By Jackie Tyson –
The nickname is “America’s Toughest Stage Race” and the 2018 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah will live up to famous label. This year the men’s professional teams in the UCI 2.HC cycling stage race will face 536 miles of racing and 43,780 feet of elevation gain. The 14th edition of the Tour of Utah will take place Aug. 6-12.
When we say tough, we mean climbing. The Tour of Utah course will offer a total of nine Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain (KOM) climbs. It is the fifth time in 14 years that the Tour has included more than 43,000 feet of climbing. The highest climb of the race comes on Stage 1 near the ski resort town of Brian Head at 10,600 feet above sea level. Returning to the Tour are the summits of three legendary climbs — Mount Nebo, Little Cottonwood Canyon and Empire Pass, the latter two classified as Hors Category (HC, or beyond classification). Mount Nebo is the highest mountain in the Wasatch Range. The six-mile ascent of Little Cottonwood Canyon will take riders to the “Queen Stage” finish at Snowbird Resort on Stage 5 and the seven-mile incline across Empire Pass with pitches of more than 20 percent will set up the showdown in Park City for Stage 6 on the final day of racing.
All the climbs are great places to watch the best pro cyclists in the world race, and suffer. What is the best way to enjoy all the thrills and spills, the whirl of color and sound, the attacks and sprints? We asked two of the pros to provide some insider information about the best ways to enjoy this year’s Tour of Utah – – Brent Bookwalter of BMC Racing Team and TJ Eisenhart of Holowesko-Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources.
Bookwalter a stage winner and fifth on G.C. at the 2017 Tour of Utah, as well as the Points Classification winner and third on G.C. in 2015. Since the Tour has been a UCI stage race (2011), he’s been on the podium for seven times.
Eisenhart finished 11th on G.C. last year, and in 2016, racing as a stagiere for BMC Racing Team, he was seventh on G.C. and second in the Best Young Rider Classification.
In addition to some insight from the pros, there are some tips on what is happening in each host venue. Enjoy a day at the race, or make a week of it. Make sure to download the app for Tour Tracker presented by Adobe so you catch every pedal stroke. It is the ONLY stage race in North America that provides live start-to-finish coverage!
Tour of Utah Kickoff Party
Saturday, Aug. 4 beginning at 3:30 p.m.
Teams introduced at 5:15 p.m.
Greenshow Stage, Beverley Center for the Arts
200 West University Blvd., Cedar City, Utah 84720
Race week begins with the Tour of Utah Kickoff Party in Cedar City. This is a free event for spectators in a relaxed environment on Saturday prior to the overall race start in St. George. The Kickoff Party is free and will take place at the Ashton Family Greenshow Commons on the campus of Southern Utah University. The Greenshow Commons provides a grassy knoll with bench seating and a wooden stage for entertainment. Following music and games, all the professional teams competing in the Tour of Utah will be introduced. The top riders from each team will be interviewed by one of the race announcers. Spectators are encouraged to bring a camera to capture photos of favorite athletes. Reserved seating with complimentary beverages and food will be available as a VIP Experience Package, and details are available at TourofUtah.com.
EVERY DAY DURING RACE WEEK
Papa John’s Rider Sign-In and Autograph Alley
Bring a camera and a good pen to the start of the Prologue and each stage during race week. One hour before the races begin, fans are given access to all the riders for autographs and photographs. It is free for all spectators, and takes place adjacent to the announcer’s stage at the start line.
Kids Sprint to the Finish Bike Races presented by University of Utah Health
Children ages five to 12 have the opportunity to race their bicycles near the finish line used by the pros at six race locations. Two great reasons to participate – it’s free and it’s fun! To participate, a parent or guardian must sign a waiver at the University of Utah Health exhibit in the KUTV 2 Healthy Living Expo. Make sure each child brings his or her helmet, closed-toe shoes and a bicycle! Registration ends 15 minutes prior to each race (times listed are start times):
Sprint to the Finish Locations
- Monday, Aug. 6 — St. George (9:15 a.m.)
- Tuesday, Aug. 7 — Cedar City (1 p.m.)
- Wednesday, Aug. 8 — Payson City (1 p.m.)
- Thursday, Aug. 9 — Layton City (1 p.m.)
- Friday, Aug. 10 — Salt Lake City (tbd)
- Saturday, Aug. 11 – no race
- Sunday, Aug. 12 — Park City (1 p.m.)
KUTV 2 Healthy Living Expo
Plan to arrive early to any of the seven finish line host venues and spend some time at the KUTV 2 Healthy Living Expo. This free, interactive festival area and sponsor showcase serves as a gateway to the finish line every day. It provides an array of interactive exhibits, official Tour merchandise and live entertainment, including jumbo television screens to watch the race unfold as it heads to the finish. Listed below are the street addresses for each day’s finish line of the race, and the hours for the KUTV 2 Healthy Living Expo:
- Monday, Aug. 6 St. George – 469 Red Hills Pkwy, St. George, 84770 – 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- Tuesday, Aug. 7 Cedar City – 299 W Center St, Cedar City, 84720 – 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
- Wednesday, Aug. 8 Payson City – 275 S Main St, Payson, 84651 – 10:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
- Thursday, Aug. 9 Layton City – 465 N Wasatch Dr, Layton, 84041 – 12 p.m. to 3:45 p.m.
- Friday, Aug. 10 Salt Lake City – 215 North Main St, Salt Lake City, 84103 – 11 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
- Saturday, Aug. 5 Snowbird Resort – 100 Little Cottonwood Canyon, Snowbird 84092 – 12 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Sunday, Aug. 6 Park City – 250 Main St, Park City, 84060 – 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 6
3.3 miles (5.3 km) – 305 feet of climbing
Start Time 10 a.m.
Finish Time 12:30 p.m.
Start/Finish Location – 469 Red Hills Pkwy, St. George, UT 84770
The Tour of Utah will start in its southernmost venue in its 14-year history, St. George, Utah. And the Prologue is back, last included in the Tour in 2011 when a little-known Colombian named Sergio Henao surprised the favorites with his victory at Utah Olympic Park in Park City. Henao is now a team leader at Team Sky and winner of Paris Nice.
The Prologue in St George is going to be a hot and hard affair. The out-and-back course will take place on Red Hills Parkway, adjacent to Pioneer Park. Just like the name of the road implies, athletes and spectators alike will be treated to inspiring views of the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve. It provides a mellow climb for the first two kilometers, followed by a short downhill to the turnaround. This provides a short climb to begin the return and a rapid, straight downhill track to the finish. The time gaps will be small, but it will set the stage for a great week of racing.
“I always enjoy and appreciate when the Tour of Utah has a prologue or a non-uphill time trial, because it rounds out the race,” Bookwalter said. “By adding in a prologue, it balances out the race a bit and forces the climbers to be in their best form in the race against the clock. Additionally, it allows the other guys a chance to equalize the field before the big climbs.
“The profile of the 2018 prologue remains in line with the overall Tour of Utah theme with lots of big climbing. Being only five kilometers long means it requires a highly anaerobic effort that caters to a rider with a good short, five to six-minute power output. I expect that we will see some interesting results. The guys vying for the G.C. will be up there, but I think a shorter, more explosive specialist—someone who might not be there when we reach the big climbs—will take the win,” added Bookwalter.
The KUTV 2 Healthy Living Expo will be located adjacent to Red Hills Parkway outside the Red Hills Desert Garden.
Spectators will find Team Parking along the south side of Red Hills Parkway near the City Overlook Area.
There will be a shuttle for volunteers and spectators to access the start/finish line. The shuttle will run from the Dixie State University Testing Center, located at 954 E Tabernacle Street in St. George.
There will be an amateur time trial from 8:30-9:15 a.m., managed by the St. George Local Organizing Committee
Tuesday, Aug. 7
Stage 1 presented by America First Credit Union
Cedar City to Cedar City
101 miles (162.5 km) – 8,950 feet of climbing
Start Time 10:50 a.m.
Finish Time 3:15-3:45 p.m.
Start/Finish Location – 299 W Center St, Cedar City, UT 84720
Cedar City returns to the Tour for a fourth time. The stage features the highest climb of the week through Cedar Breaks National Monument, topping out at 10,600 feet. The course is similar to the one used in 2016, this year with a new circuit finish in downtown Cedar City.
The first Utah Sports Commission Sprint line will be contested in Parowan, 25 miles into the race. Then riders face a Category 1 climb up Parowan Canyon through Brian Head. This ascent into Cedar Breaks National Monument climbs 4,500 vertical feet in 15 miles, with some sections challenging riders with a 15 percent gradient.
“I am super excited to be back down south racing in Cedar City, and very excited about this year’s course,” said Eisenhart, who grew up in the Lehi area of Utah. “I spent a lot of time this year in Cedar City and in Brian Head. So I had some great opportunities to ride the beautiful roads that the race route will take. The climb over Brian Head up to Cedar Breaks is definitely not an easy climb. The climb has some very difficult pitches, and then adding into the mix the high altitude. It will be a very hard opening stage.”
The riders will traverse the Markagunt Plateau and serpentine through the Mammoth Creek lava flows. After turning west in Duck Creek, the riders will face a KOM at Bristlecone, named after the 2,500-year-old Bristlecone pine trees that line the summit.
Then it’s all downhill into the college town of Cedar City. The riders will complete three circuits around Cedar City and the campus of Southern Utah University. A new finish line will be placed in front of the new Southern Utah Museum of Art. International riders have dominated this stage, with all three winners coming from outside of the U.S. – – Greg Van Avermaet of Belgium in 2012, and Moreno Hofland of The Netherlands in 2013, and Kris Dahl of Canada in 2016.
“The last time we finished in Cedar City it was such a great vibe. The fans where incredible, the race ripping down Cedar Canyon was super awesome. Like always, Cedar City does an incredible job at promoting the race and getting the whole community out to support,” Eisenhart stated.
Stage 1 Tips:
The start/finish line is new, located in front of the Southern Utah Museum of Art, on the east side of the intersection of 300 West and University Blvd.
There will be five miles of neutral racing in downtown Cedar City for the start. There will be temporary rolling closures of intersections and roads (delays of 5 to 15 minutes) for the start. These roadways include
There are three circuits for the finish at Southern Utah University. The race finishing laps will take place from approximately 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. The circuit will take place in a clockwise pattern from 200 East to 1150 West and University/Center St. to 200 South.
Parking at Southern Utah University will limited due to the circuit around campus. Shakespeare patrons are encouraged to park in the parking lots on 200 south and 300 west. All other visitors attending the Lifestyle Expo/Velo Village are encouraged to park in the open lots near the SUU football stadium and SUU housing complex, behind downtown businesses, or in the Cedar City parking garage on 100 East.
In addition to hosting the KUTV 2 Healthy Living Expo, there will also be a Cedar City Velo Village, both adjacent to the start/finish area. The Velo Village will include live music, yoga classes, a climbing wall, dunk tank, craft area, a helicopter display and much more.
Wednesday, Aug. 8
Payson City to Payson City
88.6 miles (142.6 km) – 6,750 feet of climbing
Start Time 11:30 a.m.
Finish Time 3:45 p.m.
Start/Finish Location – 275 S. Main St, Payson, UT 84651
This stage is all about one thing – – Mount Nebo. The highest mountain in the Wasatch Range, at 11,928 feet, it has become legendary in the Tour of Utah. The first-ever edition of the Tour included Mount Nebo and it has now been included seven times. The last time the Tour traversed Mount Nebo was 2016 and Australian Lachlan Morton conquered the climb, and descent, to take the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Leader’s jersey. With Morton using the Tour of Utah as a springboard to a WorldTeam contract, he will not be back to Payson to defend his title, but there are many contenders to take the crown.
“It’s awesome that the Tour of Utah has always loved including the stellar climb Mount Nebo. The last time I raced it at Utah was 2016, when I stagiaired with BMC Racing Team. That was was my first pro race, and the first race where my family truly was able to watch me race,” Eisenhart recalled.
“That day was a super special day for me. It was a day I was just focused on doing my job for Darwin (Atapuma of Colombia). After I did my pull I looked back and realized I had a chance of finishing up in the Top 10. I knew my family was at the finish watching. Was incredible motivation to keep pushing and ripping. That was only my second time riding Mount Nebo. It will only be my third time this year,” Eisenhart said, who did finish seventh on the stage, right behind his teammate Atapuma, who was sixth.
In 2018, the route will start and finish in Payson, after a 12-mile circuit north of town into Utah County, the race will return to Payson for a sprint in front of historic Peteetneet Museum before coming back though the start/finish line at Memorial Park. The route will then travel south through the orchards and lavender fields along Old U.S. Highway 91 for a sprint line in Nephi, then the final push on the Category 1 ascent across Mount Nebo. The cyclists will summit the roadway at 9,300 feet for the one KOM on the day, then have a twisting 22-mile descent for the finish back into the classic western town of Payson. Expect a lone rider or some group over the top to make it to the finish together.
Stage 2 Tips:
Payson offers three chances to watch the Tour – the start, a Utah Sprint Commission Sprint line, and the finish.
The start/finish is in front of Memorial Park, 10 North 600 East, in Payson.
The sprint line is in front of the Peteetneet Museum, 10 North 600 East, in Payson.
Among the activities at the KUTV 2 Healthy Living Expo in the park are – live bands performing from 12:15-2:30 p.m., inflatable obstacle course, rock climbing wall, community mural painting, and more.
Food vendors at the Expo are include food trucks (Waffle Love, Kona Ice) and food tents (Pacific Island Grill, Lion’s Club)
A Mayor’s Ride will take place around Memorial Park from 1:30-2 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 9
Stage 3 presented by America First Credit Union
Antelope Island to Layton City
106 miles (170.6 km) – 4,350 feet of climbing
Start Time 11:25 a.m.
Finish Time 3:45 p.m.
Start Location – Fielding Garr Ranch, Antelope Island, UT
Finish Location – 465 N Wasatch Dr, Layton, UT 84041
Thursday gives the climbing legs a bit of a rest, but that in no way means Stage 3 is a rest day. It is the longest stage of the week, with the 106-mile route starting on the far end of Antelope Island at the Fielding Garr Ranch. It is the third time the Tour has started on the island. After a wind-swept seven miles over the causeway to cross the Great Salt Lake's Farmington Bay to the mainland, the race will serpentine through Davis County to the new finish in Layton City. The roads through Davis County might not be mountainous, but with an abundance of turns and road widths that vary every few hundred meters, it’s a tough and stressful day for the racers.
Sprint lines will be contested once in Syracuse and twice in Farmington. One short, steep KOM up the Bountiful Bench could be the launching pad for a late breakaway. On the return stretch from Bountiful through Farmington, the race will make a loop inside Hill Air Force Base for a second year. From the base, it will be 13 miles to the finish in Layton City. The race will use N. Fairfield Road to complete three circuits through Layton Commons Park. A stage winner will be crowned on North Wasatch Drive across from the park.
Stage 3 Tips:
Pre-race activities begin Wednesday night at Antelope Island State Park, with a children’s bicycle race at the marina at 6:30 p.m. and live music and free Dutch oven samples at the Visitor Center Amphitheater from 7-8:30 p.m.
New start at the Fielding Garr Ranch, on the southeastern portion of Antelope Island. Come early for the start festivities, with the first 200 children receiving free T-shirts.
In Bountiful, the race will use Pages Lane and 400 East to turn left on 400 North for one pass this year on the Bountiful Bench climb. This is the only KOM for the stage.
Farmington will see the peloton pass twice, as a Utah Sports Commission Sprint line will be contested in Farmington as the race passes in southbound to Bountiful, then northbound back to Layton. Enjoy chalk art and food trucks!
Before finishing in Layton City, the racers will make one circuit inside Hill Air Force Base, this year entering and departing through the South Gate on State Hwy 193.
Three finishing circuits will use N. Fairfield Road, E. Gentile Street, and Wasatch Drive, with the finish line between Layton High School and Layton Commons Park.
In Layton from 1:30-2:30 p.m. enjoy live performances by the Davis and Layton High School marching bands. More live music will be played throughout the day at the Expo.
Friday, Aug. 10
Stage 4 presented by Zions Bank
Salt Lake City
68.4 miles (110.1 km) – 5,500 feet of climbing
Start Time 12:35 p.m.
Finish Time 3:15-3:45 p.m.
Start/Finish Location – 215 North Main St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103
The Tour of Utah returns to downtown Salt Lake City with a slightly new course. It is the 11th year that Salt Lake City has served as a stage host, and a seventh time for a circuit course downtown. The start/finish line has moved from the Capital to Main St with an amazing backdrop of the Salt Lake City skyline.
“The classic Salt Lake City circuit is one of my favorite stages of the Tour of Utah because it brings us back into the city and in front of the great crowds that line the course. It is great to back racing in front of those rowdy crowds in Salt Lake City,” said Bookwalter, who finished second last year when Salt Lake City was the final stage.
The riders will tackle 10 laps of the 6.8-mile downtown course. The course will follow N. Main Street up to 500 North and through the old finish line area used in 2016, where Canadian Michael Woods won in dramatic fashion. The race will follow the traditional route through Bonneville Parkway to 11th Ave and down Virginia Ave through the University of Utah to South Temple, where the riders will turn up State St to North Temple and to the uphill finish on N. Main St. A strong sprinter, like Italian Marco Canola, who won the Salt Lake City stage last year just ahead of Bookwalter, will be the type of rider to watch for the win in Salt Lake City this year.
“The Salt Lake circuit is quite demanding in terms of climbing, but historically, the race is short enough that it doesn’t really explode. Both the length of the stage and the climb keeps everything together and the break never really earns any true time,” added Bookwalter. “This year, the finish is going to be much crazier. You are going to see a huge battle for position on those wide roads with everyone spread out and swarming for position. The last corner is where it will be won or lost.”
Stage 4 Tips:
2018 features a new start/finish in downtown at 215 N. Main Street.
The climb on Main Street at the start/finish will be a Utah Sports Commission Sprint line on Laps 3, 5 and 7.
The race will flow in a clockwise direction, passing under The Eagle Gate monument on each lap, turning on N. Temple to reach the start/finish on N. Main Street
Like past years, the race will pass Reservoir Park on three sides on each circuit, allowing for multiple opportunities to see the pros up close and at high speed. Enjoy food trucks and entertainment from a D.J. at the park.
Police will begin closing the roads to traffic on the circuit at approximately 12:45 p.m.
Each lap is expected to take approximately 20 minutes to complete.
Pedestrians are welcome to walk the course. However, we request that you stay on the sidewalks, and do not impede the movement of local residents, police and course marshals who will be using the respites between circuits to move people in and out of the neighborhoods.
Use a GREENbike to reach the course. Check the website for bike stations near the course – https://greenbikeslc.org/station-map.
Use Utah Transit Authority’s TRAX Blue Line or Green Line for easy access to course from the City Center stop (100 S. Main Street).
Saturday, Aug. 11
Stage 5 presented by University of Utah Health
Canyons Village to Snowbird Resort
94.8 miles (152.6 km) – 9,975 feet of climbing
Start Time 11:30 a.m.
Finish Time 3:45 p.m.
Start Location – 4000 Canyons Resort Dr, Park City, UT 84098
Finish Location – 100 Little Cottonwood Canyon, Snowbird, UT 84092
The Queen Stage returns for an 11th time to Snowbird Resort. The signature climb up Little Cottonwood Canyon is known for the fan frenzy of Tanners Flat and the shake out of contenders for the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies overall leader jersey at the finish. Only twice has the winner of this stage worn the winner’s jersey at the end of the week.
The professional teams take off from Canyons Village at 11:30 a.m. The undulating terrain of Summit County includes an early KOM past Deer Mountain 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 Peoa and up Browns Canyon to reach historic Park City for a second sprint line of the day and the ascent of the Category 1 KOM, 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 HC climb up Little Cottonwood Canyon for the signature six-mile battle across gradients of eight to 12 percent to the finish line at Snowbird Resort.
And pro cyclists are not the only ones on the route Saturday. Amateur riders in The Ultimate Challenge presented by University of Utah Health will ride the same roads on Saturday, beginning at 7:30 a.m. from Canyons Village. Registration for The Ultimate Challenge is available online for $140, with a team discount offered for groups of eight or more.
Stage 5 Tips:
Little Cottonwood Canyon Road will be closed to all vehicular and bicycle traffic between 1 to 5 p.m. Plan your arrival to the finish line accordingly.
Follow signs at Snowbird Resort to free spectator parking.
If you are traveling along Big Cottonwood Canyon and Little Cottonwood Canyon early Saturday, use caution and watch for cyclists who are riding The Ultimate Challenge.
On Friday, visit Canyons Village at Park City for the Tour of Utah‘s Ultimate Challenge Kick-Off Party. This includes packet pick-up for Ultimate Challenge riders, live music, and entertainment. The event is free and open for the public. All Ultimate Challenge riders, family members and friends can also enjoy the Dinner Party, 6-8 p.m. (fee for dinner and beverages).
On Saturday morning at Canyons Village, activities include a children’s bicycle race, face painting, chalk art, games and a Birds of Prey display. Ceremonies will be held for two starts – The Ultimate Challenge and the Tour of Utah.
Sunday, Aug. 12
Stage 6 presented by Utah Sports Commission
Park City to Park City
76.7 miles (123.4 km) – 7,950 feet of climbing
Start Time 12:15 p.m.
Finish Time 3:45 p.m.
Start/Finish Location – 250 Main St, Park City, UT 84060
After a one-year hiatus, Park City is back as the overall finish. Historic Park City entertains the Tour for a ninth time, and a sixth time for the overall race finish.
“Park City is back for an exhilarating finish. Crowds are always massive on the final climb to Empire Pass, but from past years we know the race never ends there. The descent down to Upper Main Street could be the decisive stretch of the 536 miles to crown a new champion,” said John Kimball, Managing Director of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.
The route will pass down Browns Canyon and encounter a Sprint line in the town of Kamas before tackling a short Category 3 KOM in the private community of Wolf Creek Ranch. A technical descent into Wasatch County will allow the riders to regroup through Heber City before the final sprint line in Midway. From there, riders will jockey for position at the bottom of Pine Canyon Road for the HC climb of Empire Pass. While the road conditions have improved with new pavement since it was last used in 2016, riders continue to battle road pitches of 10 to 20 percent.
What is TJ Eisenhart’s favorite climb, and the one he recommends as a must-see for race fans? “Empire, especially since it’s the final day,” the Utah native said. “Everyone will be sending it on that climb. All you can do is go full gas. Also, with how difficult the climb is, I think it’s a great climb for fans to be out.”
Like Kimball noted, the race doesn’t end at the top of Empire Pass as we saw in 2014, when former World Champion and Tour de France winner, Cadel Evans, erased a one-minute deficit on the descent into historic Park City to capture the stage win. In 2015, it was a sprint finish on Historic Main Street between Bookwalter and Aussie Lachlan Norris, with Norris reaching the line first. This year will be another epic overall finish.
Stage 6 Tips:
Spectators are encouraged to arrive early and get a viewing spot on Upper Main Street in Park City for the exciting finish. It is recommended to use Park City Transit on the day of the event, or via cycling, walking or carpooling to the event.
Limited paid public parking ($20/vehicle) will be available in the China Bridge parking structure. Access to China Bridge parking structure will be from Marsac Avenue only. Because China Bridge exits onto the race course, no vehicle parked in China Bridge will be allowed to exit China Bridge between 3-5 p.m.
For complete details on parking in Park City for Stage 6, visit www.tourofutah.com/stages/stage6
The popular Chalk Art activity returns to Main Street, beginning at 1:30 p.m.
A KÜHL Fashion Show will take place on the awards stage on upper Main Street.
For more information on the Tour of Utah, see https://www.cyclingutah.com/articles-about-tour-of-utah/ and also tourofutah.com