Real heroes of the Tour of Utah weren’t necessarily on bikes |

Real heroes of the Tour of Utah weren’t necessarily on bikes

The Park Record Editorial, Aug. 14-16, 2013

Think about it. Six days, 586 miles, 122 cyclists and more than 100 support vehicles. An unwieldy caravan traveling state highways and two-lane mountain passes teeming with regular summer traffic and lined with thousands of flag-waving, bell-ringing spectators. And all without a mishap.

Of course, our hats are off to the superb athletes whose skills and fearlessness surpassed our imagination. But we are also deeply indebted to the multiple agencies from the Utah Highway Patrol and state and local road crews to volunteer course marshals and medical personnel who ensured the cyclists’ and spectators’ safety.

This year’s Tour of Utah marked an important milestone. For the first time since the event began, stages were also held in southern Utah, showing off the stunning red rock vistas and National Park settings. The hope is that, just as the Tour de France has turned images of the French Alps and countryside into worldwide icons, the Tour of Utah will emblazon Utah’s scenery on television (and Internet) screens around the world.

But all of that depends on a well-run, catastrophe-free event. Otherwise, what is intended to be a showcase could turn into a prototype for bad publicity.

Thankfully, last week’s Tour of Utah was a model of precise planning. The proof was in the racers’ smiles as they crossed Sunday’s finish line on Park City’s Main Street, many looking as though they were ready to do it all again tomorrow.

Certainly there were some strained encounters along the roadblocks. But overall, Utah drivers were patient. Perhaps some even became new bike-racing fans. On the East Side of Summit County, where everyday cyclists sometimes feel less than welcome, the smaller towns enthusiastically waved the racers across the sprint lines and there were no reports of hostile outbursts.

The Tour of Utah has grown into a massive, complex event. That was evident to anyone who stood on the sidelines and observed the moving entourage of flashing lights, blaring loudspeakers, team vans, rolling medical support and the colorful knot of fast-moving riders. And thanks to the Tour of Utah’s commitment to presenting a top-notch event, the word "peloton" (as in "Did you see that peloton go through Kamas?") is now a cherished part of Utah’s vocabulary. As we hope it will be for years to come.

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