By Tyler Wren — Even though we are still solidly in the midst of our Utah winter, the 2012 road cycling season has begun in earnest around the globe. I wanted to use this entry to talk about the US races that will be the most interesting to cycling fans, and to give you readers this rider’s perspective of them. These are the races that can generate broad appeal in cycling and that bring the world’s cycling fans’ attention here stateside. I hope our racing calendar here continues to have world-class events like ones in here in Utah and in California, New Mexico and Colorado.
Tour of Utah, August. Because Salt Lake City is my adopted hometown, this race holds tremendous personal appeal to me. As many of you know, this event has world-class courses that would be challenging for any professional. The final queen stage to Snowbird could be a decisive mountain stage at the Tour de France. Dangerous descents, unpredictable high desert mountain weather- more elements to create a dramatic race. Home-court advantage is a measurable phenomenon across many sports. Having major European teams and riders fresh off the Tour de France and Olympic Games here on my home roads in Utah will be the biggest motivation I have all year.
Amgen Tour of California, May. The big show. Somewhere during this race every year, I go from feeling giddy & starstruck to nearly apathetic. A dozen major European teams send squads filled with many of the sports biggest stars to this race. We arrive days in advance (one year it was six days prior) and the anticipation grows as we spot Tour de France winners and world champions around the hotel and dining tables. As the race unfolds we domestic teams begin to realize why those guys get paid the big bucks- the courses and racing are more difficult than any we’ve seen here before. One year my face followed the lead of the rest of my body and started getting sore ¬— maybe from all the grimacing. This race is brutal suffering at its best and produces worthy champions every day- not to be missed.
Tour of the Gila, Silver City New Mexico, April. This race has always held a special place in my heart. Jumping from the domestic calendar to the international one this year, Gila will surely attract a stronger field and more attention than it ever has before. I’m a climber, so I look forward to this race every year. Like the Tour of Utah, Gila has mountain top finishes, field sprint days, high-altitude mountain passes, and a difficult time trial- all the elements that create a dynamic and interesting race.
USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Colorado, August. My team missed out on the invitation to this new event last year, but, like California and Utah, it attracted big teams and huge names. Placed just a few weeks after the Tour, in tandem with the Tour of Utah, this is a great chance for motivated Americans to topple big names who are in the dog days of a long season. The mountains they chose for the route in 2011 are not as challenging as they could or should be however, in my opinion, and from what I heard from my friends in the peloton. Every year is a learning process for the promoters though, and the 2012 route looks very difficult, starting with the opening Durango to Telluride stage and finishing six days later in Denver.
I hope that I helped you understand which cycling events are the most relevant here in the States. The US market is hugely important for many of the big European cycling sponsors, so they will always be looking for quality events here for their riders. My personal ambition is to capitalize on the opportunities that creates for domestic professionals like myself by getting on the podiums at some of these important events. I look forward to sharing with you here the realization of those aims. Thanks for reading, Tyler
Tyler Wren is a professional cyclist for the Jamis/Sutter Home Professional Men’s Cycling Team living in downtown Salt Lake City. He also coaches athletes and is available for cyclocross and road cycling clinics. To find out more information, contact Tyler at [email protected] or 610-574-1334.