HUNTSVILLE, Utah (VN) – BMC’s Brent Bookwalter sprinted past James Piccoli and held off Sepp Kuss in the final meters of the Tour of Utah’s stage 2 mountaintop finish. With his hands raised in the air, Bookwalter thought he’d claimed the race’s yellow leader’s jersey. Even race commentators believed Bookwalter would wear yellow during stage 3’s time trial.
Confusion set in, however, during the awards ceremony following the finish. Bookwalter celebrated his win and donned the yellow jersey. Meanwhile, UCI officials scrambled to recalculate rider times and points to determine the overall leader. Next, they announced that Bookwalter was not the new GC leader. Instead, Rally Cycling’s Kuss would wear yellow for the Wednesday time trial.
“This is not a normal issue in most cases and most races,” said a race official after the announcement. “But it does happen when the races are this close.” The issue in Utah arose because of the close finishes on stages 1 and 2. Bookwalter and Kuss both finished in the lead group on Monday’s sprint finish. Plus, they received the same time for Tuesday’s mountaintop finish.
While time bonuses were awarded for the top three during Monday’s sprint stage, Bookwalter and Kuss were well behind the winner. No time bonuses were awarded for the finish atop Snowbasin ski resort. Perhaps that is something race organizers and officials may now regret.
Since both riders have the same overall time after two stages at 8:35:01, the leader is determined (in accordance with article 2.6.015 of the UCI regulations) by the sum of each rider’s placing throughout the race. Kuss finished 21nd and second in stage 1 and 2, respectively. Bookwalter placed 29th and first in the stages so far. This means Kuss out-placed Bookwalter and earned the yellow leader’s jersey by seven points.
This isn’t Bookwalter’s first go-round with a leader’s jersey confusion. Earlier this season at the Volta a Catalunya, Bookwalter should have been awarded the lead after stage 2, instead of his teammate Ben Hermans. “I was supposed to have the leader’s jersey,” Bookwalter said, laughing off Utah’s confusion. “I was sitting on the bus trying to figure out the points.”
After recalculating the results and realizing the GC issue, officials transferred the lead to Kuss. They hosted a second podium presentation, this time with Kuss donning the yellow jersey.