Jesse Anthony (Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth) was forced too pull out of the Tour of Utah prior to the start of the stage four circuit race in Salt Lake City due to a flu virus. The New England native was sitting in fifth place overall after winning the stage one breakaway sprint in Ogden.
"I think it was really hard for Jesse to have to pull out of the race," said Kelly Benefit Strategies-OptumHealth DS Jonas Carney. "He was sitting in fifth place overall and our major goal for the week was to try and have him finish in the top ten."
"We felt like that was a realistic goal was for him to be top ten and that would have been a really good finish overall for him and for the team at a stage race like this," he said. "He was naturally really bummed to have to pull out. But, the fact is, he won the biggest race of his career a couple of days ago and possible the biggest race that our team has ever won."
Anthony put forth a strong performance during stage one when he bridged across to an early breakaway and made it over the final climb solo. A lead group of climbers that included the current race leader Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack), his teammate Janez Brajkovic along with Oscar Sevilla and Sergio Henao (Gobernacion de Antioquia) caught him on the descent down to the finish line. He out-paced the four climbers in the sprint to the line.
Anthony started the stage two’s predominantly flat road race from Lehi to Provo, however, he started to feel ill part way through the event.
According to Carney, the team initially thought his physical illness was partially due to warm temperatures and dehydration.
"He had fever and chills, so we had him rest, stay hydrated and hoped he would feel better," Carney said. "He got worse during stage three, he toughed it out during the time trial and rode a reasonable time even though he felt sick. This morning he had a really hard time getting out of bed. He has the full on flu, a high fever and chest cough, the whole deal."
Anthony entered the Tour of Utah in top form having won the overall title at the Nature Valley Grand Prix earlier this summer. He will next race at the USA Pro Criterium Championships, followed by a stint in Europe, before returning Stateside for the Univest Grand Prix.
"I told him that he should go home feeling good about this race, not bad about it," Carney said. "He was disappointed that he could not go for an overall placing, but he needs to remember that he needs to remember that he won the biggest race of his career a couple of days ago."