Monday, August 12, 2013

2013 Tour of Utah: Stage 4 Summary

A couple of photographs of the action:

The breakaway!

The peloton in hot pursuit!

Stage 4 of the Tour of Utah was raced at a hot tempo, Paco Mancebo attempted to escape, but the peloton paced by Garmin Sharp, sensing the danger, would not let him get away.  The tempo of the stage was incredibly fast.  On the last lap the gap was about fifteen seconds and it was a dead certainty that the peloton would catch the breakaway riders.  Glancing at the final stage results this outcome appears to have happened, not only that but the peloton seems to have unraveled a bit.  The stage was won by Michael Matthews (Orica-Green Edge) who seems to have attacked at an opportune moment with a surprise move that caught his rivals unprepared.

The crowds were very good, people were smiling and cheering on the riders all along the route.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

2013 Tour of Utah Preview

Batten down the hatches kiddies, it is time for the Tour of Utah!  There have been fundamental changes to the race with additions of pristine scenic beauty down south around Cedar City; then the race emerges north along the traditional roads of the Wasatch mountains that surround the Wasatch front.

Great, the visual images of the tour should be unrivaled anywhere on earth, but where is the Time Trial?  No race of truth, this year?  That is a curious omission, but the event is only six days long and it is primarily designed for climbers, not sprinters or time trialists.  Sprints and time trials are unlikely to make much of a difference in the general classification, so why bother with the logistical nightmares.

Gone too is Levi Leipheimer, a two time champion who was ensnared in the Lance Armstrong, U.S. Postal Service confession mania and banished into limbo forever?  Back for another round of contention is Francisco Mancebo Perez, Five Hour Energy, a former Tour of Utah champion who is always dangerous and should never be underestimated.  The best team?  Garmin Sharp should kill in the team ratings, studded with stars; Tom Danielson, Christian Vandevelde, David Zabriskie, and Thomas Dekker.  Well known names with international Pro Tour reputations.  Don't be surprised if Christian Vandevelde finishes numero uno in the general classification.

The team list has gone international and there is always a unknown factor that could upset the apple cart.  In cycling racing one crash can end your chances, and these long stage races have a tendency to generate accidents.

Stage 4 is a circuit through the streets of Salt Lake City Utah and with the exception of President's Circle is an exact duplicate of the 2011 course.  Up walls and down screaming descents, round and round, there are very few level spots on the course.  There will be attacks on this course and gaps, but a well prepared team should have very little effort managing the breakaways.  Don't expect anything decisive from this stage.

One comment on the media.  The Tour of Utah can provide a helicopter to provide visual effects, but even though the Miller family now owns a radio station it seems incapable of providing competent race radio.  I am tired of tuning into the official radio station only to hear endless discussions of sports that have no interest for me.  [Hint: The Utah Jazz.]  But after complaining for years and seeing no improvement, I am not going to feign interest.  Bother the local yokels who don't care about a bunch of buffoons dressed up like clowns who are insane enough to race up mountains on bicycles!  Give me another Utah Jazz update instead!  The Utah Jazz are very unlikely to make the playoffs this year, and with the Miami Heat, basketball is boring.  But so what.  It's not like there are not thousands of rabid cycling fans lining the streets of Salt Lake City cheering on their heroes, right?

Come on out and prove the yokels wrong.  There is nothing better in the world than a good bicycle race.