Former Vuelta a España champion Chris Horner will race the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, which runs August 3-9. Horner’s team, Airgas-Safeway, received one of the final three wildcard invitations to the race earlier this week.
Horner has finished runner-up to Tom Danielson (Cannondale-Garmin) at the Tour of Utah the last two years. Horner was initially expected to start the Vuelta a Colombia at the beginning of August, but due to Airgas-Safeway’s late entry into the Utah race, his plans have changed. “To earn an invitation to the Tour of Utah is a big deal, and we’re extremely honored to have the chance to compete,” team principal Chris Johnson said.
“Hearing that we were invited felt really good,” Horner said. “The team has been riding well all season, and it will be great to be back racing in Utah in August.”
In its fifth year as a UCI-ranked race, the Tour of Utah will cover 712 miles and over 51,000 feet of elevation gain over the seven days of racing. The race has moved up to the highest ranking below the WorldTour, UCI 2.HC, for the 2015 edition. The ranking jump has allowed the race to invite its most competitive field of teams to date. “Utah is a hard race,” Horner added, “Steep climbs, longer stages and obviously you have the altitude as well.”
Horner moved to the Airgas Continental squad after a long run in the WorldTour, which peaked with his victory in the Vuelta a España in 2013. Horner 43, is the elder statesman on the young Airgas-Safeway team, as some members of the team are more than 20 years his junior.
The race will unfold rather interestingly, as Airgas goes up against the much stronger and powerful squad of Team Cannondale-Garmin. Airgas is not shrinking away from the challenge, preparing diligently for Utah. “A lot of people might not realize what goes on behind the scenes; it is almost like we’re preparing ourselves for battle,” Johnson continued.
New this year, the Tour of Utah has included two days of women’s racing, dubbed the Criterium Classic. The omnium-style racing will be part of the National Criterium Calendar (NCC) sanctioned by USA Cycling. The races will be held August 3-4 in Logan and Ogden, Utah.
“We have so many great teams at this year’s Tour of Utah, and at the Criterium Classic,” executive director of the race, Jenn Andrs, said in a press release. “Spectators will be treated to compelling attacks and race action across Northern Utah at all seven stages.”
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