utah Stage 1, August 7, 2018, Cedar City, Utah. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim, cottonsoxphotography.net
The early break on the first climb. 2018 Tour of Utah Stage 1, August 7, 2018, Cedar City, Utah. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim, cottonsoxphotography.net
Best Young Rider Luis Villalobos (Aevolo) on the PIne Canyon Road climb to Empire Pass, Stage 6, Tour of Utah. Photo by Steven Sheffield
Travis McCabe (UHC) wins again. 2018 Tour of Utah Stage 3, August 8, 2018, Layton, Utah. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim, cottonsoxphotography.net
Stage 3 started at Antelope Island but T-Rex was the only creature in site. 2018 Tour of Utah Stage 3, August 8, 2018, Layton, Utah. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim, cottonsoxphotography.net
Mt. Nebo. 2018 Tour of Utah Stage 2, August 8, 2018, Payson, Utah. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim, cottonsoxphotography.net
Sepp Kuss, just above Tanner's Flat, on his way to winning Stage 5 of the 2018 Tour of Utah, Little Cottonwood Canyon. Photo by Dave Iltis
Done. 2018 Tour of Utah Stage 4, August 8, 2018, Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim, cottonsoxphotography.net
The peloton heads up the super steep Start/Finish climb. 2018 Tour of Utah Stage 4, August 8, 2018, Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim, cottonsoxphotography.net
Sepp Kuss crests Empire Pass on his way to victory in Stage 6 and the overall of the 2018 Tour of Utah. Park City, Utah. Photo by Dave Iltis
Sepp Kuss (LottonNL-Jumbo), your 2018 Tour of Utah winner. 2018 Tour of Utah Stage 6, August 12, 2018, Park City, Utah. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim, cottonsoxphotography.net
The ‘Richard Simmons Twins' cheer on a Hagens Berman rider at Tanners Flat in Stage 5 of the 2018 Tour of Utah, Little Cottonwood Canyon. Photo by Dave Iltis
Sepp Kuss (Lotto NL-Jumbo) on a solo attack over the final kilometers of the Little Cottonwood Canyon climb to win Stage 5 and retain the leader's Yellow Jersey on the Queen Stage – Canyons ski resort to Snowbird ski resort, 2018 LHM Tour of Utah cycling race (Photo by Dave Richards, daverphoto.com)
Cowbell at Empire Pass in Stage 6 of the 2018 Tour of Utah. Park City, Utah. Photo by Dave Iltis
Jelly Belly rider Cormac McGeough stops to kiss his girlfriend on Empire Pass in Stage 6 of the 2018 Tour of Utah. Isaiah Newkirk of 303 Project rides by with a big smile. Park City, Utah. Photo by Dave Iltis
The pace picks up early during Stage 4 Salt Lake City, 2018 LHM Tour of Utah cycling race (Photo by Dave Richards, daverphoto.com)
Safety in numbers as a small grupetto rides up the final climb on Stage 5 Queen Stage – Canyons ski resort to Snowbird ski resort, 2018 LHM Tour of Utah cycling race (Photo by Dave Richards, daverphoto.com)
Fans greet the riders with shouts of encouragement. Stage 5 Queen Stage – Canyons ski resort to Snowbird ski resort, 2018 LHM Tour of Utah cycling race (Photo by Dave Richards, daverphoto.com)
Pain is etched across the face of Sepp Kuss (Lotto NL-Jumbo) as surges up the final kilometer to win Stage 5 Queen Stage – Canyons ski resort to Snowbird ski resort, 2018 LHM Tour of Utah cycling race (Photo by Dave Richards, daverphoto.com)
Big sweeping curve in the road. Stage 3 Antelope Island to Layton, 2018 LHM Tour of Utah cycling race (Photo by Dave Richards, daverphoto.com)
Philipsen (Hagens Berman Axeon) wins the sprint by a tire wiidth to take Stage 4 Salt Lake City, 2018 LHM Tour of Utah cycling race (Photo by Dave Richards, daverphoto.com)
The peloton rolls under the Eagle Gate Monument during Stage 4 Salt Lake City, 2018 LHM Tour of Utah cycling race (Photo by Dave Richards, daverphoto.com)
Sepp Kuss (Team Lotto NL_Jumbo) celebrates his solo win of Stage 2, 2018 LHM Tour of Utah cycling race (Photo by Dave Richards, daverphoto.com)
Riders deep in the pain cave on the steep slopes of Mount Nebo. Stage 2, 2018 LHM Tour of Utah cycling race (Photo by Dave Richards, daverphoto.com)
TV cameras focus on Sepp Kuss (Team Lotto NL_Jumbo) while neutral support Mavic is ready to help out should Sepp have a flat tire. Stage 2, 2018 LHM Tour of Utah cycling race (Photo by Dave Richards, daverphoto.com)
The peloton is greeted by American flags. Stage 3 Antelope Island to Layton, 2018 LHM Tour of Utah cycling race (Photo by Dave Richards, daverphoto.com)
Silber Pro Cycling races the Prologue set in the redrocks of St. George. 2018 Tour of Utah Team Prologue, August 6, 2018, St. George, Utah. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim, cottonsoxphotography.net
Race leader Sepp Kuss (yellow) and the main peloton crest Guardsman Pass in Stage 5 of the 2018 Tour of Utah, August 10, 2018. Photo by Cathy Fegan-Kim, www.cottonsoxphotography.net
Adam Roberge screaming down the descent towards the finish line. Prologue time trial, 2018 Tour of Utah. Photo by Steven Sheffield
Nicolas Masbourian reaching to grab a fresh bottle and ice sock from soigneur Émilie Roy. Stage 4, 2018 Tour of Utah. Photo by Steven Sheffield
A view from the caravan in stage 1 of the 2018 Tour of Utah. Photo by Steven Sheffield
This is where the mechanics really earn their paychecks, back at the hotel after the stage. Here Christian LeDuc washes and examines all the team wheels, while Richard Knutson washes the bikes, and Yohan Patry tunes the newly cleaned bikes. Stage 5, 2018 Tour of Utah. Photo by Steven Sheffield
Philipsen (right) beats McCabe in a photo finish in stage 4 of the 2018 Tour of Utah. Photo by Dave Iltis
Phillipsen beats McCabe at the line by millimeters. 2018 Tour of Utah Stage 4, August 8, 2018, Salt Lake City, Utah. Photo by One2Go Event Services
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