Leipheimer hopeful to headline new-look Tour of Utah

Organizers on Wednesday launched a new-look Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah for August 2011. The newly upgraded UCI 2.1-level stage race will feature six days of racing and include new routes for all but two stages.

2011 Tour of Utah stages
2011 Tour of Utah stages

Defending overall champion Levi Leipheimer said he hopes to be back for a title defense at the 2011 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah in August with the backing of a full RadioShack squad.

“It was a great week in Utah last year. The whole week was hard, a hard course every day. I really appreciate a race like the Tour of Utah, which keeps getting bigger and better,” said Leipheimer. “From all the volunteers in the local communities, to the sponsors, and to all the fans who come to each stage, I look forward to defending my title with Team RadioShack this year.”

Utah Cycling Partnership president Steve Miller led the announcement Wednesday afternoon at the Utah State Capitol.

“We appreciate all the support of the State of Utah, Salt Lake County, civic communities, corporations and the loyal fans who truly appreciate such a well-established and esteemed sporting event,” said Miller. “It really is more than just a bicycle race now. All of us with the Tour of Utah applaud the continued support to grow this event, which is now in the spotlight as an international event.”

The Teams
In addition to RadioShack, organizers have extended invitations to the other three American ProTeams.

World road champion Thor Hushovd’s Garmin-Cervélo squad is among the top international teams invited to the start in Park City, Utah. Organizers also hope that HTC-HighRoad and BMC Racing, home of former U.S. road champion George Hincapie, will be among the 15 teams to take the start on August 9.

The Stages
The prologue will move into the mountains to Park City, site of the 2010 criterium stage as well the start of the race’s queen stage. The opener took place along the Capitol in 2009 and 2010, but will be replaced in the capital city by the stage 4 circuit race.

Similar to the last two editions, stage 1 will start in Ogden, where it will also finish. Organizers would not confirm route details, but the climb of Old Snowbasin Road may feature in the new circuit.

A day later, the race moves south for its first start and finish along Utah Lake in Provo. The Mt. Nebo climb utilized since 2009 is just miles from the city center, but officials would not confirm whether it would appear in 2011.

The Miller Motorsports Park individual time trial returns this year. The stage, which has factored heavily in the final general classification in the past, will take place Friday evening in Tooele, west of Salt Lake City.

The new stage 4 circuit race in Salt Lake City will carry riders into the final day, the queen stage between Park City and Snowbird. The queen stage will take riders over the Alpine Loop near Sundance before delivering them to the finish climb of Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Officials expected route announcements and team confirmations to come later this month.

2011 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah
August 9-14
August 9 Prologue Park City
August 10 Stage 1 Ogden – Ogden
August 11 Stage 2 Provo – Provo
August 12 Stage 3 Miller Motorsports Park, ITT
August 13 Stage 4 Salt Lake City, Circuit Race
August 14 Stage 5 Park City – Snowbird