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"And then to lose the podium after Bookwalter took a gap on the downhill - that is disappointing. But this is why I was a little bit nervous of the ending today, and we saw that."

Photo: Sirotti






10.08.2015 @ 14:25 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Empire Pass – a nasty 10-kilometer ascent with a 9% average gradient – was the final uphill test for the general classification in the Tour of Utah, but the GC leaders were unable to unseat each other and crested the climb together.


Only nine kilometers remained in the weeklong Tour of Utah, but all were downhill with sharp hairpins - the race, needless to say, was not over - and 12 leaders, including Fränk Schleck, began the steep descent.


One of the toughest climbs in the USA failed to reshuffle the overall; instead it was the tricky descent off Empire Pass that threw the last strike as Brent Bookwalter (BMC) and Lachlan Norris (Drapac) attacked the steep downhill and opened a gap.  



The duo came into the fast finish with a 20-second gap. Norris grabbed the win by a hair, but Bookwalter’s second place gained him six bonus seconds - enough to leapfrog him from sixth to third overall.


It dropped Fränk Schleck from the final podium, a heartbreaking setback after Schleck proved to be one of the strongest climbers in the race all week. 


Director Alain Gallopin expressed his disappointment: “First I was not happy because they did not make a barrage on the climb and a few guys came back at the end in the flatter part with the help of the cars.  And then to lose the podium after Bookwalter took a gap on the downhill – that is disappointing. But this is why I was a little bit nervous of the ending today, and we saw that.


“Bookwalter knew the descent well, and he went full gas. It’s a game eh? It was a big focus to keep the podium and I am a little bit disappointed…but anyway, that’s bike racing.


“Fränk is disappointed to lose the podium, he’s not happy of course, but what can you do?  He was quite good on the climbs and he showed something here and I think he is ready to do a nice Vuelta."


While Fränk Schleck's next race is the Vuelta a España the rest of the team, including the newest young guns, will stay on and race the USPro Challenge in Colorado beginning in just over a week’s time. 


“I am very happy with the two young guys, they showed good potential this week,” summed up Gallopin. “Leonardo [Basso] is a good puncher, and Julien [Bernard] has never done climbs like these, but he showed something, some good possibilities. I think Colorado will be easier for them because when they arrived here they changed to a new bike and then the first stage was 215 kilometers in the rain. That was not easy. It is why I told them to slow down a little bit at the end, especially Julien, and Leonardo is younger and showed some nice things and he will be a good rider for the future.


“Calvin [Watson] and Fabio [Silvestre] did a great job – they gave everything they had and Fabio was riding stronger by the end. I was disappointed to lose Matthew [Busche] because I think that he would have showed something here. But, anyway, to have Fränk at this level – I am happy to see that.” 



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