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,” said van Garderen, who had come off of a week of rest after racing the Tour de France. “This was my first professional victory in 2011 in the [time trial] at the Tour of Utah.”
Van Garderen will wear the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Leader’s jersey on Tuesday.
“I just came here to have some fun, keep the body rolling,” he said. “I told myself if there is a chance for a result, I’ll take it, and today was a great opportunity for that.”
In 2011, he finished fourth in the opening prologue, which was held in Park City. Later that week he won the individual time trial on Stage 3 in Tooele, Utah.
Reigning U.S. pro ITT champion Joe Rosskopf finished four seconds back in second place. Tom Bohli (Switzerland), who sat in the hot seat for most of the day, finished in third, six seconds off the pace.
“It was a really, really brutal prologue,” Bohli said. “I was hoping I could win it today. But then as Joey beat me, my second reaction was ‘Yeah, it’s Joey’. First of all I like that guy, he’s a good mate and it’s BMC. [It’s] good for us and good for him.”
Bohli is a two-time U23 silver medalist in the time trial and a world champion on the track.
“As Tejay beat us, winning the prologue today, showed that he is in really good shape and he can go for the win. It gives us good confidence,” Bohli added.
‘Screaming at 75k an hour’
Surrounded by 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 said. “So you had to overpace on the way out, and then you’re basically screaming at 75k 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.”
Where things stand
A total of 36 riders are now separated by 20 seconds at the top of the standings.
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 (Romania) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team was voted the America First Credit Union Fan Favorite, in the category of International Rider.
Fifth on the stage, Pascal Eenkhoom (Netherlands) of Team LottoNL-Jumbo was awarded the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider jersey. Rosskopf claimed the Utah Sports Commission Sprint jersey and Bohli was awarded the Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain jersey.
Joe Dombrowski (USA) of EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale, the overall winner of the 2015 Tour of Utah, is 13 seconds back in 12th place, and defending champion Rob Britton (Canada) of Rally Cycling is in 29th place, 18 seconds down.
The Tour of Utah, Aug. 6-12, will dish out 548 miles of racing and 43,780 feet of elevation gain. The UCI 2.HC-rated stage race began in St. George Monday with 17 professional teams, representing 20 countries.
Stage 1 returns to Cedar City for a fourth time on Tuesday. The 101-mile (162.5 km) 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.
Results and standings
PROLOGUE – Top 10
1. VAN GARDEREN Tejay (USA) BMC RACING TEAM – 0:06:27.490
2. ROSSKOPF Joseph (USA) BMC RACING TEAM – 0:06:31.250
3. BOHLI Tom (SUI) BMC RACING TEAM – 0:06:33.960
4. POWLESS Neilson (USA) TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 0:06:34.420
5. EENKHOORN Pascal (NED) TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO – 0:06:38.170
6. TVETCOV Serghei (ROU) UNITEDHEALTHCARE – 0:06:38.580
7. BROWN Nathan (USA) EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE – 0:06:38.760
8. MCCABE Travis (USA) UNITEDHEALTHCARE – 0:06:39.010
9. HUFFMAN Evan (USA) RALLY CYCLING – 0:06:39.430
10. CLARKE William (AUS) EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE – 0:06:39.590
- Larry H. Miller Group of Companies Overall leader – Tejay van Garderen (USA), BMC Racing Team
- Utah Sports Commission Sprint leader – Joe Rosskopf (USA), BMC Racing Team
- Utah Office of Tourism King of the Mountain – Tom Bohli (SUI), BMC Racing Team
- WCF Insurance Best Young Rider – Neilson Powless (NED), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
- Larry H. Miller Dealerships Most Aggressive Rider – Pascal Eenkhoom (NED), Team LottoNL-Jumbo
- America First Credit Union Fan Favorite – Serghei Tvetcov (ROM), UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team
Content provided by Jackie Tyson, Tour of Utah