Monday, August 13, 2012

2012 tour of utah - stage 6

The last stage of the Tour of Utah was short (76.7 miles) but brutal (6,844 feet of climbing): starting and finishing in Park City, it wound through Heber and Midway, up the backside of the mountain to Empire Pass and then descending through Deer Valley to the finish line on Main Street.  What's so brutal about that?  Well, the maximum grade on the climb to Empire Pass is 22%.  That's some wicked steep.

Looking up Main Street to the finish

Levi Leipheimer actually suggested this route to the Tour organizers after he did it on a training ride last year; I'm pretty sure there were riders cursing his name as they struggled up the hill, and a number of them didn't even bother to finish the climb, Dave Zabriskie and Tyler Farrar among them..  It was a good ride for Levi though as he made a heroic move about halfway up the climb, pulling away from the pack with a gap at one time of over 1:30.  He descended like a champ, speeds topping out around 60 m.p.h. - in comparison, when we drive our car down that descent through Deer Valley, we don't like to go faster than 30 m.p.h. because it's scary - and won the stage.  His lead over the yellow jersey (38 seconds) wasn't enough to win him the Tour, but I'm so glad he got the stage win.

Killing time, waiting for the riders to come in

We got to Park City on the early side so we could do a MTB ride first (more on that later).  We had parked at the high school, so when we'd cleaned up after the ride, we caught one of the free shuttles into town.  The Park Silly Sunday market had been pushed up to the top of Main Street so that the bike race could finish on the lower part of the street.  The place was swarming with people - Park City is a great place to finish the Tour because there's plenty for people to do, eat and drink while waiting for the riders to come in.  We bought a couple of sandwiches at a deli, then grabbed spots at the fence just above the finish line where we'd have a clear view of the cyclists charging up the hill.  Soon enough Main Street was lined with spectators and the roar of the crowd was awesome when Levi came across the finish, pounding his chest.

Stage 6 winner: Levi Leipheimer

Johann Tschopp retained the yellow jersey to win his first stage race ever; Levi ended up sixth in the general classification and Chris Horner at seventh.  Tommy D. and Christian Vande Velde ended up eleventh and twelfth, respectively, and Jens Voigt came in 64th, having moved up well from his spot at 129 earlier in the week.  American Joe Dombrowski won the best young rider jersey and, since he finished fourth overall, is going to be one to watch.

Final podium butt shot

The only complaint we had about Stage 6 was that the final podium was located on a narrow street, with the front crowded with press, which didn't leave much room for spectators to see the awards.  We found a spot on the side of the stage: we couldn't see the podium from the front, but we were really close to the cyclists as they were milling about, waiting for the presentations.  It was another good tour and lots of fun to watch.  Congratulations to Johann Tschopp on his first stage race win; congratulations to Levi Leipheimer on his Stage 6 win; and welcome to Utah to the Jensie and Chris Horner - come back and see us again some time!

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