Race Report: Italian Umberto Marengo of Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM accelerated away from a six-rider group in a surprise attack to win Stage 1 presented by Larry H. Miller Group of Companies at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Marengo covered the 87-mile (139.9-kilometer) course in 3 hours and 23 minutes.
Lawson Craddock (USA) of EF Education First finished second, with the same time as Marengo. With a time bonus, this vaulted the American into the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall Leader’s yellow jersey. Edwin Avila (COL) of Israel Cycling Academy finished third close behind Craddock’s wheel.
“The team worked perfectly. We had Manuel Bongiorno in the breakaway so no one had to work until the final laps. When Bongiorno had a flat tire, the team moved forwards,” Marengo commented via a team translator. “On the last lap, I and [Sebastian] Schönberger decided to attack. Schönberger was not as fast as me so Schönberger worked for me, and started to anticipate with three K (kilometers) to go. At the end, this was the perfect move because I could launch my sprint and win.”
Fans were treated to a thrilling finish in North Logan City for five finishing circuits of action-packed racing. Canadian James Piccoli of Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling, who won the Prologue presented by Zions Bank on Monday’s first day of racing, suffered a flat tire on the penultimate lap forcing him to chase back onto the surging peloton. Taking full advantage of the chaos, Craddock initiated a counter-attack just as Piccoli had rejoined the peloton.
“Everyone was on the limit. Alex (Howes) made a really good call. He noticed that there was a small riser with three and a half, four K (kilometers) to go in the middle of the descent that would be a good place to launch an attack. I kind of went from there. I was able to get some speed, get a gap and from there, there was five or six of us and the race played out,” Craddock said of his attack on the final circuit in North Logan City.
In the General Classification (G.C.), Craddock has a six-second lead over João Almeida (POR) of Hagens Berman Axeon, who was fourth on the stage. Remaining in third place on the G.C. is Serghei Tvetcov (ROM) of Worthy Pro Cycling, 12 seconds down. Moving into sixth place is Joe Dombrowski (USA) of EF Education First, the overall winner of the 2015 Tour of Utah, who is 21 seconds back. Piccoli is now 26 seconds back and sits in 13th position.
Under sunny skies, the early breakaway of five riders escaped the 113-man field only five miles into the Stage 1 presented by Larry H. Miller Group of Companies. Elevate-KHS kept the escapees on a short leash, allowing only a maximum of a two and a half minute lead on the hot day. After being out front for 75 miles, the final remaining rider of the early breakaway, Travis Samuel (CAN) of DC Bank Pro Cycling Team, was reeled in, giving way to an exciting finale. Samuel was awarded the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider jersey.
In addition to the stage win, Marengo also claimed the Utah Sports Commission Sprint jersey. Almeida retained the Subaru Best Young Rider jersey. Samuel Boardman (USA) of Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling presented by Maxxis will wear the Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain jersey. The America First Credit Union Fan Favorite jersey was awarded to Maxx Chance (USA) of Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling, winning in the Best Ambassador category.
“There’s a very strong field here. It’s nice to come back here to America and do that animating for once,” added Craddock at the post-race press conference. “That was kind of the point that we (EF Education First) had coming into this race, where we wanted to really just race our bikes, and find the enjoyment back in that. Today was a big step for that, and we’re looking forward to the rest of the race.”
Stage 2 presented by Monster Hydro brings a wild west showdown to the 8,900-foot summit of Powder Mountain on Wednesday, Aug. 14. The massive ascent from the town of Eden to Hidden Lake Lodge at Powder Mountain Resort is one of the steepest roads in Utah, with gradients rising to 16 percent. The 8.6-mile scale will pack a punch to the legs and lungs of the best climbers in the world.
The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah is free to all spectators, making professional cycling one of the most unique sports in the world today. The Tour of Utah is a internationally sanctioned as a 2.HC-rated stage race on the UCI America Tour, and is part of USA Cycling’s Pro Road Tour. More information about the Tour of Utah can be found by visiting www.tourofutah.com, as well as social channels Facebook (tourofutah), Twitter (tourofutah), Instagram (thetourofutah) and YouTube (tourofutah).
Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah Stage 1 p/b Larry H. Miller Group of Companies:
1. Umberto Marengo (Ita) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM in 3:23:32
2. Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First
3. Edwin Alcibiades Avila Vanegas (Col) Israel Cycling Academy
4. Griffin Easter (USA) 303 Project
5. João Almeida (Por) Hagens Berman Axeon
6. Sebastian Schönberger (Aut) Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM
7. Travis McCabe (USA) Floyd’s Pro Cycling at 0:06
8. Michael Rice (Aus) Hagens Berman Axeon
9. Tyler Magner (USA) Rally UHC
10. Cole Davis (USA) Hagens Berman Axeon.
Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah Overall After Stage 1 p/b Larry H. Miller Group of Companies:
1. Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First in 3:32:09
2. João Almeida (Por) Hagens Berman Axeon at 0:06
3. Serghei Tvetcov (Rom) Floyd’s Pro Cycling at 0:12
4. Kyle Murphy (USA) Rally UHC at 0:18
5. Gavin Mannion (USA) Rally UHC at 0:21
6. Joseph Lloyd Dombrowski (USA) EF Education First
7. Guillaume Boivin (Can) Israel Cycling Academy at 0:22
8. Keegan Swirbul (USA) Floyd’s Pro Cycling at 0:23
9. Travis McCabe (USA) Floyd’s Pro Cycling
10. Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy at 0:24.
# Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall leader – Lawson Craddock (USA) of EF Education First
# Utah Sports Commission Sprint leader – Umberto Marengo (ITA), Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM
# Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain – Samuel Boardman (USA) of Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling presented by Maxxis
# WCF Insurance Best Young Rider – João Almeida (POR) of Hagens Berman Axeon
# Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider – Travis Samuel (CAN) of DC Bank Pro Cycling Team
# America First Credit Union Fan Favorite – Maxx Chance (USA) of Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling