This past week, Utah has been taken over by the 2014 Tour of Utah, now increased to seven stages and taking place throughout the state. Tommy Danielson returned to defend last year's title; 2013 Vuelta a Espana winner Chris Horner came back to try to take it away from him; and 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans decided to join the Utah party. Due to distance/work issues, we were only able to see stages 6 and 7 in person, but here's what happened in the first five:
Stage 1 (8/4/14) Cedar City to Cedar City, 113.5 miles, 8,873 foot elevation gain. This was a new course, cruising through the Red Hills of the Escalante Desert, through the Parowan Gap, up to Brian Head and Cedar Breaks, and then back to Cedar City for a couple of circuits before the finish. Stage podium: Moreno Hofland (Team: Belkin/Nationality: Holland); Jure Kocjan (SmartStop/Slovenia); Andrea Palini (Lampre/Italy).
Stage 2 (8/5/14) Panguitch to Torrey, 130.7 miles, 10,162 foot elevation gain. This stage was a repeat of last year, so here's a repeat of what I said last year: "This stage was just stunning, running from Bryce Canyon National Park to Capitol Reef National Park. It followed Route 12, the "Journal 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 the Singletree campground [that we stayed at in May 2013] on the descent into tiny Torrey." Stage podium: Michael Schar (BMC/Switzerland); Jure Kocjan; Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly Cycling/Romania).
Stage 3 (8/6/14) Lehi to Miller Motorsports Park, 118.3 miles, 3,953 foot elevation gain. After following the Utah Lake coastline for a while, the course turned westwards, hitting a summit in the ghost town of Eureka and following the old Pony Express route to finish at Miller Motorsports Park. Stage podium: Moreno Hoflin; Andrea Palini; Eric Young (Optum/USA).
Stage 4 (8/7/14) Ogden to Powder Mountain, 104.7 miles, 8,893 foot elevation gain. With a return to Ogden, this stage 4 is brand-new. From Ogden, up and over the North Ogden Divide, around Pineview Reservoir and back down through Ogden Canyon to do it again, then peeling off after the second time around Pineview and finishing with a brutal climb up to PowMow. Tommy D., the stage winner, said afterwards that the climb to Powder Mountain was the hardest he's ever done. Stage podium: Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp/USA); Ben Hermans (BMC/Germany); Chris Horner (Lampre/USA).
Stage 5 (8/8/14) Evanston (WY) to Kamas, 101.4 miles, 5,706 foot elevation gain. A relatively flat stage after the oh-so-tough stage 4, the riders started in Wyoming and rode to tiny Kamas, traversing the scenic Mirror Lake Highway, up and over Bald Mountain (topping out at 10,759 feet), then descending for two circuits through Kamas, including a two-mile dirt stretch in Peoa. Stage podium: Eric Young (Optum/USA); Jure Kocjan; Kiel Reijnan (UnitedHealthcare/USA).