Travis McCabe became the winningest rider at the Tour of Utah after claiming his second victory on the third stage of Tour of Utah in a bunch gallop. The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling rider sprinted to the line in Layton ahead of Jasper Philipsen (Axeon) and Edwin Avila (Israel Cycling Academy) after four hours of racing under the hot, Utah sun.
Feeling confident in his kick, McCabe jumped with 250 meters to go and entered into a neck and neck drag race with Philipsen, eventually pulling ahead moments before the finish.
“I was definitely worried about Jasper at first, but once I got in front of him I knew I could hold him off,” McCabe said. “Really, today was a team win because the guys did so much early on to make sure they got into the break and kept me hydrated and fresh for the finish. It’s just great to win again.”
At 188 kilometers, today’s stage was the longest of the tour. Endless water bottles couldn’t stop the salt from forming on the riders’ jerseys as they fought to establish a break in the opening moments. The team’s plan was to have representation in the break, because they knew if they didn’t, a lot of responsibility was going to be in their shoulders.
It took almost 80 kilometers for a break of 10 to get going, but finally one took off, and breakaway specialist Jonny Clarke was part of it.
“Time gaps were so big after Mt. Nebo that it was a good chance for the break to make it to the line today, hence it taking 80km to get established,” Clarke said. “Rob Britton was in the break, he’s only two minutes down on the GC, so that was the nail in the coffin for the break. Honestly, I was more out there to give my sprinters an easy ride in the back and it worked great.”
Clarke and Britton were the last riders from the breakaway to be caught with two laps to go, and from there Jelly Belly took charge until the young Hagens Berman Axeon team burst to the front for Philipsen. McCabe’s lead out rider, Seba Haedo was able to overcome the Axeon train and get to the front, but Philipsen jumped on the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling rider’s wheel, with McCabe right behind. After Haedo pulled off, it was a drag race to the line, with McCabe pulling ahead by a wheel length.
“The plan was to use Haedo to get into position and lead me out, saving the other guys for the climbs the next three days,” McCabe said. “It worked out perfectly, we kind of surfed the Axeon lead out train until about 500 meters to go. Then I had Haedo go full out to place me in good position. I knew it was still bit early, so I let Jasper jump in on to Haedo’s wheel. I wasn’t really concerned though because I knew it was a crosswind and an uphill fitness and I felt confident in my kick. So, I jumped with about 250 meters to go and it turned into a drag race to the line.”
Tomorrow’s Salt Lake City Circuit Race stage is another opportunity for the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling team to shine. At 114km, it’s a short, but lumpy affair around the metropolitan area.
Photo: Jonathan Devich