Top 10 in the General Classification Remains Unchanged with Majority of Climbing to Come
By Lyne Lamoureux – 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 4 presented by Zions Bank returns to downtown Salt Lake City on Friday, Aug. 10 with a modified course. The start/finish line has moved from Capitol Hill to North Main Street, with an amazing backdrop of the Salt Lake City skyline. The riders will tackle 10 laps of the 6.8-mile downtown course for a total of 68.4 miles (110.1 km) and 5,500 of elevation gain. It is the 11th year that Salt Lake City has served as a stage host, and a seventh time for a circuit course downtown.
“It's heavy course. It does wear on you,” Britton described the upcoming Stage 4. “I think you're going to see a smaller group, a bunch kick almost certainly. It's so fast on the last few laps that it all comes back together. I think you'll probably see a similar Top Five finish that you saw today and Stage 1.”
Stage 3 presented by America First Credit Union
- MCCABE Travis (USA), UNITEDHEALTHCARE – 4.04'47”
- PHILIPSEN Jasper (BEL), HAGENS BERMAN AXEON – 4.04'47”
- AVILA VANEGAS Edwin Alcibiades (COL), ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY – 4.04'47”
- CASTILLO SOTO Ulises Alfredo (MEX), JELLY BELLY pb MAXXIS – 4.04'47”
- CIMA Imerio (ITA), NIPPO-VINI FANTINI-EUROPA OVINI – 4.04'47”
- COTE Pier-Andre (CAN), SILBER PRO CYCLING – 4.04'47”
- BASSETTI Samuel (USA), ELEVATE-KHS PRO CYCLING – 4.04'47”
- MAGNER Tyler (USA), RALLY CYCLING – 4.04'47”
- POWLESS Neilson (USA), TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 4.04'47”
- REIJNEN Kiel (USA), TREK-SEGAFREDO – 4.04'47”
GENERAL CLASSIFICATION (After Stage 3) – Top 10
- KUSS Sepp (USA), TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 11.54'24”
- POWLESS Neilson (USA), TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 11.54'43” +19″
- VAN GARDEREN Tejay (USA), BMC RACING TEAM – 11.54'49” +25″
- WOODS Michael (CAN), EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE – 11.55'00” +36″
- MURPHY Kyle (USA), RALLY CYCLING – 11.55'01” +37″
- DOMBROWSKI Joe (USA), EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE – 11.55'02” +38″
- MANNION Gavin (USA), UNITEDHEALTHCARE – 11.55'02” +38″
- CARTHY Hugh John (GBR), EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE – 11.55'02” +38″
- HAIG Jack (AUS), MITCHELTON-SCOTT – 11.55'04” +40″
- BOOKWALTER Brent (USA), BMC RACING TEAM – 11.55'04” +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 – Rob Britton (CAN), Rally Cycling
- America First Credit Union Fan Favorite – Alex Howes (USA), EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale