Utah: Philipsen edges McCabe in stage 4 circuit race

Jasper Philipsen won a chaotic photo-finish sprint in downtown Salt Lake City to beat Travis McCabe in stage 4.

Jasper Philipsen (Hagens Berman Axeon) won a chaotic photo-finish sprint in downtown Salt Lake City to beat points leader Travis McCabe (UnitedHealthcare) in the stage 4 circuit race. Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo) grabbed third.

A reduced peloton caught the remnants of the day’s breakaway riders just before heading into the last right-hand corner to the uphill finish. Joey Rosskopf (BMC Racing), who had been in the break all day, hit out on his own one last time┬ábut it was not enough. Points leader McCabe launched into his sprint, and Kiel Reijnen went at the same time. Philipsen came from the left, squeezing past McCabe by the slimmest of margins to take the narrowest of wins.

In the overall battle, the top placings remained the same, with Sepp Kuss (LottoNL-Jumbo) still secure in the race’s leader’s jersey. His teammate, Neilson Powless, remains in second, 19 seconds back, with Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) in third.

How it unfolded

Nearly from the gun, T.J. Eisenhart (Holowesko Citadel) and Laurent Didier (Trek-Segafredo) launched an attack to separate themselves from the field. Eventually, a group of 15 would coalesce at the front of affairs. It included Eisenhart, Didier, Nigel Ellsay (Rally), Sam Bewley (Mitchelton-Scott), Joey Rosskopf (BMC Racing), Michel Ries (Trek-Segafredo), Sho Hatsuyama (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Ivan Santaromita (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Edward Anderson (Hagens Berman Axeon), Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly), Jonny Clarke (UnitedHealthcare), Taylor Shelden (Jelly Belly), Danick Vandale (Silber), Michael Hernandez (Aevolo), Lance Haidet (Aevolo), and Bernat Font Mas (303 Project).

Battling the heat, which soared to 95 degrees, the LottoNL-Jumbo team of overall leader Sepp Kuss didn’t allow the breakaway a large lead, which settled in at around one minute halfway through the race.

Just past the sprint line with three laps to go, Didier and Haidet fell off the back of the breakaway group. With 25 kilometers to go, the pair were reabsorbed by the peloton.

Meanwhile, Elevate-KHS, which did not have a rider in the break, came to the front of the main pack to pull hard. With two laps to go, the gap was 40 seconds. In the break, Bewley put in a dig through the finish line to try and drop some riders. Instead, he hurt himself, and drifted back. Santaromita was dropped from the group. Bewley regained contact. And it was 11.

As the riders entered City Creek Canyon, Clarke attacked, pushing a big gear up the undulating road. His lead extended to 15 seconds.

Eisenhart dropped back from the break and was reabsorbed.

The break began to fall apart as Shelden attacked, catching Clarke. Then Tvetcov went and Rosskopf followed. It was all back together. Then Hernandez had a dig. It was shut down immediately, before Clarke hinted at another attack.

Entering the finishing stretch with one lap to go, the EF Education First-Drapac team joined LottoNL at the front of the peloton, and dropped the break’s lead to 20 seconds.

Into the final 11.5 kilometer lap, Clarke cracked and was quickly reabsorbed. Rosskopf showed impatience and went to the front of the break to take charge. It proved too much for Shelden who tailed off. Font Mas had a dig but was quickly reeled in by Rosskopf. Then Tvetcov went, but didn’t get far. Non-stop aggression saw their lead grow to 15 seconds. Five riders remained in the front group: Rosskopf, Anderson, Tvetcov, Ries, and Ellsay.

Nicola Conci (Trek-Segafredo) and Sean Bennett (Hagens Berman Axeon) bridged from the peloton up to the front group. Rosskopf drove the pace, keeping the speeds consistent. At 4.5 km to go, the lead was 10 seconds.

Heading down the long, wide boulevard leading into the last right-hand corner, the riders looked around at each other while speeds stayed high. Rosskopf hit out on his own and Tvetcov pulled him back. With a mile to go, the peloton had the break in their sights. With 800 meters to go the catch was made.

Rosskopf gave a final dig. That’s when McCabe launched into his sprint. Philippsen came from the left, squeezing past McCabe to take victory at the line.