American Tejay van Garderen was the fastest man in St. George with a time of 6 minutes and 27 seconds, leading a BMC Racing Team sweep of the podium in Monday’s Prologue at the 2018 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.
“I love Utah, I have a long history here. This was my first professional victory in 2011 in the TT (Time Trial) at the Tour of Utah,” said van Garderen, who comes off one rest week after racing the Tour de France. He will wear the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Leader’s jersey on Tuesday. “I just came here to have some fun, keep the body rolling. I told myself if there is a chance for a result, I’ll take it and today was a great opportunity for that.”
Reigning U.S. Pro Individual Time Trial champion Joe Rosskopf finished four seconds back in second place. Tom Bohli (SUI), who sat in the hot seat for most of the day, finished in third, six seconds off the pace.
Surrounded by inspiring views of the Red Hills Desert Garden at Pioneer Park on the northern cliffs above downtown St. George, van Garderen bested 116 other riders in the opening day of racing for the weeklong stage race. Pacing was key on the out-and-back 3.3-mile (5.3 kilometer) course, where temperatures soared above 100 degrees. The riders started with a mellow climb for the first two kilometers and continued with a short downhill to the turnaround.
“We started out uphill. The gradient was, I think, higher than people expected, or what it looked like,” van Garderen explained. “So you had to overpace on the way out, and then you’re basically screaming at 75k (kilometers) an hour all the way to the finish line. You don’t want to blow up, but at the same time gauge your efforts well.”
A total of 36 riders are now separated by 20 seconds at the top of the standings, making for an exciting opening to the 14th edition of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Finishing fourth, American Neilson Powless of Team LottoNL-Jumbo claimed the WCF Insurance Best Young Rider jersey. Sixth on the day, 11 seconds from the win, Serghei Tvetcov (ROM) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team was voted the America First Credit Union Fan Favorite, in the category of International Rider.
Stage 1 presented by America First Credit Union returns to Cedar City for a fourth time tomorrow. The 101-mile (162.5 km) Stage 1 route includes 8,950 feet of elevation gain. It also features the highest climb of the week, passing Cedar Breaks National Monument at 10,600 feet. The course is similar to the one used in 2016, this year with a new circuit finish in downtown Cedar City. The first Utah Sports Commission Sprint line will be contested in Parowan, then hit a Category 1 climb at the top of Parowan Canyon at the ski resort town of Brian Head. This ascent climbs 4,500 vertical feet in 15 miles, with some sections challenging riders with a 15 percent gradient.
Activities begin at 10 a.m. at 300 West Center Street, near SUMA. Racers will leave the starting line at 10:50 a.m., with the top finishers expected back to the same location at about 2:45 p.m.