By Jared Eborn
While the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah has gained international respect and acclaim for its rugged and demanding courses, its scenic terrain and stellar fields of competitors, there has been a growing chorus of cycling supporters hoping for more. This year, there are several other events to complement the Tour.
In particular, a women’s race to compete with the men.
In 2014, the Tour of Utah is giving its fans what they want.
Tour of Utah Women’s Edition
While the professional men are racing from Lehi to Tooele for Stage 3, the Tour of Utah will roll out the first Tour of Utah Women’s Edition – a $10,000 circuit race to be held on August 6 at Miller Motorsports Park.
“This is the first time in the 10-year history of the Tour of Utah that women's elite and professional cycling will be featured,” Alex Kim, director of the DNA Cycling-K4 Racing team said. Kim is also the race director for the Tour of Utah Women’s Edition. “We are pleased to showcase some of the best professional women in the sport, and provide a prize purse that is equal to the men’s event for a single day of stage racing.”
The women’s race, scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m., will be held as a lead up to the men’s Stage 3 finish on the same race track. With 15 laps of fast-paced action, the Tour of Utah Women’s Edition will begin a long day of cycling action at Miller Motorsports Park.
With national champions and international professionals – as well as local elites representing teams such as DNA Cycling-K4, Canyon Bicycles and Intermountain LiVeWell – the race is just the start of the two-wheeled fun.
The men’s peloton will pedal into the race track at approximately 3:00 p.m. and thrill spectators with a few laps around the MMP circuit before what is expected to be an adrenaline-pumping sprint finish.
Cedar City Gran Prix
The Tour of Utah is also seeing a surge in unofficially-associated events. In Cedar City, after the professionals depart for Stage 1 on August 4, a star-studded field of professional and elite women will race on the city’s closed circuit course. Former pro cyclist, Cedar City resident and Southern Utah University professor Nicky Wangsgard came up with the idea to compliment the Tour of Utah with a women’s race in her hometown while the men were tearing up the mountains above town. Though not an official part of the Tour of Utah, the Zappos Cedar City Gran Prix has the blessing of Tour of Utah organizers to race on the finishing circuit and turn the opening day into a longer cycling celebration.
Chase Pinkham Memorial Criterium
After the pros wrap up their awards presentation following Stage 3 on August 6, it’s time for elite races, local amateurs and juniors to take to the track. The Chase Pinkham Memorial Criterium will feature eight races in four flights on the Miller Motorsports Park west track. The 2.2 mile circuit will have two fields of racers competing at the same time beginning at 5 p.m. and going until the sun sets on Utah’s west desert horizon.
A $4,000 purse with numerous prime laps in each race is designed to bring out the best racers in Utah and the region as they chase victory. Prime prizes will provide incentive to keep the pace fast and furious. With races ranging from Pro/Cat 1 men and women – each with a $1,500 prize purse dangling in front of them – to juniors, the Miller Motorsports Park courses provide one of the fastest and safest racing environments imaginable. With a closed course and a surface designed to handle the fastest racing motorcycles and cars in the world, the sweeping turns and mildly banked corners mean using the brake lever may not happen much as each field accelerates through turns and pushes the limit for primes.
Not to be forgotten, the Tour of Utah continues to sponsor The Ultimate Challenge – a fully-supported, non-competitive amateur ride that covers the same course the professional peloton will race on later that day. This year The Ultimate Challenge will be held on August 9 starting in Salt Lake City and finishing at the Snowbird Ski & Summer Resort. The 109-mile route will challenge riders with more than 10,000 feet of climbing and a front row view to the finish line as the pros polish off the Tour of Utah’s Queen Stage in Little Cottonwood Canyon.