Britton defends lead to win Tour of Utah
Next year’s race will take place on Aug. 6-12
Canadian Rob Britton of Rally Cycling successfully fended off all challengers to earn the top prize at the 2017 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah on Sunday. In his third Tour of Utah appearance, Britton claimed the biggest victory of his career, taking the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall Leader title. The weeklong UCI stage race, which began July 31 in Logan, concluded with Stage 7 presented by Utah Sports Commission in downtown Salt Lake City.
“This year has been phenomenal. I think we’ve had success at just about every race we’ve gone to. Personally, I’ve knocked on the door for a long, long time and passed over for a few things, so this is pretty sweet,” said Britton, who placed fifth overall at the 2016 Tour of Utah. “It means a lot to me [to win the overall]. I was really grateful to have such a fantastic team around me, because without them I wouldn’t be where I am.”
A fast and furious circuit race beside the Utah State Capitol saw Nippo-Vini Fantini’s Marco Canola (ITA) power away to a convincing win on Stage 7 presented by Utah Sports Commission. Canola flew up the final climb on State Street to cross the line in a time of 2 hours and 40 minutes. Americans Brent Bookwalter of BMC Racing and Gavin Mannion of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team lead the field across the line two seconds later, taking second and third respectively on the stage. Britton finished sixth on the stage.
Aggressive racing was at the forefront on the 73-mile stage which saw numerous teams and riders attack in a last gasp for glory. Breakaways formed and re-formed at the front while the Rally Cycling team remained in complete control of the peloton. A flurry of attacks marked the last of the 11 laps but the decimated field was back together in the final kilometer to battle for the top step of the podium.
“I could see day after day that my condition was better, so today we tried with all our strength and power to take the win. I have to say thanks to all my teammates because they did a really good job. We followed every attack today, and also they were chasing at the end to arrive all together at the last corner. In the end, the last kilometer was uphill, so it was up to the legs to see who was the winner. I am really, really happy to arrive in Salt Lake City and it was one of my favorite stages at Tour of Utah,” said Canola, who finished second in a sprint finish on Stage 5 in Bountiful.
The 13th edition of the Tour of Utah, known as “America’s Toughest Stage Race,” included 605 miles of racing and 36,525 feet of elevation gain for the men’s professional stage race. Over the course of seven days of hard racing, three different riders wore the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall Leader jersey, until Britton blazed into the lead on the individual time trial Wednesday and gained a firm grasp on the prize. Of the 126 professional cyclists that began the week in Logan, 100 completed the stage race in Salt Lake City.
UHC’s Mannion finished second in the G.C., 22 seconds behind the overall leader. Serghei Tvetcov (ROM) of Jelly Belly Cycling presented by Maxxis was third, 32 seconds down. Placing fourth overall was Under-23 U.S. Road Race national champion Neilson Powless of Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team.
“This race was definitely a race won with strong legs because the climbs are long and tough. A bit stronger is a way to win the race. I think the strongest guy here won,” said Powless, who took over the WCF Insurance Best Young Rider jersey on Stage 2 and never let go.
Pre-race favorite Bookwalter, winner of Stage 2 with the mountaintop finish at Snowbasin Resort, remained in fifth place on G.C. Utahn Taylor “T.J.” Eisenhart of Holowesko-Citadel Racing Team presented by Hincapie Sportswear finished 11th overall.
Finishing seventh on the stage, Travis McCabe (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team successfully defended the Utah Sports Commission Sprint jersey. “Once I was in the break, I went for the sprint points and I still tried to go for it in the sprint, but it was pretty evident that I spent too much energy up there (in the break). I lost Marco’s (Canola) wheel in the last 500 meters, and I couldn’t do much after that. I’m just happy that I was able to hold on to the Sprint Jersey.”
Jacob Rathe (USA) of Jelly Belly Cycling presented by Maxxis defended the Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain Leader jersey over the full seven days of racing. “It was a goal of the team, and personally I knew that I could get it for a day or two. We saw that there were two climb-heavy stages to start the race. I got in the break and the climbs suited me. I kept expecting to come across the line and have it gone, but twice I held on to it by one point.”
Active in the break and attacking non-stop in the final laps, Manuel Senni (ITA) of BMC Racing Team was awarded the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider jersey. His BMC Racing Team won the best overall team classification. Fans selected Pier-André Côté (CAN) of Silber Pro Cycling as the America First Credit Union Fan Favorite, in the Best Overall category.
“Congratulations to all the riders in America’s Toughest Stage Race and our worthy champion,” said Tour of Utah Executive Director Jenn Andrs. “Whether you were following the race on television or cheering at the finish line, we hope everyone enjoyed this showcase of the state of Utah and the sport of cycling. Pending final UCI approval, the tentative race dates for the 2018 Tour of Utah will be pushed back a week to August 6-12. We look forward to our 14th year of racing in 2018.”
Park City Mountain Resort is scheduled to start limited summer operations on Saturday, including the operation of PayDay lift for hikers and bikers.