It's early August and that means it's time for the Tour of Utah! The event organizers got smart this year and took the ToU down to gorgeous southern Utah for a couple of stages which had never been done before; that meant we didn't get to see as many stages but it spotlighted some pretty spectacular scenery and gave the cyclists some good roads to ride. There were not quite as many superstars in attendance this year, mostly from aging out and retiring like George Hincapie and Levi Leipheimer, but there were some - Chris Horner, Tommy Danielson, Jens Voigt, Paco Mancebo, Dave Zabriskie - as well as lots of riders on the rise.
Stage 1 (8/6/13), Brian Head-Cedar City, 112 miles, 5,748 foot elevation gain. This stage originated at Brian Head, rode through the Cedar Breaks National Monument, Cedar Canyon and parts of the Dixie National Forest, ending up with a couple of laps around Cedar City. The podium finishers were all very young: Greg Van Avermaet (Team: BMC/Nationality: Belgium), Michael Matthews (Orica-GreenEdge/Australia) and Tyler Magner (Hincapie Sportswear/US).
Stage 2 (8/7/13), Panguitch-Torrey, 131 miles, 9,877 foot elevation gain. This stage was just stunning, running from Bryce Canyon National Park to Capitol Reef National Park. It followed Rte. 12, the "Journey Through Time" scenic byway (which H and I have yet to do), through the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, then up and over Boulder Mountain, passing right by our Singletree campground on the descent into tiny Torrey. Stage podium: Michael Matthews, Greg Van Avermaet, Jasper Stuyven (Bontrager/Belgium). General classification: Michael Matthews, Greg Van Avermaet, Christopher Jones (UnitedHealthcare/US).
Stage 3 (8/8/13), Richfield to Payson, 119 miles, 6,202 foot elevation gain. Coming northward, stage 3 was up and over Mt. Nebo, topping out at 9,300 feet at the summer. One of the announcers rode the stage in the morning before the racers were let loose; his comment was "There are cows in the road!" There are always cows in the road on Mt. Nebo since the area is open range. Sometimes there are so many cows in the road that you have to stop and wait for them to move along. Luckily there were no cattle-related crashes for the riders on their speedy descent. Stage podium: Lachlan Morton (Garmin-Sharp/Australia), Greg Van Avermaet, Lucas Euser (UnitedHealthcare/US). General classification: Lachlan Morton, Greg Van Avermaet, Lucas Euser.