Altitude gets the better of BMC in Tour of Utah time trial

Bookwalter drops to sixth on GC following Big Cottonwood Canyon test

Explaining on the eve of the Tour of Utah stage 3 time trial, Brent Bookwalter said the 9km uphill test is "just pure physical and pure suffering." The words of the BMC rider proved to be true with the stage providing the first shake up of the general classification.

Starting the day second overall after his stage 2 win, Bookwalter slipped to sixth after placing 11th and 46 seconds down on stage winner Rob Britton. The 33-year-old averaged just under one kilometre per hour slower than Britton on the course as he explained it felt like he was riding in 'slow motion'.

"It was probably as I expected out there today. It was basically a 20-minute power test at high altitude," Bookwalter said. "I think to do well today you really had to be well-adapted and have done some real specific threshold work up at altitude. So with that in mind, knowing that's not what I had done coming in, I just tried to give it my best and tried to ride on my limit the whole time.

"I couldn't really do much more than that. There were no corners, no spots to let off, no tactics, just riding steady the whole time. It was kind of like slow motion the whole time. You could see the road ahead of you the whole time and the gradient was definitely deceiving with the road being so wide. It definitely felt like the tires were stuck to the road."

With several road stages to come, Bookwalter isn't giving up on his GC aspirations after showing his form in the Snowbasin finish.

"I hope to shake things up in the next four days. In some ways it's a nice position to be in," Bookwalter added. "Generally, our team is always being looked at in a race like this, always forced to control. Now, we don't have anything to lose or protect so I think we can relish the chance to get back to good old school hard racing and enjoy that and try to shake things up in the process."

As the second placed rider at the start of the stage, Bookwalter was the penultimate rider to start. When he rolled out of the start house, Us time trial champion Joey Rosskopf was exiting the hot seat after Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly-Maxxis) knocked him off. Gavin Mannion (UnitedHealthcare) bumped Rosskopf into third before Britton came through to ensure Rosskopf's final position of fourth place.

The result was Rosskopf's first since he won the stars 'n' stripes jersey and just his third TT of the season. The 27-year-old explained he tried to pace his run to the best as best as possible but couldn't help be disappointed to have just missed third place.

“It felt better than I expected. It was always going to be hard to pace with the high altitude. The whole thing started at 2200m and went up from there which is an unusual effort to have to pace," Rosskopf said. "I'm kind of bummed to miss the podium by a quarter of a second. I went out conservatively as the second half was harder I think and there was more time to be made or lost there than in the beginning.

"It was a little bit more of a stair step climb in the first few kilometres and after the time check it was the most sustained steep part. I wanted to wait for that to make sure I could get over it with a decent pace. It was really cool to wear the US National Time Trial skinsuit for the first time. I had a lot of comments and it was really exciting to wear it. ASSOS did a great job with the design."

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