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Coming around Tanner in the downhill sprint, Dahl narrowly held Joyce and Zabel off to take a surprise win on stage one of the Tour of Utah; the Canadian is the first leader of the race

Photo: Sirotti








01.08.2016 @ 20:02 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

On the day when Ryder Hesjedal announced his retirement, young Canadian Kris Dahl (Silber Pro Cycling) delivered a major surprise on the first stage of the Tour of Utah when he beat all the pre-race favourites in a very fast downhill sprint. Coming off David Tanner’s wheel, he narrowly held Colin Joyce (Axeon) and Rick Zabel (BMC) off in the bunch kick and so both took the biggest victory of his career and became the first leader of the seven-day race.


Earlier today, Canadian cycling was dealt a major blow when the country’s biggest star Ryder Hesjedal announced his retirement. However, the country soon got something to celebrate as 24-year-old Kris Dahl delivered a major surprise in the first stage of the Tour of Utah.


Dahl has been riding for the Smartstop team since 2014 but he hasn’t achieved any major results. However, after joining the Canadian Silber Pro Cycling team for this season, he has shown significant progress.


Dahl first showed his potential when he finished third in a stage of the Tour of the Gila but still he had gone completely unnoticed in the build-up to the first two sprint stages of the Tour of Utah. While everybody was talking about the likes of Eric Young, Heinrich Haussler, Travis McCabe, Rick Zabel and Kiel Reijnen, no one had even mentioned Dahl as a potential contender but he gave all his star rivals a lesson in sprinting when he came out on top in a very fast downhill sprint on the first day of the tough American race.


The 12th edition of the Tour of Utah kicked off with a short 135.2km stage that brought the riders from Zion Canyon Village to Cedar City. After 20 relatively easy kilometres, the next 70km were all uphill and led to the top of the Bristlecone climb at the 95km mark, with another KOM sprint coming 23km before that point. However, the final 40km consisted of a long descent and three laps of a relatively flat 4.1km circuit.


It was nice sunny day when the 120 riders gathered for the start and they enjoyed a long, relaxed spin through the relatively long neutral zone. As soon as the flag was dropped, Jordan Cheyne (Jelly Belly) attacked and he was immediately joined by riders Simon Pellaud (IAM) and a rider from both Unitedhealthcare and Axeon.


The quartet briefly seemed to ride away but as more riders joined from behind, Pellaud went again. This time he had Matteo Dal-Cin (Silber) rider for company and the pair were soon joined by Daniel Jaramillo (Unitedhealthcare), Adrien Costa (Axeon) and Kyle Murphy (Jamis).


The peloton was pleased with the composition of the break and so slowed down completely. Already after seven kilometres of riding, the gap had gone out to more than a minute.


The gap went out to 4.35 before the Rally team put Tom Zirbel and Adam De Vos on the front to try to keep the situation under control and later set up a sprint for Eric Young. While they rode on the front, Pellaud and Dal-Cin sprinted for the points in the first intermediate sprint. It became a very tactical battle and ultimately it was the Swiss who came out on top. Murphy rolled across the line in third.


Entering the final 100km, the gap was still 4.30 and it stayed between 4.30 and 5.00 as they slowly started to climb. The hard terrain took its toll on Murphy who was left behind. At the same time, Heinrich Haussler (IAM) who had been ill in the days leading up to the race, was forced to abandon.


With 75km to go, the gap was still 4.50 and this was the signal for BMC to come to the fore. The American team put Fabian Lienhard on the front and he started to share the work with Zirbel and De Vos who had been doing it all alone for several kilometres. Cannondale also put Ben King on the front and the American took some huge turns on the front to string out the group. He even got a bit of help from a Novo Nordisk rider before the work was left entirely to King and Lienhard.


At the bottom of the first climb, the gap was still five minutes and so Jonathan Dibben (Cannondale) came to the fore to work with King and Lienhard. Meanwhile, the escapees battled for the KOM poits and it was Costa who tried to attack from afar. Jaramillo reacted quickly but Dal-Cin slowly paced himself and Pellaud back to the two leaders. Costa kept riding on the front until Dal-Cin took over but no one could match Jaramillo who easily beat Costa and Dal-Cin in the sprint for the points.


King led the peloton almost all the way up the climb, crossing the line 4.10 behind the leaders and then left it to teammates Dibben and Phil Gaimon and Lienhard to continue the pace-setting as they returned to flatter roads and entered the final 60km. Ten kilometres later they had reduced the gap to 3.00 and the situation seemed to be under control.


Five kilometres from the top of the climb, Laurent Didier (Trek) started to take pulls on the front, working with Gaimon, Dibben and Lienhard to slowly reduce the gap. At the same time, riders were getting dropped and several groups had been tailed off.


The climb had clearly taken its toll and the fight for the KOM points was less fierce than it was I the first sprint. Jaramillo accelerated 150m from the top and easily beat Costa who was the only one to respond, with Dal-Cin rolling across the line in third. The peloton reached the top 2.30 later.


Right after the top, Costa accelerated but the group stayed together as they started the very fast descent. However, the group soon split as Dal-Cin and Pellaud who had both been in difficulty on the climb, went off the front and opened a 10-second advantage.


In the peloton, more sprint teams came to the fore on the descent where Trek, BMC and Fortuneo-Vital Concept were all active in trying to bring the break back. Meanwhile, Dal-Cin and Pellaud pressed on and they reached the bottom of the descent and the final 20km with an advantage of 25 seconds over their two chasers and 2.05 over the peloton.


Back on flat roads, Cannondale, BMC, Unitedhealthcare and Trek all put a rider on the front to try to bring the break back. BMC even added an extra rider to the chase and the effort paid off as the chasers were brought back with 13km to go.


Dibben was taking some massive turns for Cannondale and Manuel Senni, Taylor Eisenhart and Lienhard were working hard for BMC but the gap was still 50 seconds at the first passage of the finish line. After one lap of the circuit, they had lost 30 seconds and a bunch sprint seemed to be the likely outcome.


Pellaud and Dal-Cin did their best to stay away but with 5km to go, it was all over. Just in that moment, the Lupus team hit the front with two riders but BMC soon took over again with Senni who led the peloton across the line for the penultimate time.


Matthieu Jeannes and Chad Beyer again hit the front for Lupus but very soon it was ONE taking over with one rider. When he swung off, Trek took control with Julien Bernard leading Eugenio Alafaci and protected sprinter Kiel Reijnen into position.


It was too early for the American team and so they backed off to allow a BMC rider to take a turn. As the pace wasn’t very fast, Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) attacked with a Nippo-Vini Fantini rider and surprisingly Reijnen joined the move. However, they were brought back almost immediately.


Holowesko hit the front and then led Robin Carpenter sneak away. The American got a small gap and was the first rider through the final turn while Alafaci was leading the chase for Trek. He didn’t get any help and so it looked like Carpenter would make it.


Unfortunately, Carpenter could see his gap melt away when David Tanner (IAM) launched a long sprit. Dahl managed to come around and in a very close downhill sprint where everybody was almost going at the same speed, he narrowly held off the fast-finishing Colin Joyce and Rick Zabel to take a hugely surprising victory.


With the win, Dahl is of course the first leader of the race as he holds a four-second advantage over Joyce. He should get another chance to sprint tomorrow in stage 2 which brings the riders from Escalante to Torrey. Again there’s a big climb on the menu as a lumpy start and the warm-up climb at Hogsback leads to the difficult Boulder Mountain. However, the top comes at the 84km mark which means that there are still 75km to go. After the descent, the riders will head to the finish where they will end the race by doing two laps of a relatively flat 27.3km circuit. In the end, a slightly uphill finishing straight of 1800m await the riders in Torrey.



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