By Jared Eborn
New venues to include Powder Mountain and Evanston, Wyoming.
Entering its tenth year, the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah is getting bigger – so big, in fact, it’s stretched outside the Beehive State’s boundaries for the first time.
The Tour of Utah – which began as a small, two-day stage race based in Utah County and is now a race with global interest stretching from Southern Utah’s color country to the Wasatch Front’s most demanding canyons.
In 2014, for the first time ever, the race will include a section of road outside the state’s borders as Stage 5 of the race will start in Evanston, Wyoming – just a few miles across the border – and send its world class peloton over the Mirror Lake Highway before a long, rapid descent with a finish in Kamas.
“Each year the Tour of Utah has the opportunity to break new ground by showcasing the sport to different parts of the state, and our selection of host cities and venues in 2014 is no exception,” Miller Sports Properties and Tour of Utah president Steve Miller said. “The addition of a seventh day of racing allows us to expand to new territories like Powder Mountain and Evanston, Wyoming, as well as build upon the tremendous racing we experienced in southern Utah last year and our traditional finish in Park City.”
By adding a seventh stage, the Tour of Utah – to be held from August 4 through August 10 – hopes to attract additional UCI Pro Tour teams in conjunction with the US Pro Challenge in Colorado two weeks after the Tour of Utah.
That seventh day of racing, USA Cycling’s Sean Petty said, is a big step.
“Every day the world is watching the Tour of Utah is a day the world is watching cycling in America,” Petty said, “and a day the world is not watching cycling in Europe. So growing to seven stages, with the US Pro Challenge following, means the cycling world’s eyes will be on the U.S.”
As was the case in 2013, the Tour of Utah will begin in the southern end of the state. Instead of kicking things off at Brian Head’s 10,000-foot elevation, Stage 1 will begin and end in Cedar City.
Stage 2 will be more familiar as the peloton heads from Panguitch, past Bryce Canyon national park and finishes in Torrey near Capitol Reef National Park.
In keeping with the tradition of modifying stage routes and adding new venues, the Tour of Utah will have one of northern Utah’s most difficult climbs.
After Stage 4 starts in Ogden, the rugged climb to Powder Mountain Ski Resort will offer up an early separation of the field as only the strongest climbers will be left in contention for the overall lead with three stages yet to go.
“We are genuinely excited to bring the Tour of Utah to these communities and thank them for supporting the race,” Miller said.
The tenth edition of the Tour of Utah will again lack a time trial. But that doesn’t mean the race will skip one of its most familiar venues.
After transfer from southern Utah to Lehi for a Stage 3 start, the race will meander through the west side of Utah County and into the Tooele Valley for what is certain to be a frantic finish for the sprinters at Miller Motorsports Park.
After that, however, the Tour of Utah unloads on the riders and each subsequent stage involves climbing and lots of it.
Stage 5 will feature a long climb that last roughly 45 miles from Evanston to the Bald Mountain Summit at 10,759 feet. A 30-mile descent will likely be followed by a challenging loop or two through rural Summit County before finishing back in Kamas.
But because some things about the Tour of Utah are just right and needn’t be changed drastically, the final two stages of the race will be quite familiar.
Stage 6 will be the Queen Stage of the race and will start in Salt Lake City and end at Snowbird Ski and Mountain Resort – but not before a series of brutal climbs in various canyons further splits the field apart.
Stage 7 is a Park City to Park City loop that will likely include the epic climb up Empire Pass where Team Garmin-Sharp’s Tom Danielson pulled away from eventual Vuelta España champion Chris Horner to claim the 2013 Tour of Utah victory.
Six teams have already been confirmed to participate in the 2014 Tour of Utah.
The Belkin Pro Cycling Team will make its Tour of Utah debut. BMC Racing Team, Orica Greenedge, Gramin-Sharp and Trek Factory Racing will all return to the Tour of Utah while fan-favorite Jelly Belly presented by Maxxis will be back in the Tour of Utah with current U.S. Pro road racing champ Freddy Rodriguez.
2014 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah
Stage 1 – Cedar City – Cedar City
Stage 2 – Panguitch – Torrey
Stage 3 – Lehi – Miller Motorsports Park
Stage 4 – Ogden – Powder Mountain
Stage 5 – Evanston, Wyo. – Kamas
Stage 6 – Salt Lake City – Snowbird
Stage 7 – Park City – Park City