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Making an impressive comeback, Evans took his second win in a row in the final hard mountain stage of the Tour of Utah; Danielson stayed with his rivals and won the race for the second consecutive year

Photo: Sirotti














10.08.2014 @ 23:58 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

One day after his win in the queen stage, Cadel Evans (BMC) delivered another excellent performance in the final mountain stage of the Tour of Utah to take his second win in a row. Having been dropped on the final climb, he bridged the gap to the front quartet on the descent, recovered for a few kilometres and launched a perfectly timed sprint to hold off Wilco Kelderman (Belkin) and Winner Anacona (Lampre-Merida). Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp) rolled in at the back of the group to secure the overall victory for the second year in a row.


Cadel Evans may not be a prolific winner but the veteran Australian has been building a great momentum in the Tour of Utah and at the moment he seems to be unstoppable. Yesterday he won the queen stage after having launched a brave long-distance attack and today he doubled his tally in the final stage of the race.


On the final HC climb, Evans seemed to be out of the running when he had been dropped by a strong front quartet of Tom Danielson, Chris Horner, Winner Anacona and Wilco Kelderman. Showing his usual tenacity, however, he set off in pursuit and at the top, he had brought his deficit down to just 15 seconds.


Using his excellent descending skills on the short 8km descent to the finish, he bridged the gap before taking a few moments to recover. Finally, he used all his experience to pass all his rivals in the final turn before launching a furious sprint to easily hold off Kelderman and Anacona.


The stage was held on a short 125.5km course around Park City and was definitely not a ceremonial end to the race. After a flat start, the riders tackled a steep category 2 climb at the midpoint but the real challenge was the brutal Empire Pass which featured in the finale. From the top, only a very fast 8km descent remained, meaning that it was a day for the real climbers.


Keegan Swirbul (Bissell) was the only rider that didn’t take the start this morning when the riders headed out in beautiful sunny conditions. Dennis van Winden (Belkin) launched an immediate attack and set the scene for a very aggressive start of the race.


Van Winden was joined by three other riders of which Jens Voigt (Trek) was one, and when they were about to be brought back, the German attacked again. A chase group set off in pursuit but the peloton brought everything back together,


Ryan Eastman launched the next Trek attack and when he was brought back, Voigt took off again. He got some company which he dropped, and instead other riders joined him.


Cristiano Salerno (Cannondale), Jetse Bol (Belkin), Thomas Soladay (Optum), Stephen Leece (Jamis), Toms Skujins (Hincapie), Dion Smith (Hincapie), Robin Carpenter (Hincapie) and Daniel Eaton (Bissell) bridged the gap to Voigt and it seemed that the early break had been made. Sergei Tvetchov (Jelly Belly) and Tao Geoghegan Hart (Bissell) both tried to bridge the gap but came up short.


The group got a 20-second advantage but as Unitedhealthcare had missed the move, they started to chase. When the gap was down to 10 seconds, they sent Kiel Reijnen across but moments later it was back together.


The attacking continued with Belkin being particularly aggressive but when the riders reached the intermediate sprint, no one had gone clear. Sprints leader Jure Kocjan (Smartstop) beat Reijnen and his teammate Shane Kline in the battle for the points to extend his lead in the competition.


After 20km of racing, the break finally took off when Salerno, Maarten Tjallingii (Belkin), Jai Crawford (Drapac), Jacob Rathe (Jelly Belly), Matt Cooke (Jamis), Joe Lewis (Hincapie) and the Bissell pair of Tanner Putt and James Oram opened a gap. They fought hard before the elastic snapped and at the 25km mark they were 2.40 ahead.


In the peloton, Garmin was setting a steady pace with Ben King and Gavin Mannion and they allowed the gap to reach more than 4 minutes. Apparently, they had no interest in catching the break which continued to increase its advantage.


On the first climb of the day, Lewis was dropped from the break while Putt sprinted ahead to take maximum KOM points ahead of Rathe, Thallingii, Oram and Salerno. As soon as they had crested the summit, however, they saw their momentum come to a halt when Belkin decided that they wanted to go for the stage win.


The Dutch team put van Winden, Martijn Keizer and Bol on the front and the trio combined forces with Alex Howes (Garmin) in the chase. With Tjallingii sitting on, the front group started to lose ground and with 45km to go they were only 1.35 ahead.


Putt led Rathe and Salerno across the line in the intermediate sprint but at that point, the front group was only 1 minute ahead. Belkin now stopped their pace-setting and left it to Garmin to lead the peloton onto Empire Pass.


On the lower slopes of the climb, the breakaway exploded. Crawford and Tjallingii were the first to get dropped and moments later Oram also fell off the pace. Rathe managed to drop Putt, Cooke and Salerno and it didn’t take long for the Jelly Belly to be the only rider in front of the peloton.


With no teammates at his side, Danielson decided to set the pace himself and his steady riding was enough to make the race splinter to pieces. With 19km to go, Alex Diniz (Funvic) launched an attack and he easily passed the fading Rathe who fell back to the peloton.


Diniz never got much of a gap and a few hundred metres further up the road, Danielson had brought him back. At this point, only Wilco Kelderman, Chris Horner, Winner Anacona, George Bennett and Lachlan Norris were hangining onto his wheel.


Hitting a flatter section, Danielson briefly slowed down and this opened the door for Anacona to attack. Danielson quickly responded and surprisingly only Bennett could hang onto the race leader.


Anacona continued to ride hard with Danielson and Bennett on his wheel while his team leader Horner was riding with Kelderman and Diniz a little further back. Clearly wanting the stage win, Danielson again hit the front in an attempt to tire out his companions.


More riders had joined the chasers and it was now Carter Jones (Optum) setting the pace in a 10-rider group behind the front trio. They soon got some company as Bennett cracked and drifted backwards.


With 14km to go, Horner decided to make his move. The Vuelta champion made a big attack and started to close the gap to the front duo.


With 12.5km to go, the junction was made and this was the signal for Anacona to go into domestique mode. The Colombian hit the front to distance the chase group that was made up of Kelderman, Cadel Evans, Jones, Diniz, Bennett, Norris, Ilia Koshevoy and Dylan Theuns.


Kelderman now decided to give it a crack and his hard pace made the chase group splinter to pieces. Bennett was the only rider who could briefly follow the Dutchman before he got off in lone pursuit.


With Kelderman breathing down their necks, Horner also started to contribute to the pace-setting and for a little while the Lampre pair traded pulls. However, Kelderman was getting closer and 5km from the top it seemed that the junction was imminent.


This prompted Horner to make a reaction and he started to ride hard on the front. At this point, Anacona dropped his chain but managed to put it back on and rejoin the front group.


Despite Horner’s hard pace, Kelderman made the junction on a flat section that preceded the final steep part. Evans had now taken off and was in lone pursuit of the front quartet before being joined by Jones.


Despite the presence of Kelderman, the Lampre riders didn’t look back and Horner and Anacona just continued to trade pulls. In the chase group, Evans was doing all the work and he was starting to get closer, bringing the gap down to 15 seconds.


Horner led the front group over the top while Evans attacked Jones just as he crested the summit. The young American managed to respond but had a hard time keeping up with his companion on the descent.


Evans got rid of Jones and with 5km to go, he had bridged the gap to the front group. Kelderman was riding on the front while Evans took some time to recover from his hard effort.


Kelderman led the group under the flamme rouge while Evans was still riding at the back. However, the wily Australian passed them all in the final urn before launching a furious sprint to easily hold off Kelderman for his second stage win in a row.


Danielson rolled in at the back of the group to secure his overall victory ahead of Horner and Anacona who managed to pass Ben Hermans (BMC) by his great ride in the final stage. Jure Kocjan (SmartStop) won the points competition while Joseph Rosskopf (Hincapie) was the best climber. Dylan Theuns (BMC) won the youth classification while Lampre-Merida crowned a dominant performance by winning the teams classification.


Many of the riders in the Tour of Utah will be back in  action in two weeks when the USA Pro Challenge is the next important race on the American calendar.



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