Yellow jersey up for grabs at Tour of Utah
Through five stages of the 2016 Tour of Utah, chaos has ensued.
Five different riders — Kristofer Dahl, Robin Carpenter, Lachlan Morton, Travis McCabe and Kiel Reijnen — have won stages this year, leading to a jumble atop the general classification standings.
As of Friday, Morton led by only seven seconds over second-place rider Adrien Costa.
Local rider Tanner Putt, a member of the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team, was in 87th place through Thursday after riding to a top-10 finish in Monday’s Stage 1.
Putt’s brother, Chris, is a member of the Jelly Belly presented by Maxxis squad along with race-leader Morton. Though Chris isn’t competing at this year’s Tour of Utah, he said he’s enjoyed watching his brother and his teammates ride this week.
“To race with someone like [Morton] has been a cool experience,” the younger Putt, 22, said. “He’s been to the top level and knows what it takes.”
Putt raced with his brother Tanner on the same team in 2014 and with different squads in 2015. He said he and Tanner have a lot of great memories riding in their home-state race. When Stage 7, which starts and ends on Park City’s Main Street, takes place on Sunday, Putt said he’ll remember the times he and Tanner were able to ride that stage together.
“One of the coolest days I’ve had in bike racing was in 2014 when we finished together in Park City in front of everybody,” he said. “It’s just always a really big day for him and me to finish in Park City.”
Tanner has given his hometown fans exciting moments in recent years. Chris noted that his brother has been among the leaders at various points of the stage since 2013.
“The last three years, he’s always gotten in the breakaway on the final day,” Chris said. “If he could get in that for the fourth year in a row, I think he’d be pretty excited.”
But, Chris added, Tanner isn’t out to try to win stages at this point. As a member of the UnitedHealthcare squad, Tanner’s job is to help his team’s top riders make their way up the general classification standings.
“Saturday and Sunday are big days — lots of climbing and really big climbs,” Chris said. “[UnitedHealthcare] has a couple guys sitting near the top-10 overall. Starting [Friday], [Tanner’s] focus is going to have to shift to keeping the climbing guys on the team safe and keeping them clean.”
Janez Brajkovic, in 11th place through Thursday, is UnitedHealthcare’s top rider in the GC. Sitting in 14th place is Jonathan Clarke. Tanner’s job, Chris said, is to support those riders any way he can through the final weekend of racing.
However, Chris continued, if things go awry, like they did in Stage 1, Putt could challenge for a top spot in one of the final stages.
“I know he was working for another teammate [on Monday] and it got chaotic in the last few kilometers,” Chris said. “The other guy lost contact with him and [Tanner] kind of just made the last-minute decision to sprint for himself.”
In 2017, Chris said he hopes he and Tanner are able to compete alongside one another again — even if they’re on different teams.
“I was definitely disappointed to miss [this year’s race],” he said. “But having to sit back and watch it has motivated me to do what I can to get back next year.”
As he continues to work with the Jelly Belly team, Chris said he hopes to become an even stronger rider when the 2017 Tour of Utah comes around.
“There’s a lot that goes into it,” he said. “It’s being more comfortable racing and being more confident. That’s been the biggest thing for me.”
Sunday’s Stage 7 is scheduled to start at 12:15 p.m. on Park City’s Main Street. The anticipated finishing time is 3:30 p.m. Riders will cover 78 miles, with 7,883 feet of elevation gain. For more information on the Tour of Utah, including updated general classification standings, visit http://www.tourofutah.com or download the Tour Tracker app.
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