"A three-peat is a big call," he said before the race. "It would be nice, don't get me wrong, and it seems like I'm getting better every tour, but like a diesel."
His form may be a little better than he thinks, if his 2nd place finish yesterday afternoon in the 2.5-mile uphill prologue of Joe Martin is any indication. And it was a close second, in fact by just over a second, to Ben Jacques-Maynes (Bissell). Sutherland powered his Kuota up the course in a time of 9:42.03.
OUCH Presented by Maxxis had a strong showing overall in the prologue, placing five riders in the top 18, none more than 30 seconds behind Jacques-Maynes, and two more riders within 42 seconds.
"It gives us a lot of options," team directeur sportif Mike Tamayo said. "We intend to make Bissell's life difficult."
With plenty of time bonuses out on the road and at stage finishes, Sutherland will have a number of opportunities to take over the race lead. He can start today, with a hilly 179km road race that offers a 15-second time bonus to the winner. Sutherland took 2nd on this stage - and a 10-second time bonus - last year to extend the lead he earned in the prologue.