Cole Sport sets lineup for Tour of Utah | ParkRecord.com

Cole Sport sets lineup for Tour of Utah

Matthew Piper, OF THE RECORD STAFF

Viewers on Main Street will once again have a home team to pull for when the Tour of Utah’s criterium and final stage start come pouring through in August.

Cole Sport Racing is one of only 17 teams invited to this year’s race – billed as "America’s Toughest Stage Race." Only seven amateur teams will race the five grueling stages – two of which will start in downtown Park City.

The team’s 2010 lineup – an odd mixture of very young and very experienced cyclists – is replete with local stars, but team manager Todd Hageman is keeping expectations low for now.

"Our goals are pretty modest," Hageman said. "We’re shooting to be one of the top one or two amateur teams."

Heading the Cole Sport lineup both in terms of fame and 2009 Tour of Utah results is 2010 Olympic nordic combined gold medalist Billy Demong, who hails from Vermontville, N.Y., but lives in Glenwild.

"He’s just a naturally gifted athlete," Hageman said of his good friend. "It doesn’t take him much riding at all to be near the top."

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Earlier this month, Demong finished 37th of 160 elite racers at the prestigious Mt. Hood Cycling Classic in Oregon with "no practice," Hageman said. "Once the competition lines up and the start gun goes off, he just kind of goes into a different gear."

Joining Demong on Cole Sport will be young Parkite Tanner Putt, fresh off competing in Europe for the U.S. junior road cycling team. The teen phenom flatted out in last year’s Tour of Utah after a strong start, and Hageman believes he will again be the youngest elite cyclist to begin the race.

On the opposite end of the experience scale, Gardie Jackson is a multiple-time state time-trial champion and a leader on the squad.

"He’s just been around the scene for years," Hageman said. "He’s the ultimate team player."

Another well-travelled racer, Cole Sport’s Bryson Perry, has been one of the top racers in the state over the last year since taking last year off for a new baby. Also chipping in will be 23-year-old U.S. National Team mountain biker Mitchell Peterson, who will continue to dabble on the road scene after challenging some of the top road climbers at Mt. Hood.

Twenty-five-year-old Evan Hyde will compete as a guest rider for Cole Sport after racing professionally last year, and his bib number will be one to watch during the criterium.

The team’s strongest overall rider is most likely Sam Krieg, Hageman said. The owner of a bicycling equipment company, Kreig has been "dominant" on the local scene in Idaho and Utah this year.

For his part, the 39-year-old Hageman had his lymph nodes removed just three months ago after being diagnosed with thyroid cancer, and will compete in the Tour of Utah before undergoing radiation to prevent its return. He said he has felt the affects of recovery in recent races, but believes he has time to improve his physical state by the time of the Tour of Utah from Aug. 17 to Aug. 22.

Hageman said he primarily hopes that everybody on the Cole Sport team can finish the tour. Two Cole Sport members retired before finishing last year.

David Clinger, who raced with Cole Sport the last two seasons and was once one of the top professional American cyclists, will not race this year after testing positive for testosterone and receiving a two-year competitive ban.

"David will be missed," Hageman said. "He’s a great guy, and he’s getting himself back on track."

The team will also be without Zack Simons, who moved to California.

"Half of the team is new," Hageman said. "We’re definitely a stronger, more mature team. It sounds strange, but even our young guys are very mature."

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