PROVO, Utah (VN) — It was supposed to be a fairly uneventful day designed to throw a bone at the sprinters during the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.
Instead, there was more than enough drama to put a serious scare into the GC as a pair of crashes inside 10 kilometers to the finish created ample storylines.
Jack Bauer, racing at altitude for the first time all season with his Endura Racing team out of Great Britain, deftly maneuvered around the chaos of the final few miles and outkicked a hard-charging field to pick up a huge victory for the small team.
“It wasn’t really a sprint finish,” Bauer said. “We tried to set (the team sprinter) up, but going into the final corner we had a bit of a gap. I looked around and no one was on my wheel so I decided to go.”
Bauer had a solid two bike lengths advantage over Liquigas’ Elia Viviani and UnitedHealthcare’s Jake Keough.
There was, as expected, no significant movement in the general classification. But that could have easily changed after the crashes.
Race leader Sergio Henao of the Colombian Gobernacion de Antioquia team went down with a bunch of riders with about 7k to go when there was confusion about a turn. Somebody turned left when the course went straight and Henao, hit the asphalt for a moment. About the same time, Levi Leipheimer had a flat.
They were all able to quickly get back in with the group but might have been in serious trouble had one or two of the other group of five riders still in GC contention been separated from the others. Because the crash and Leipheimer’s flat happened outside the final 3k, anyone involved in the crash wouldn’t have received the same time as other finishers.
As it was, Leipheimer righted himself and zipped through the field to finish safely inside the pack at 13th. Brajkovic finished with the same time as Bauer while the Gobernacion teammates Henao and Oscar Seville (second in the GC) also finished in the main pack.
One rider who wasn’t so lucky coming out of the crash zone was Jamis-Sutter Home’s Tyler Wren. The Salt Lake City resident had some wheel damage that slowed him significantly and he crossed the line 30 seconds back and lost the Best Utah Rider jersey to BMC’s Jeff Louder, who had a strong kick to finish sixth on the day.
“He lost some time due to bad luck,” Louder said of his frequent training partner, Wren. “So it’s a little bittersweet.”
HTC-Highroad’s Tejay Van Garderen, disappointed after missing an opportunity to get into the race-changing break during Stage 1, set the stage for the finishing highlights when, with about 4k to go, he launched a solo attack and tried to time trial his way to a victory.
“When I went, it was on a bit of a rise and people were going backwards. It looked like people were getting tired,” Van Garderen said.
He opened up a gap while teams struggled to figure out who was still in the pack after the crashes. Once those teams got themselves sorted out, though, the chase began.
“The sprinters’ teams got organized and poured it on,” Van Garderen said. “When it’s one guy against nine it’s hard to succeed.”
He nearly got it done, though, only to be caught by the Endura train that was fortunate enough to find itself out front on a somewhat tricky approach to the finish.
Being out front for the final turns allowed Bauer and Endura to stay in the lead and pick up the win.
“My form is just coming on,” Bauer said. “So to go away from here with a win for our team is just awesome.”
The race, despite the gut-busting queen stage up Little Cottonwood Canyon to the Snowbird Resort on Sunday, may be determined Friday evening at Miller Motorsports Park during a 9-mile individual time trial that may not change who is in the top five, but will certainly juggle their order and possibly put the yellow jersey back on the shoulders of Leipheimer.
- 1. Jack Bauer. (NZL) Endura Racin. in 3:33:43
- 2. Elia Vivian. (ITA) Liquigas-Cannondal. at s.t.
- 3. Jacob Keough. (USA) Unitedhealthcar. at s.t.
- 4. Robert Forste. (GER) Unitedhealthcar. at s.t.
- 5. Danny Summerhil. (USA) Garmin-Cervel. at s.t.
- 1. Sergio Luis Henao Montoya, (COL) Gobernacion De Antioquia – Indeportes Antiquia, in 8:17:11
- 2. Oscar Sevilla Ribera, (ESP) Gobernacion De Antioquia – Indeportes Antiquia, at 00:00:07
- 3. Levi Leipheimer, (USA) Team RadioShack, at 00:00:13
- 4. Jesse Anthony, (USA) Kelly Benefit Strategies-Optumhealth, at 00:00:18
- 5. Janez Brajkovic, (SLO) Team RadioShack, at 00:00:21