Duggan expects ‘pretty aggressive’ closing weekend in Utah

After finding himself in a longshot breakaway, U.S. champ says he has to take whatever opportunity presents itself to get over on Garmin

SALT LAKE CITY (VN) — Timmy Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale) says there’s only one way to knock the Garmin-Sharp crew off the top of the general classification here in Utah, and that’s to sell out attacking in the mountains over the weekend.

The U.S. road champion sits 1:31 back of Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp), whose teammate Tom Danielson is in second at the same time as Vande Velde thanks to a dominant performance in the team time trial.

“I hope that some GC riders on other teams are going to have the same plans as myself and be aggressive, because the rest of us who aren’t on Garmin don’t have a choice — we have to go on the attack,” Duggan said. “I think there’s enough teams who are in the same boat. It’s going to be a pretty aggressive final two days of racing.”

The final weekend of racing features one day that includes 10,000 feet of climbing to Snowbird and the race’s final stage on Sunday touts a new climb that ascends 6,000 feet in just three miles. That climb — Empire Pass — has multiple sections at 20-percent gradient.

Somewhat surprisingly, Duggan leapt into the breakaway on Thursday — a day it was very likely the bunch would catch the break, which it did. But Duggan liked the tactic regardless.

“We only have six riders,” he said of his Liquigas team. “If you’re in position, you have to go for it. The chance might not come again later… It worked out. I’m still in contention for the GC, and I have the KOM jersey. And I didn’t have to deal with the peloton all day, so that was pretty nice.”

If Duggan, or Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan) or others are to challenge the Garmin riders, they may be able to take heart in the fact that the team must still control the race in the Utah desert heat today, perhaps reducing its reserves for the second half of Saturday’s three-climb affair to the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon.

“Two hundred and fifteen kilometers in the heat, riding the front [Friday]. That’s not going to be an easy day for them,” Duggan said. “The last two days… It’s going to be hard.”