The first stage of the 2008 Larry H Miller Tour of Utah is in the books. Under blue skies with temperatures reaching the low 90s, Garmin-Chipotle’s Jason Donald won the 3-way sprint against his breakaway companions Sheldon Deeny (Fan Sports Network) and Brad White (Successful Living).
The field crossed the line 19 seconds after the winner, with Ricardo Escuela (Successful Living) winning the sprint.
An ecstatic Donald also grabbed the yellow leader’s jersey with added time bonus of 10 seconds. White won enough points in the three HotSpot Sprint lines to win the green sprint leader’s jersey.
The field of 112 riders lined up for the 101.8-mile (162 km) flat to rolling course with 4,851 ft. (1,478 meters) of climbing. After a few early attacks, a counter initiated by Deeny and White was off and Jesse Gordon (Canyon Bicycles Utah) quickly joined in to make it a trio which led Donald to start a lonely chase.
Lucky for him, the trio waited for him and for the extra leg power needed to grow the gap, and it did grow, going all the way to seven minutes before the peloton started to reel them in. Rock Racing was leading the chase with help rolling in from the other teams such as Toyota-United, BMC and Bissell.
With less than 13 miles (20 km) to go, after the last HotSpot, Gordon lost contact with the lead group and was caught by the field before the finish line.
All in all, a fairly uneventful day except for the lead group going off course right after the first HotSpot Sprint line, with the peloton staying on course. According to race radio, the peloton asked to be neutralized to bring the break through and waited to start once the time gap was established again.
“We got a nice little break, got a bathroom break out of it.” laughed Best Young Rider Ryan Anderson a guest rider with the LandRover-Orbea team. After winning the Best Young Rider at Tour de Nez, the team is focused on repeating at Utah.
Tomorrow is when the real climbing starts, and when we see who has the legs or not. The 84.6-mile (137 km) and includes 10,585 ft (3,226 meters) of climbing over 4 rated climbs to finish in a downhill to the line in Salt Lake City.
“I think a lot of people are looking at it and thinking like yeah that’s going to be a stage where maybe the race isn’t won and it can be lost. After riding and training on it, it’s perhaps a stage where the race can be won as well. “ said Burke Swindlehurst (Bissell) about stage 2.
Jason Donald (Garmin-Chipotle), stage winner, GC leader
About thinking if the break would make it. You go out there with hopes that it will work and sometimes it works. For cyclists, it’s a dream come true, I kept thinking of Will and Danny in the Tour because they both had one the same way, it’s the best way to do it, it’s so much fun.
About the missed turn. We went off course, we went off course and then the commissaire rode by us, nobody knows what’s going us, we were all kind of disappointed, I was actually really surprised that they neutralized the peloton for us, I figured they’d let us back in.
Jesse Gordon (Canyon Bicycles Utah)
About being dropped from the break. I didn’t worry too much about it as I thought they’d sit up and I could get back on but then we rolled through that right-hand corner and they started rolling a little too early, I held it for a little bit, 10 seconds, but I was fading before that.
Brad White (Successful Living), third on stage, Sprint points leader
About the break. Everyone was working well in the break, we had three strong riders, one guy maybe not quite as strong but he was working and doing what he could with the second sprint, unfortunately he got gapped and we kept rolling and we just knew it was going to be better off that way probably, it’s unfortunate but that’s what we had to do to stay away but it was a good day, the wind wasn’t too bad, over the top it was getting worse, it was thinking it could shatter the field, I don’t know if it did but it was a good day in the break, I think heat played the biggest factor.
Full results here.
All photos copyright Lyne Lamoureux