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Logan Owen knows the obstacles of cyclocross racing as well as any rider in the Tour of Utah. He now knows the nuances of pack sprinting pretty well, too.
Owen, 20, a second-year pro from Bremerton, Washington, maneuvered through the field on the long Main Street straightaway in Bountiful to claim his first career pro road win in the 109-mile stage 3 from Antelope Island State Park.
“It’s definitely the biggest win of my career, by far,” said the Axeon rider, who claimed 10 consecutive national junior cyclocross titles. “I didn’t have time to react. I knew I won, but it hasn’t sunken in yet. It’s crazy.”
While the weeklong race moves closer to the anticipated mountainous showdown among the overall title contenders in stages 6 and 7, Owen’s win continued the early race trend. The 120-rider field has had three different stage winners, none of whom are pure sprinters and none of whom are likely to contend for the overall title.
Race favorite Chris Horner (Airgas-Safeway), runner-up the past two years, is 16th overall, trailing race leader Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare) by 14 seconds. Frank Schleck (Trek Factory Racing), the multi-time top-10 Tour de France finisher, is in 19th overall, also trailing by 14 seconds. Owen’s stage win vaulted him into second overall, four seconds behind, thanks to a time bonus.
“I was just trying to stay as close to the front as possible,” said Owen, who arrived at the Tour of Utah after a month without any major races following his 11th-place finish at under-23 U.S. road nationals. “It was fast and it was little dangerous. I was just trying to be up there for the finish, and it worked out perfectly.”
Owen’s top results road results this season, prior to his stage 3 win, included sixth in stage 5 of the Tour de Beauce and ninth in final stage of the Tour of California.
Owen is among the strong contingent of younger pros in the field. But the mix also includes several veteran riders in addition to Horner, 43, and Schleck, 35. Brent Bookwalter (BMC), 31, is an eighth-year pro who finished third in stage 2 and was second in stage 3. Ben Jacques-Maynes (Jamis-Hagens Berman) 36, was an early animator in stage 2.
“It’s really cool that the older guys are here; they’ve been doing this for a long time,” Owen said. “It’s really good to ride and be in there and learn from them.”
He seems to be learning quickly, and Owen made it clear that road racing is far more than just a way to occupy his summers. “I don’t want to be known as just the cyclocross guy.”