The mountains await: Tour of Utah preview
With a total of 536 miles of racing and 43,780 feet of elevation gain, the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, to be held August 6-12, is no walk in the park. UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling has formed a diverse, competitive squad to do battle against some of the best teams in the world on the toughest, yet most beautiful terrain in the southwest.
Mannion, Tvetcov eye GC success
GC hopeful Gavin Mannion, who took an incredible second in last year’s overall competition, has put in a large amount of time and energy into the upcoming Utah and Colorado block.
“It’s quite possibly the last two races of the season for me and they both suit me pretty well, so I’ve focused the second half of my season on these events,” Mannion said. “I’ve spent time training up at high altitude near Breckenridge and Vail in Colorado and have checked out some of the courses there as well. More recently, I’ve come out to Park City to do my final prep for Utah and see some of the major climbs again before we race. I’m feeling good physically and mentally. The level of competition is going to be higher than last year with the addition of more World Tour teams but definitely looking forward to the challenge.”
Complementing Mannion’s GC aspirations is Serghei Tvetcov, whose most recent result is a win at the Chrono Kristin Armstrong against strong TT specialists and has shown steady improvement from spring to summer. Tvetcov finished third last year, a podium step below Mannion, and is looking to display his fantastic form in the opening prologue as well as the mountains of Utah.
“Tvetcov is really looking forward to having a very good tour of Utah and Colorado Classic,” director Seba Alexandre said. “Having Serghei riding better every race really gives all of us all extra motivation.”
With stages 3 and 4 favoring the sprinters, UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling added Redlands stage winner Seba Haedo and last year’s points jersey and stage victor Travis McCabe to the line-up.
To prepare, McCabe said he’s been upping his climbing regimen to be more comfortable on the mountain heavy stages. He’s coming back to Utah with the goal of winning two stages and securing the Tour of Utah points jersey for the second year in a row.
“My coach has been forcing me to do a ton of threshold work up Lookout Mt.,” McCabe said. “I’ve been going up and down and up and down that thing for the past couple months, but I can tell all the climbing is finally paying off. This year’s Tour of Utah will be extremely difficult with the amount of climbing involved, but I’m really looking forward to it. I’ve put in my time and I’m climbing better than I ever have before. I’ve also been doing a fair bit of group rides and motor pacing to maintain the speed and power on the flatlands, so I’d say I’m very much prepared and excited to race. I can’t wait to get the show on the road.”
Overall winner of the 2017 Tour de Hongrie, Daniel Jaramillo will be motivated to take on the mountain stages, along with Janier Acevedo, who has won stages of Tour of California (’13), USA Pro Challenge (’13) and Tour of Utah (’11). Jonny Clarke rounds out the roster as the team’s breakaway specialist and opportunist.
“For the last two weeks, Sebastian Haedo and I have been staying in Park City preparing for Tour of Utah,” Clarke said. “I think we bring a well-balanced team and can be competitive in all stages.”