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Having been part of the early break, Schär rode away from his companions on the final climb in the second stage of the Tour of Utah and held off the peloton by less than a second to take a huge solo win; Kocjan sprinted to second and t...

Photo: ASO / B. Bade

JURE KOCJAN

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MICHAEL SCHÄR

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TOUR OF UTAH

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05.08.2014 @ 23:55 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Michael Schär (BMC) did the ride of his life to win the second stage of the Tour of Utah in solo fashion, narrowly holding off the reduced peloton by less than a second. Having been part of the early break, the Swiss dropped his last companion on the final climb and soloed his way to a rare victory while Jure Kocjan (SmartStop) again sprinted to second and took the overall lead.

 

Usually known as a strong domestique, Michael Schär made the rare choice to use his power to work for himself in today’s very hard second stage of the Tour of Utah. The decision paid off as the former Swiss champion took a rare victory by time trialling his way to a solo victory in Torrey.

 

After a very hard and aggressive start, Schär made it into the six-rider breakaway that eventually escaped and gradually got whittled down as the many climbs took its toll. He finally dropped Joey Rosskopf (Hincapie Development Team) on the day’s biggest climb with less than 50km to go and crested the summit with a solid lead over the reduced peloton.

 

In the finale, however, the chase got organized as several teams were keen to set up a small bunch sprint. Inside the final kilometre they got very close but Schär just managed to hold the sprinters off even though no time difference was registered.

 

After the opening sprint stage, things were significantly harder in stage 2 that brought the riders over 210.3km from Panguitsch to Torrey. Almost from the start, the riders tackled the first category 4 climbs and then did another two smaller ascents before they tackled the big Boulder Mountain which summited just 37km from the line. The final part was a long gradual descent to a flat finish.

 

Bernard Sulzberger (Drapac) failed to take the start as the riders headed out for a very fast first part of the stage. After 6km of aggressive racing, Danilo Wyss (BMC), Jens Voigt (Trek), Ben Day (UnitedHealthCare) and Gregory Brenes (Jamis) opened the first significant gap and they stayed clear for a little while before being brought back.

 

The attacking continued and again Voigt and Day were part of the action. They were joined by Schär and Rosskopf while a four-rider chase group took off as they headed up the first climb of the day.

 

Ramiro Rincon (Funvic) was the first rider to bridge the gap while Darren Lapthorne (Drapac) made the junction a little later. Tao Geoghegan (Bissell) was very close to joining the move but he cracked close to the summit of the climb where the break had fought hard against the hard-chasing peloton to build a 45-second advantage.

 

Rosskopf beat Schär, Rincon and Day in the sprint for the KOM points while the peloton absorbed all chasers and allowed to gap to grow. It reached a massive 6.30 before the Belkin team of race leader Moreno Hofland started to chase with Maartens Tjallingii doing the early.

 

Garmin-Sharp were keen not to let the GC situation get out of control and so they asked Ben King to contribute to the work. Later Phil Gaimon and Thomas Dekker also joined the team of workers and while Voigt beat Rincon and Lapthorne in the first intermediate sprint, the gap started to come down,

 

An unfortunate crash brought an end to Bjorn Selander’s race while Rincon worked hard in the front group on the second climb. At the top, Rosskopf was again the fastest as he beat Rincon and Schär in the battle for the points.

 

The gap had now come down to 5.45 and for Rincon, his time in the break had come to an end. He got dropped on the long descent and was swallowed up by the peloton.

 

Garmin roder hard on the front in the windy conditions and as Schär beat Voigt and Lapthorne in the intermediate sprint, the peloton started to split a bit. At the bottom of the third climb, the gap was down to just 3.40 as Cannondale was now also chasing with Cameron Wurf

 

Garmin rode hard on the slopes to make the race tough while Rosskopf again tried to take maximum points at the top. This time, however, he was beaten by Schär who made use of the sprint action to attack.

 

Only Rosskopf managed to latch onto his wheel and the pair quickly rode away from Voigt, Day and Lapthorne. Realizing that they would never rejoin the leaders, the trio sat up to wait for the peloton.

 

Approaching the major climb, Belkin hit the front with their entire team and Martijn Tusveld did a lot of work for his teammate Hofland. On the lower slopes, however, Garmin took over as Gavin Mannion was riding hard on the front.

 

The pace was too much for many rider who dropped off. One of them was Hofland who had to relinquish his leader’s jersey as he was unable to keep up with the Garmin riders.

 

Meanwhile, Schär was putting down the hammer and he left Rosskopf in his wake. Wurf made a small attack but when he was caught, he started to work with the Cannondale riders.

 

Near the top Matt Cooke (Jamis) launched a solo attack and he managed to build a 40-second gap to the peloton. Meanwhile, Schär had reopened his advantage and as he crested the summit his was 1.30 ahead of Rosskopf and 4.25 ahead of the peloton. KOM leader Robin Carpenter (Hincapie) sprinted ahead to take fourth in the KOM sprint ahead of Toms Skujins (Hincapie), Alex Diniz (Funvic) and Alex Howes (Garmin).

 

Schär did his best to stay away on the descent but several teams were now contributing to the chase. In addition to Garmin, UnitedHealthCare, Cannondale Smartstop and Lampre-Merida had riders riding on the front and they quickly brought Cooke back.

 

With 5km to go, the gap was still 1.05 but the advantage was now melting away. With 3km to go, Rosskopf was caught and the gap was down to just 40 seconds.

 

Despite a hard final effort from UnitedHealthCare, Schär just managed to hold off the peloton and so a frustrated Jure Kocjan had to settle for second after having beaten Sergei Tvetchov (Jelly Belly) in the sprint. The result, however, was enough for the Slovenian to take the overall lead by virtue of bonus seconds.

 

Kocjan goes into the third stage with a 2-second lead over Schär and he will get a chance to add to his lead tomorrow on a day that should be one for the sprinters. A climb at the midpoint is followed by a long, gradual descent before flat roads lead to the finish in the Miller Motorsports Park.

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