Local Rider Sprints Forward
After riding in several international tours and winning this year’s U23 National Championships, hometown cyclist Tanner Putt on Wednesday moved into the second stage of the Tour of Utah, a six-stage race that culminates on Main Street. Putt wears the stars and stripes jersey, a symbol of his Nationals victory, as he returns to familiar roads, this time accompanied by the professional cycling world.
"This is one of the top races of the year," Putt told The Park Record last week. "I’m feeling really motivated."
Putt joins seven pro riders on Bontrager team, directed by Axel Mercx. In the first few stages, Putt, a natural sprinter, plans to attack the sprint segments, dashes to designated lines that award points to individual riders.
The stages from Tuesday and Wednesday each included two one to two-mile sprints. The rider who accumulates the most sprint points by the end of the tour claims the purple jersey.
"I’m not much a climber," Putt said. "It’s a really hard tour this year. It’s really long and really hilly."
Mountain peaks guard later routes through Guardsman’s and Empire Passes, including one climb categorized as HC (beyond category)—cycling jargon for off the charts. By the tour’s end, riders will have burned through 43,621 vertical feet.
"I’ll just have to try and help out my teammates," Putt said.
Lawson Craddock, Nate Wilson, Gavin Mannion and Nathan Brown, the runner-up behind Putt at U23 Nationals, will pursue the overall title for team Bontrager. The U23 development squad also includes Connor O’Leary, another young rider from Salt Lake City. O’Leary finished sixth at Nationals.
Putt and O’Leary round out a strong crew from the home state, including Jamey Driscoll of Park City and former Salt Lake City resident Tyler Wren. The young riders face a field strewn with 16 Olympians. Athletes from 32 countries make up the 16 teams that have converged on the red rock and mountain roads Putt has been riding since his teenage years.
Throughout the tour Putt’s mind will fixate on the final stage, a circuit around the Jordanelle Reservoir that starts and finishes on Sunday in his hometown. Putt said the grueling climbs, building to the HC through Empire Pass, wouldn’t deter him from putting distance on the peloton.
"It’s going to be a really tough stage," he said, "but I’ve had a lot of support from everybody. I’m definitely going to try to be in the breakaway."
Putt raced the Cascade Classic two weeks ago in Oregon. After that, Bontrager blew through a block of longer, lower-intensity rides before tapering for the tour.
"It was good to get my racing legs back," Putt said, reflecting on Cascade. "Right now it’s all rest, a little bit shorter days. I’m feeling pretty fresh."
The tour spans the length of Utah, from Brian Head to Park City, and boasts seven teams that competed in the Tour de France, making the event one of Putt’s top races.
"I’ve been looking forward to this race all year," he said. "There’s not too much pressure. I’m just feeling good."
Stage Six: Park City
"I’ve had a lot of support from everybody. I’m definitely going to try to be in the breakaway." — Tanner Putt
Source: Tour of Utah Tour Tracker
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