Monday, August 11, 2014

2014 Tour of Utah: Stage 6 Depart

Well it was a boisterous atmosphere at the Tour of Utah Stage Six Depart at Rice Eccles Stadium, there were cycling starved fanatics of all stripes, including families with children. I arrived late, planning to ride up to Big Mountain, but when I checked my bike the front wheel had an overnight flat, Murphy's law! But I didn't really miss anything, most of the riders were sequestered in their team buses; and the depart was thirty minutes late. I did wander over to the BMC team bus and saw Cadel Evans. Cadel Evans is the most gracious man I have ever seen. He immediately walked over to the youngest fan in the crowd and signed an autograph; the young man was smiling in genuine happiness; then he posed for photographs holding some of the fanatics young children. I tried to get a photograph, but my camera batteries failed at the most inopportune moment, so nothing exists in long term memory except thoughts of a very charismatic man who is also an outstanding ambassador of our sport. Of course, I did take some photographs, but alas, most were so horrible that it would be pointless to print them.

Tour of Utah Tenth Year Edition.

Photos from top:
Enrique, a chess pal.
Two DRAPAC Professional Cycling Team (Australia) riders.  Adam Phelan (75) and team leader Jai Crawford (71) who were gracious enough to allow me to photograph them.  Thanks guys!! 
Rob Britton (Team Smartstop)
Chris Horner
A BMC rider
Cadel Evans
The National Anthem.

Stage 6 Winner: Cadel Evans 4:34:31 Tour of Utah Winner: Tom Danielson

Saturday, August 2, 2014

2014 Tour of Utah: Preview

The 2014 Tour of Utah will be a scenic spectacle; it is impossible to describe the breathtaking beauty of Utah's southern climes; you have to see it for yourself or see photographs; descriptions are inadequate and meaningless.  Nevertheless: the climbs this year far exceed anything in the past; the race reminds me of six days of racing in the Alps or Pyrenees during the Tour de France!  Tough hard hors categorie climbs; long difficult climbs, and dizzying descents.  Stage 6 of the Tour of Utah features a leg breaking climb over Guardsman Pass, followed by a 14 mile descent down Big Cottonwood Canyon then a six mile climb up Little Cottonwood Canyon.  Oh!  A friend of mine and me rode up Big Cottonwood Canyon to Guardsman Pass one fine day; but we were turned back at the gate; the road was closed buried by four feet of snow!  In May!  Whew!  We were forced to turn around and descend the fourteen miles; quickly you run out of pedals; you could spin at full speed frictionless and never gain an ounce of speed.  Damn!  The peloton screaming down that pass, especially near the base of the hill where some nasty hairpin turns are located fills me with dread and expectation.  Of course, there is a short interval before you enter Little Cottonwood Canyon, a little flat section, to get you warmed up a bit, before the torture starts again.  Little Cottonwood Canyon is about the same length as L'AlpeD'Huez, about seven point five percent grade, no joke, even for the professional riders.

There is no circuit stage in Salt Lake this year.  There is a feminine addition this year. the women will field 12 teams, the women will ride a 2.2 mile circuit at Miller Motorsports Park on Wednesday, August 6, 2014, in Tooele, Utah.  Admission is free to the public.  I love the fact that the women will be included this year.  A circuit race is a start, but I hope that the girls will have a chance to compete on the road in the future; let's see how well the ladies climb!

The men.  Who are the favorites?

Cadel Evans
Brent Bookwalter

Cadel Evans won the Tour de France!  Brent Bookwalter has competed in several Tour of Utah races and will prove a dangerous lieutenant.

Ivan Basso

Ivan Basso is a world class climber and a tough competitor.  Good enough to be in the top ten in the general classification, if not win the entire race outright. 

Garmin Sharp

Thomas Danielson

Defending champion.  I am sure Mr. Danielson is a champion motivated to repeat his 2013 feat.  And let's face it, Garmin Sharp looks to have the best team.

Christopher Horner

Tough journeyman pro-tour rider.  Christopher Horner has been known in the past to breakaway from the peloton, and succeed in not being reeled in by the peloton.  Christopher Horner could provide a unpredictability factor and shake things up.

Trek Factory Racing

Jens Voight.

Another old time journeyman pro-tour rider.  Tough as nails and ready to win.

Jelly Belly

Freddy Rodriquez

"Fast" Freddy Rodriquez, more of a sprinter than a climber.  Everybody loves "Fast" Freddy, including me.  But he does seem a little out of place in this race.

Then there are the unpredictable.  Some of these team rosters show an amazingly large number of Colombian riders, and Colombian riders can climb like "angels of the mountains."  I imagine that some of these Colombian riders will take stage wins, and don't be surprised if they finish high in the general classification.

Past Winners Missing in Action

Levi Leipheimer
Francisco Mancebo Perez
Jeff Louder (who by the way was introduced to the crowd at the stage 6 depart.  I did not see his name on the rider list, however.  Sorry about that.)

Anyway, come on out, you can see great scenery and great racing all at the same time!