Early August means Tour of Utah! After cruising through southern Utah last year, this year's iteration is all northern Utah. SOMETHING ABOUT CYCLISTS. Like last year, we only attended stages 6 and 7 in person, but here's a summary of the midweek events.
Stage 1 (7/31/17) Logan, 132 miles and 6,550 feet of elevation gain. The longest stage of this year's Tour, Stage 1 starts and ends in Logan, with a tour through Cache Valley and Logan Canyon and around Bear Lake. Stage podium: Tyler Magner (Holowesko/Citadel/Hincapie); Christopher Lawless (Axeon); Travis McCabe (UnitedHealthcare).
Stage 2 (8/1/17) Brigham City to Snowbasin, 94 miles and 6,900 feet of elevation gain. This marks the first year the ToU goes to Snowbasin. After warming up around Brigham City and Sardine Canyon, the riders cross the North Ogden Divide (a 5 km climb averaging a 10% gradient), before going around Pineview Reservoir and then hitting the climb (6 mi., average 6% gradient) for a mountain top finish at the ski resort. Stage podium: Brent Bookwalter (BMC); Sepp Kuss (Rally Cycling); James Piccoli (Elevate-KHS).
Stage 3 (8/2/17) Big Cottonwood Canyon, 5 miles and 1,725 feet of elevation gain. In a bit of a departure, Stage 3 was a five mile time trial, but since it was from Donut Falls to Brighton - all uphill, with a 5.5% average gradient - it actually suited the climbers more than the time trial specialists. Brent Bookwalter, who had had such a good Stage 2 the day before, completely blew up on this one. Stage podium: Rob Britton (Rally Cycling); Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly): Gavin Mannion (UnitedHealthcare).
Stage 4 (8/3/17) South Jordan circuit, 123 miles with no noticeable elevation gain. When I watch multi-stage bike races, I much prefer the ones where there's climbing. This Stage 4, out on the west side of the Salt Lake Valley, really had none of that. The sun and wind were a factor, as well as the wildfire smoke blowing in from Nevada. It was a pretty exciting sprint finish, however, with the stage winner passing five riders at the last minute. Stage podium: John Murphy (Holowesko/Citadel); Jose Alfredo Rodriguez Victoria (Elevate-KHS): Mihkel Raim (Israel Cycling Academy).
Stage 5 (8/4/17) Layton to Bountiful, 115 miles with 4,200 feet of elevation gain. Stage 5 is a sneaky stage. The first half consists of rolling hills and then the back end has a series of brutal climbs, including two trips up and down the Bountiful bench which, if you look at them on the course profile, seem to be nearly straight up and down. Stage podium: Travis McCabe (UnitedHealthcare); Marco Canola (Nippo Vini Fantini); Logan Owen (Axeon).
Rally is holding pretty tightly to the yellow jersey but it's been fun to see all these different teams - including an Israeli one and an Italian one - on the stage podiums.