Team is Prepared, Focused, and Well-Rounded Heading into 2016 Tour of Utah
Expecting a challenging and hilly course at the 2016 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team brings a squad comprised of climbers, all-rounders, and fast finishers to contest the long days and many king of the mountain competitions across Utah’s diverse terrain. Marking its 10th appearance in the race, The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team is the only squad to have participated in every edition of the Tour of Utah since 2006.
Mike Tamayo will be directing the team on the road in Utah. His experience combined with the climbing talent of the squad gives Tamayo an optimistic view of the team’s chances over the seven-day race, “The Tour of Utah has historically been one of the toughest races when it comes to climbing. We kept that in mind and are bringing not just one talented climber but our four best General Classification riders for this tour. Our riders have been preparing at altitude for some time now, and we are looking forward to a great week.”
2016 Tour of Utah Roster
The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team roster in Utah will include Matthew Busche, the 2015 U.S. Professional Road Race national champion. He will be joined by strong climber Daniel Jaramillo and versatile sprinter Marco Canola. Jaramillo won the famed Gila Monster stage at the Tour of the Gila this year, and came away from the race with the Polka Dot jersey representing the leader in the Mountains Competition. Canola is known for a fast finishing kick, but can also hang with the best as the road pitches upwards. Canola finished third overall at the 2016 Philadelphia International Cycling Classic.
Johnny Clarke has shown strong form throughout the season, starting with a third place finish on the punchy Arthur’s Seat climb at the Herald Sun Tour. Veteran Slovenian rider Janez Brajkovic is a known face in the US peloton after years of experience racing at the highest level. It’s this knowledge that the team will turn to as the regular cross winds and sharp climbs splinter the pack across Utah’s high desert landscape.
Tanner Putt, a Utah native and a two-time (2013-14) U.S. National U23 Road Race champion, is a fast finisher and a rock-solid all-rounder when the team’s plan requires a tenacious rider in the breakaway. Although the 2016 route is a dream for the climbers, Putt will serve double duty in looking after the climbers on the flatter stages, and contesting every sprint opportunity he can. Putt was excited for his home race, commenting, “This year’s Tour of Utah is another really tough and hilly course. We have a lot of really good climbers for this race that I will be supporting on the flatter stages. I will be aggressive from the start and take any opportunity I get for my home race.” Alongside Putt, the team has Daniel Eaton and Chris Jones to help shepherd the team on the transitions between climbs. Eaton has shown very promising time trial form that will be put to good use on the front of the pack in Utah, while Jones has proven year after year that he can perform and contribute at the highest level on courses of any pitch or length.
The Tour of Utah begins on Monday, Aug. 1, at Zion Canyon Village in the southern region of the state. The opening 84-mile (135 km) leg takes riders through the jagged spires of The Watchman in Zion National Park. Real racing will begin after teams exit the East Entrance to the park. The serpentine route passes lava fields and alpine forests of the Dixie National Forest, cresting at 9,600 feet above sea level near Cedar Breaks National Monument. There are two KOM climbs on the stage, and Orderville will host a new Utah Sports Commission Sprint line this year. The racers will make a 20-mile descent to Cedar City, which last hosted the Tour in 2013 and 2014. Spectators will enjoy three frenetic downtown circuits, 2.5 miles each lap, with the finish on the campus of Southern Utah University.
Stage 2 features a new start location in the town of Escalante, famous for its slot canyons and close proximity to Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The peloton will gain 9,435 vertical feet over the 99-mile route, including KOM climbs of Hogsback and Boulder Mountain. A new 17-mile circuit in the finish town of Torrey will be featured for the first time, creating excitement for fans and racers alike.
The third stage transitions from the red rock panoramas of southern Utah to the Wasatch Mountains of the northern region for the longest stage of the week. Richfield hosts the start of the 119-mile (191.5 km) road race with sprints in Manti and Fountain Green. Then the riders will crest Mount Nebo at 9,300 feet for the one KOM on the day, before a twisting 22-mile descent into Payson, Utah.
Stage 4, presented by UnitedHealthcare, brings the racing back to Salt Lake County for the 10th time. The 96-mile (154.4 km) route is flatter than the previous days, finishing at the Utah Olympic Oval in what is likely to be an all-out sprint for the line.
Stage 5 travels 115.6 miles (186 km) from Antelope Island State Park to Bountiful, Utah. The route was used to great acclaim in 2015, with short, but very steep climbs and four KOMs. Two nine-mile circuits in Bountiful finish off the day, on what will be a great opportunity for breakaways.
The “Queen Stage” of the Tour of Utah takes place six days into an already challenging route, with the race beginning at Snowbasin Resort. After covering 114 miles (183.4 km) and 11,165 feet of climbing, the race will finish at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. The true showdown for the climbers begins with the 11-percent gradient Guardsman Pass, followed by a 14-mile descent through Big Cottonwood Canyon. The race concludes with the final six-mile HC climb of Little Cottonwood Canyon, for the finish at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort.
The Sunday finale on Aug. 7 covers 78 miles (125.5 km) with a new start and finish in Park City. The route has 7,883 feet of climbing, including Empire Pass, the KOM of the final stage. This six-mile section of rough pavement has pitches greater than 20 percent. The technical descent into Park City is then capped off with a final finishing circuit to decide the overall winner of the 2016 race.Stage info courtesy of www.tourofutah.com, visit the race site for more info!
In 2015, the team started the Tour of Utah with a bang, as former team rider Kiel Reijnen won the opening stage. The UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team rode in defense of the Yellow Jersey for most of the week, showing depth and strength on the strenuous climbs. Knowing what it takes to set a rider up for victory, the team will come back to the race with the same fortitude and tenacity that has proven successful in years past. To watch the UnitedHealthcare Blue Train tackle the mighty Tour of Utah, see the coverage schedule below, check your local listings, and visit www.tourofutah.com for more livestream details.