Race Report: Belgian Ben Hermans of Israel Cycling Academy successfully fended off all challengers to earn the top prize at the 2019 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah in front of huge crowds in Park City on Sunday. Hermans rode a masterful race to finish fourth on Stage 6 presented by Utah Sports Commission and take the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall Leader title.
“From the first time that I did this race in 2014, I had a good feeling with this race and I kept getting better results in the G.C.,” said Hermans, who was fourth overall in 2014 and runner-up in 2017 at the Tour of Utah. “It’s really amazing. I really enjoy it here. It’s amazing to ride for these crowds. And to be there on the podium in the yellow jersey is really, really nice.”
Stage 6 presented by Utah Sports Commission found a select group of riders battling for the overall victory on the Hors Category climb of Empire Pass, followed by the thrilling descent into Park City. American Joe Dombrowski of EF Education First attacked multiple times on Empire Pass before blasting downhill solo at speeds reaching 70 kilometers per hour and took his first victory in four years.
“I wanted to win the stage today. I know Empire. I’ve done this climb a number of times in training and obviously have done this climb quite a few times in the race,” said Dombrowski, whose last time on the top step of the podium came in 2015 at the Tour of Utah at Snowbird Resort, when he also won the G.C. title.
“Eventually I decided to ease off on the climb and hopefully some guys would come back. And then, maybe it would present another opportunity to go just at the very top (of the climb), because if you have a gap on the descent, normally you can keep it to the line. And it worked out.” Dombrowski finished the 78.2-mile (125.9-kilometer) stage in a time of 3 hours and 11 minutes.
João Almeida (POR) of Hagens Berman Axeon led the four-rider chase group across the finish line, 24 seconds behind Dombrowski for second place. Keegan Swirbul (USA) of Worthy Pro Cycling was third and Hermans fourth.
The 15th edition of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, known as “America’s Toughest Stage Race,” included 477 miles of racing and 37,882 feet of elevation gain. Over the course of seven days of hard racing, three different riders wore the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall Leader’s yellow jersey. Hermans climbed into the lead on Stage 2 presented by Monster Hydro in Powder Mountain Resort and never lost time.
“I think now it’s for sure the toughest race,” Hermans noted. “It’s even the toughest race of Europe I think. It’s hard to climb at this altitude.”
The final G.C. time for Hermans was 18 hours and 46 minutes. James Piccoli (CAN) of Elevate – KHS Pro Cycling, who won the Prologue, was fifth on Stage 6 and finished second in the G.C. With the stage win, Dombrowski moved to third overall. Placing fourth overall was Almeida, who claimed the WCF Insurance Best Young Rider jersey. Swirbul jumped up three spots to finish eighth overall.
“I think the heat, the altitude, the short(er) stages, everything adds up to making it one of the toughest races in the U.S. It’s full gas every day. There’s no respite, there are no days that are easy,” Travis McCabe (USA) of Worthy Pro Cycling said after claiming his third consecutive Utah Sports Commission Sprint jersey.
“We really wanted to come out, showcase Worthy Brewing, showcase how strong of a domestic team we have, and also just get the results. Keegan (finishing) third today, me taking the sprint jersey, Serghei (Tvetcov) third in the Prologue and second in the Salt Lake City stage, I think we’ve showed the depth that we have on a smaller team. It feels great. I love Utah, it’s one of my favorite races all year long, and proud to have the Utah Sports Commission Sprint jersey again,” McCabe added.
The start of Stage 6 presented by Utah Sports Commission featured a group of 23 riders who broke away from the 101-rider peloton at the first of two Utah Sports Commission Sprint lines in Kamas. Kept on a short leash by Israel Cycling Academy, the escapees were reeled back in on the bottom of Empire Pass, the second Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain climb before the battle for stage and G.C. podium places.
Hayden McCormick (NZL) of Team BridgeLane defended the Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain Leader jersey. Racing aggressively throughout the seven days of racing, Piccoli was awarded the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider jersey. Fans selected Tony Baca (MEX) of 303 Project as the America First Credit Union Fan Favorite in the Overall Fan Favorite category. EF Education First finished as the best overall team.
“It was a great week of racing. We are so proud of this state and we wanted to showcase it to the world. Thank you to the Miller family, for our nine host communities, for the over 50 corporate partners that step up to make this race happen, and most importantly, to the volunteers that step up and really contribute to pull this thing off,” said Tour of Utah Managing Director John Kimball. “This is our 15th year. The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah is proud to say that we’re going to be back next year. We look forward to working with the UCI in getting those dates this fall and we’re excited to see where we are going to go next year.”
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).
RESULTS AND STANDINGS
Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah Stage 6 p/b Utah Sports Commission Result:
1. Joe Dombrowski (USA) EF Education First in 3:11:09
2. João Almeida (Por) Hagens Berman Axeon at 0:24
3. Keegan Swirbul (USA) Worthy Pro Cycling at 0:26
4. Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy
5. James Piccoli (Can) Elevate-KHS at 0:30
6. Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First at 1:24
7. Matteo Badilatti (Swi) Israel Cycling Academy at 1:39
8. Kyle Murphy (USA) Rally UHC at 1:58
9. Rob Britton (Can) Rally UHC at 2:06
10. Lachlan Morton (Aus) EF Education First at 2:11.
Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah 2019 Final Overall Result:
1. Ben Hermans (Bel) Israel Cycling Academy in 18:46:09
2. James Piccoli (Can) Elevate-KHS at 0:50
3. Joe Dombrowski (USA) EF Education First at 1:32
4. João Almeida (Por) Hagens Berman Axeon at 2:26
5. Niklas Eg (Den) Trek-Segafredo at 2:57
6. Kyle Murphy (USA) Rally UHC at 3:20
7. Lawson Craddock (USA) EF Education First at 4:08
8. Keegan Swirbul (USA) Worthy Pro Cycling at 4:40
9. Peter Stetina (USA) Trek-Segafredo at 5:22
10. Matteo Badilatti (Swi) Israel Cycling Academy at 5:28.
# Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall leader – Ben Hermans (BEL) of Israel Cycling Academy
# Utah Sports Commission Sprint leader – Travis McCabe (USA) of Worthy Pro Cycling
# Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain – Hayden McCormick (NZL) of Team BridgeLane
# WCF Insurance Best Young Rider – João Almeida (POR) of Hagens Berman Axeon
# Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider – James Piccoli (CAN) of Elevate – KHS Pro Cycling
# America First Credit Union Fan Favorite – Tony Baca (MEX) of 303 Project