Francisco Mancebo (Canyon Bicycles) is targeting a second consecutive overall title at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. The Spaniard proved to be on good form having recently won the 10-day Tour de Guadeloupe last weekend, but is unsure of whether he’ll be able to tack back-to-back stage race victories.
“I just finished the Tour of Guadeloupe and I won that race, so I think I'm feeling good,” Mancebo told Cyclingnews. “It was not at altitude but rather right on the ocean. The race was very difficult and different in style with attacking happening almost the whole time. I finished that race on Sunday and traveled on Monday to Utah and started racing the Tour of Utah on Tuesday at the prologue.”
Mancebo placed 13th in the Salt Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau prologue located at the Utah State Capitol. He rode the 4.48 kms course in a time of 6:21, 19 seconds slower than stage winner Taylor Phinney (Trek-Livestrong)
“I felt, more or less, OK for the prologue in Utah,” Mancebo said. “I would like to win this race again but it will be very difficult, so it is more realistic for me to think about trying to get a podium. I would be happy with that.”
The Tour of Utah offers some of the toughest stages in the US, passing the Rocky Mountain's Wasatch Range surrounding Salt Lake City. It challenges the peloton to 480 kilometres and more than 30,000 feet of high-altitude climbing, including two mountaintop finishes, over a period of six days.
This year's event brought the return of Jeff Louder and Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team), along with their teammate US Professional Road Champion George Hincapie. New to the race this year is three-time Tour of California winner Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) who is competing under the Mellow Johnny's banner. Other notable contenders include Marc de Maar and Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare-Maxxis), Darren Lill (Fly V Australia), Burke Swindlehurst (KFAN Composite-Teamgive) and Jeremy Vennell (Bissell).
“I will have to race day by day, because there are a lot of strong riders here,” Mancebo said. “As always, the riders here that I feel like I need to watch are Darren Lill, Jeff Louder, Chris Baldwin. It is always the same as last year.
“I think Fly V Australia is the favorite team here and I think Lill is very strong,” he added.
Mancebo last competed in the USA for the controversial and now disbanded Rock Racing team, which was based in Los Angeles in 2009. He spent most of his career as a Grand Tour contender, placing sixth in the Tour de France in 2004 and fourth in the 2005 Tour. He is currently competing for a Utah-based amateur team Canyon Bicycles at the Tour of Utah.
“I'm back here racing this race in the US because I won it last year and I really like the stages,” Mancebo said. “The organisation gave me the opportunity to come back to race it again. So, I am just in the US for one week for this race.”