Joe Dombrowski wraps up the Tour of Utah title as Lachlan Norris wins the final stage in a two-up sprint with Brent Bookwalter

Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin) won the Tour of Utah on Sunday as Lachlan Norris (Drapac Professional Cycling) took the final stage, a 125.5km leg starting and ending on Main Street in Park City.

Norris and Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team) came to the line together after the fast descent off the beyond-category Empire Pass, and while Bookwalter was first to jump, it was Norris who was first to finish. Natnael Berhane (MTN-Qhubeka) rounded out the podium in third.

Behind, race leader Dombrowski confirmed his overall title with a ninth-place finish as his main rival for the yellow jersey, Michael Woods (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies), slid out in the final left-hand corner.

Despite his mishap, Woods held onto second overall at 50 seconds, while Bookwalter consoled himself for missing the stage win by moving into third overall at 1:05.

“I’ll definitely remember yesterday’s stage, winning the stage and taking yellow,” Dombrowski said. “It was really a great team effort today. They did a super job controlling the race going into the final climb, and then put me in the right spot, and from there, it was just follow everybody.”

 

Top 10, Stage 7

 

Top 10, GC

 
The seventh stage served up a short, steep climb to the first KOM, a category-2 climb at Wolf Creek Ranch, before taking riders to the second — Empire Pass, a 10km, beyond-category ascent with an average grade of 10 percent and stretches that exceeded twice that.

A fast 8.5km downhill to the finish followed.

Dombrowski began the day in the yellow jersey after winning Saturday’s queen stage to the Snowbird ski resort. The man he deprived of the garment, Woods, was 50 seconds down in second, with Fränk Schleck (Trek Factory Racing) third at 1:07.

With 72km to race a 12-man break had more than three minutes over the peloton, led by Optum. Rob Britton (SmartStop) was best placed overall at 9:26; with him up the road were Luca Chirico (Bardiani CSF); Carson Miller (Jamis-Hagens Berman); Angus Morton (Jelly Belly-Maxxis); Jack Bobridge (Team Budget Forklifts); Taylor Phinney (BMC); Edwin Avila (Colombia); Griffin Easter (Airgas-Safeway); Songezo Jim (MTN-Qhubeka); Tanner Putt (UnitedHealthcare); Tyler Magner (Hincapie Racing Team); and Sam Spokes (Drapac Professional Cycling).

Spokes took top honors on the Wolf Creek Ranch KOM, followed by Putt and Miller. Behind, Janez Brajkovic (UnitedHealthcare) attacked out of the bunch and Camilo Castiblanco (Colombia) followed. With Brajkovic sitting 14th overall at 3:05, the move didn’t stick, though, not once Cannondale stepped up.

On the descent local favorite Putt had a go out of the break, pursued by Phinney, who in turn was being chased (and eventually caught) by the rest of the break. Cannondale and Optum were in chase of the peloton at 2:45.

Putt, the under-23 road champion in 2013-14, quickly took a minute’s advantage over his previous companions, riding alone through the final sprint point and heading for Empire Pass.

The peloton began reabsorbing the remnants of the break, and with 19km to race Woods gave it some stick. Dombrowski followed, and the peloton began coming apart on the climb.

Ahead, a resurgent Britton caught and dropped a fading Putt as the dwindling GC group continued working its way through the former front-runners. That group included Dombrowski, Woods, Norris, Bookwalter, Berhane, Fränk Schleck (Trek Factory Racing); Daniel Martinez (Colombia); and Robbie Squire (Hincapie Racing Team).

With 15km to go Woods was making the pace in the GC group and getting no help with Britton some 20 seconds up the road. Bookwalter was yo-yoing on and off the group.

Berhane came to the front on the final steeps and cranked up the pace. Then Woods moved up again with 5km to the KOM. Between them they cut Britton’s advantage to 10 seconds as Dombrowski followed the wheels.

As the chase closed on Britton, Chris Horner (Airgas-Safeway) — fourth overall at 1:09 — bridged to the lead group.

Squire had a dig at 1km from the KOM. Norris countered. But the GC group remained intact going over the top and onto the fast, technical descent to Park City.

Bookwalter led Norris down the twisting early sections of the descent. Behind, Woods was on the front of the reduced GC group.

The BMC man had a gap, but Norris caught him, and then shot around in the final meters to take the stage win with Berhane third.

“I was pretty excited. It’s a big win for me and huge for the team as well,” Norris said. “I knew the descent pretty well. I actually said to the mechanic this morning to let 10 psi out and I’ll give it a red-hot crack on the descent, so I had that as a plan.”

Dombrowski finished ninth on the day, but clinched the overall title ahead of Woods and Bookwalter.

Schleck slid to fourth at 1:07, while Horner dropped to fifth at 1:09.

Bookwalter collected the sprint title, while Greg Daniel (Axeon Cycling Team) won the mountains competition. Best young rider went to Martinez.

“Going into today, my dream scenario that I was envisioning was winning the stage, getting onto the podium and getting the points jersey. That was the ideal outcome,” said Bookwalter. “I did two out of three. I came up a couple hundred (yards) short on the third of three. I’m proud of my ride and I am really proud of my boys here this week.”