American veterans Chris Horner (RADIOSHACK LEOPARD TREK) and Tom Danielson (Team Garmin-Sharp) attacked on the final and signature climb of today’s 113.5-mile stage race and gave crowds a thrilling two-man sprint for the finish of Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah’s Stage Five presented by Utah Sports Commission. Horner surged around Danielson for the win, and in the process Horner leaped to the top of the overall standings and into the Larry H. Miller Dealerships overall leader’s yellow jersey.
BMC Racing Team’s Yannick Eijssen (Belgium) was in the early breakaway and was the first rider to attack up Little Cottonwood Canyon. Horner and Danielson caught him with four kilometers to the finish on Tanners Flat, one of the steepest sections of the final 7.1-mile ascent to Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. Horner paced behind Danielson until the decisive sprint. Eijssen held on for third place on the stage.
Horner and Danielson are tied in overall time after five days of racing, but Horner’s stage victory has earned him the top spot on General Classification. The previous overall leader, Garmin-Sharp’s Lachlan Morton (Australia), was with the new leader heading into the final climb up Little Cottonwood Canyon but was dropped amid a series of attacks from a variety of racers and faded off the back, finishing 4:05 behind Horner.
“I hope we put on a good show. I hope the fans at home really enjoyed what they watched, because it was some of the best bike racing I’ve seen all year,” Horner stated about the four hour and 52 minute showdown from Snowbasin Resort to Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. “Here in Utah, we put on a show today for the fans and I know you guys got your money’s worth and your time’s worth and your energies’ worth.
In third place on the G.C. is UnitedHealthcare’s Lucas Euser (USA), 33 seconds behind Horner and Danielson. Another pair of RADIOSHACK, Matthew Busche (USA) and George Bennett (NZL) are fourth and fifth, respectively, just 37 seconds back.
The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah’s “Queen Stage” is traditionally the hardest day of racing with the most climbing of the race. The 2013 stage route is different than in years past, with a new climb over Guardsman’s Pass, the highest climb of the race since the opening Stage One start at Brian Head. After a long descent of Big Cottonwood Canyon, the route took the familiar Hors Categorie (HC) Little Cottonwood Canyon to Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort.
“It was a blast for me to race with Chris Horner,” said Danielson, a former teammate with Horner in 2003 on the former Saturn racing team. “I would have liked to win the stage and drop him, but there’s no way that you’re going to drop him in that percent (of gradient) with a headwind and as strong as he is. But I enjoyed it and it was a really nice day.”
Bissell Pro Cycling’s Michael Torckler was part of an early breakaway and picked up enough points to hold onto his Ski Utah King of the Mountain jersey for another day. The XO Communications sprint leader’s jersey still belongs to BMC Racing Team’s Greg Van Avermaet (Belgium). Morton, despite losing the overall lead today, retains his advantage in the Subaru Best Young Rider competition. Eijssen was awarded the Vivint Most Aggressive rider jersey.
Horner’s win sets up what will be an epic final day tomorrow for the Tour of Utah with powerhouse ProTeams RADIOSHACK LEOPARD TREK and Team Garmin-Sharp keeping each other in check, while preventing any other teams from playing spoiler.
Sunday brings Stage Six presented by VLCM and Barracuda Networks. The 78-mile stage begins and ends in historic downtown Park City. The route passes six ski resorts in the Wasatch Front. The two Ski Utah KOM climbs feature a Category 2 ascent of Wolf Creek Ranch and the HC climb of Empire Pass, for a total of 7,633 feet of vertical gain. One XO Communications Sprint line awaits the field in Midway, before the final climb. Stage Six presented by the VLCM and Barracuda Networks will begin at 12:15 p.m. MT, and finish at approximately 3:45 p.m. MT.
Across the United States, FOX Sports Network (FSN) continues as the official U.S. broadcast partner for the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. All six days of programming on FSN will be produced in high definition. The live coverage on FSN is scheduled daily to coincide with race finishes and award ceremonies, 4-6 p.m. (ET) on August 6-8 and 10-11; 7-9 p.m. (ET) on August 9. A one-hour highlight program will be televised on FSN at 11 p.m. (local time).
In addition, live race coverage will also be available online and with mobile applications via Tour TrackerTM powered by Adobe®. At every turn, Tour Tracker will deliver cycling fans access to comprehensive live coverage including broadcast video, real-time GPS location, speed, slope and elevation data, and social media feeds. A portal for all Tour TrackerTM powered by Adobe® coverage will be available during race week at TourofUtah.com.
Photo courtesy Garmin-Sharp