Utah Olympic Park Hosts First Day of Professional Cycling Stage Race
PARK CITY, UTAH - Colombian Sergio Henao of Gobernacion Indeportes Antioquia was the fastest man at Utah Olympic Park with a time of 4:04 minutes in today's Prologue presented by KJZZ TV and 1320 KFAN at the 2011 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Climbing to 7,275 feet of elevation on the 1.3-miles (2.1kilometer) course adjacent to the world-class bobsled track, Henao bested 117 other riders in the first day of the six-day professional cycling event. He will wear the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Leader's jersey on Wednesday.
Filling the podium were two Spanish climbers, Francisco Mancebo of RealCyclist.com two seconds back in second place and Oscar Sevilla of Gobernacion Indeportes Antioquia five seconds off the winning pace in third. American Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad), who turns 23 on Friday, took top honors as the Subaru Best Young Rider jersey. American Tyler Wren, who lives in Salt Lake City, was awarded the Miller Lite Best Utah Rider.
Reflecting on his first win in the U.S. and the competitive field for the race, Henao said through a translator, "It was a difficult but we have to live day by day [in the tour]. It was a big surprise not just to me, but to everyone that we won today. All the stages are difficult, but the team is very strong. We will try to stick together. Our goal is to control other teams to make sure no one else has the advantage."
The Utah Olympic Park, which hosted the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, is renowned for holding some of the fastest downhill events. But this year, the Tour of Utah became the first-ever professional uphill event at the Park.
The August 9-14 event, referred to as "America's Toughest Stage Race™", is now a UCI 2.1-sanctioned stage event. Many riders noted at the race the elevated status of the event has generated a stronger field of competitors.
"This year is more difficult because there are more strong teams in the race. We have to be in the best shape to compete, especially in the last stages. The experience of the riders competing is a lot more difficult," said runner-up Mancebo, who won the 2009 Tour of Utah.
Tomorrow's Stage One presented by Miller Lite will be a new 116-mile (187-kilometer) course with a start and finish line in downtown Ogden on Historic 25th Street near the Ogden Amphitheater. Pro cyclists will encounter 8,250 feet of climbing, navigating a 38.5-mile course three times. This includes multiple climbs over the challenging North Ogden Pass, traveling past Pineview Reservoir and returning to Ogden through Ogden Canyon. This makes it a great day for spectators to see the peloton pass numerous times. It is the first time Ogden will host a start and finish for the Tour of Utah. A climbing stage with a flat finish, it will begin at 11 a.m. in Ogden and is expected to finish between 3:45-4:30 p.m.
All race results are available online (www.tourofutah.com).