Overall General Classification Lead Retained by Kuss on Eve of Queen Stage Battle
By Lyne Lamoureux – August 10, 2018 – 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 5 presented by University of Utah Health on Saturday, Aug. 11, hails the return of the notorious “Queen Stage,” with 9,975 feet of elevation gain. The penultimate day of the Tour of Utah will feature 94.8 miles (152.6 km) of racing from a new start at Canyons Village in Park City to the signature finish at Snowbird Resort.
The undulating terrain of Summit County includes an early KOM at Jordanelle Reservoir, a sprint at Wolf Creek Ranch, and a two-mile stretch of dirt road on Democrat Alley. The route then goes through historic Park City for a second sprint line of the day and the ascent of the Category 1 KOM at Guardsman Pass. A blistering 15-mile descent of Big Cottonwood Canyon leads to the Salt Lake Valley below and a short traverse along Wasatch Boulevard. Then it is on to the Hors Category climb up Little Cottonwood Canyon, the signature six-mile battle across gradients of eight to 12 percent to the finish line at Snowbird Resort. The race has finished at Snowbird Resort 11 times, and only twice has the winner of the stage worn the winner’s jersey at the end of the week.
Stage 4 presented by Zions Bank
- PHILIPSEN Jasper (BEL), HAGENS BERMAN AXEON – 2.35'04”
- MCCABE Travis (USA), UNITEDHEALTHCARE – 2.35'04
- REIJNEN Kiel (USA), TREK-SEGAFREDO – 2.35'04”
- BASSETTI Samuel (USA), ELEVATE-KHS PRO CYCLING – 2.35'04”
- AVILA VANEGAS Edwin Alcibiades (COL), ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY – 2.35'04”
- BOOKWALTER Brent (USA), BMC RACING TEAM – 2.35'04”
- CONCI Nicola (ITA), TREK-SEGAFREDO – 2.35'04”
- BENNETT Sean (USA), HAGENS BERMAN AXEON – 2.35'04”
- CASTILLO SOTO Ulises Alfredo (MEX), JELLY BELLY pb MAXXIS – 2.35'04”
- KUSS Sepp (USA), TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 2.35'04”
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION (After Stage 4) – Top 10
- KUSS Sepp (USA), TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 14.29'28”
- POWLESS Neilson (USA), TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 14.29'47” +19″
- VAN GARDEREN Tejay (USA), BMC RACING TEAM – 14.29'53” +25″
- WOODS Michael (CAN), EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE – 14.30'04” +36″
- MURPHY Kyle (USA), RALLY CYCLING – 14.30'05” +37″
- DOMBROWSKI Joseph Lloyd (USA), EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE – 14.30'06” +38
- MANNION Gavin (USA), UNITEDHEALTHCARE – 14.30'06” +38″
- CARTHY Hugh John (GBR), EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE – 14.30'06” +38″
- HAIG Jack (AUS), MITCHELTON-SCOTT – 14.30'08” +40″
- BOOKWALTER Brent (USA), BMC RACING TEAM – 14.30'08 +40″
- 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