'America's Toughest Stage Race' twice as tough this year
Organizers of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah revealed on Tuesday that this year's event, scheduled for August 7-12, will increase the overall distance from 409 miles to 550 miles of racing over six days. New and refreshed courses along the Wasatch Front will provide 37,500 vertical feet of climbing, including a new road race on the final day in Park City via the summit of Empire Pass.
Sanctioned by the UCI as a 2.1-rated stage race, the Tour of Utah has added 33 percent more miles of racing for the athletes, of which many come on the first day in Ogden with a 131.6-mile stage race rather than a short, opening prologue. The Tour will also include 11 intermediate sprint lines and 13 King of the Mountain (KOM) climbs this year. This is an increase from eight sprint lines and five KOM climbs in 2011. This year there is a 25 percent increase in elevation gain for the week, up from 30,000 feet to 37,415 feet of vertical gain.
"'Tough' really is the quintessential word for the Tour of Utah this year," said Steve Miller, president of the Tour of Utah. "The reconfigured course will really test the best cyclists in the world. And it's going to be unbelievably exciting for fans - from the enormous crowds we expect at all the host venues and at all the King of the Mountain climbs, to the worldwide audience we anticipate with live coverage on both FOX Sports Network and Tour Tracker,"
Levi Leipheimer, the two-time defending Tour of Utah champion, expects fine battles between the climbers. "The Tour of Utah is very important for American cycling," said the Omega Pharma-QuickStep rider, whose team has recently accepted an invitation to race to race the event for the first time. "It's billed as 'America's Toughest Stage Race,' and I believe the courses reflect that. We have some very difficult climbs, especially this coming year. There are a couple of new ones that will really shock people.
"The geography in Utah is very unique. I've been all around the world and you just don't find the high mountains, and the desert, and the red rocks, and the aspen trees and the Great Salt Lake. It's all very unique and definitely worth a trip," Leipheimer said.
The 2012 Tour of Utah will begin on Tuesday, August 7 with a 131.6-mile (211km) road race in Ogden. This is the first time since 2008 that the Tour has started with a road race rather than a prologue. There will be a total of four KOM climbs on this opening stage featuring 8,900 feet of elevation gain, including a new climb over Hogback Summit. sprint lines will be located in Morgan and Huntsville. On the return to Ogden, the peloton will crest the infamous Trapper's Loop en route to crossing North Ogden Pass from the back side, a two-mile climb with nine percent average gradient.
Stage two is a first for the Tour of Utah - a team time trial at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele on Wednesday, August 8. It is the fifth consecutive year a "race of truth" will be contested at this road racing facility, which was completed in 2006 for automobiles, motorcycles and karts. This year's route is 13.5 miles (21.75 kilometers) in length, slightly longer than last year's individual race against the clock.
Thursday, August 9 is stage three covering 86.1 miles (138km) from Ogden to Salt Lake City, with 7,134 feet in elevation gain. After climbing North Ogden Pass for a second time in three days, riders will pass Snowbasin Resort, site of various world championship skiing events, and East Canyon State Park, with its scenic reservoir. Additional climbs include the front side of Trapper's Loop and a four-mile ascent of Big Mountain. This is a similar finish used two other times by the Tour of Utah to reach the finish line at University of Utah's Research Park, on the east hillside of downtown Salt Lake City.
The longest day in the saddle for the cyclists will be Friday, August 10, the 135.1-mile (217.4km) stage four from Lehi to Salt Lake City. The route rolls out of the northern part of Utah County and follows a Pony Express route to the west of Utah Lake. The race will follow the new 15-mile Mountain View Corridor roadway (set to open to the public in late 2012). Once in Salt Lake City, the peloton should be racing toward downtown using 400 South, with a final left turn on 300 West to the finish line in front of EnergySolutions Arena.
Saturday, August 10 is the showcase "Queen Stage" of the Tour of Utah. 2012 marks the fifth consecutive year for a slightly-modified 102.6-mile (165-kilometer) climb-fest from Newpark Town Center in Park City to Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. It features four King of the Mountain climbs and a total of 10,000 vertical feet of elevation gain.
The Tour of Utah returns to Park City on Sunday, August 12 for the sixth and final stage marking the first time the race's overall finish has been hosted by Park City. This route features 76.7 miles (123.4km) and close to 6,900 feet of climbing. The route passes through the private Wolf Creek Ranch with its 2.15-mile climb among aspen trees that reaches a maximum pitch of 22 percent. The second KOM is located at Empire Pass, a six-mile climb with sections that surpass a 20-percent gradient that will be used for the first time. A downhill approach into historic Park City should entertain crowds with a blazing finish on lower Main Street in front of the Kimball Arts Center.
2012 Tour of Utah
Stage 1: Tuesday, August 7 - Ogden to Ogden, 131.6 miles (211km)
Stage 2: Wednesday, August 8 - Miller Motorsports Park (team time trial), 13.5 miles (21.75km)
Stage 3: Thursday, August 9 - Ogden to Salt Lake City, 86.1 miles (138km)
Stage 4: Friday, August 10 - Lehi to Salt Lake City, 134 miles (215.6km)
Stage 5: Saturday, August 11 - Park City to Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, 102.6 miles (165km)
Stage 6: Sunday, August 12 - Park City to Park City, 75.41 miles (121.3km)
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