Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) is hoping that his Tour de France form continues into the upcoming Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah held from August 9-14 around Salt Lake City. However, the focus will not be on him for the high-altitude, six-day event, but on his teammate and former overall winner Jeff Louder.
"It's in a tough spot on the calendar as far as filling out the roster, post-Tour, two days after the Tour of Poland, during the Eneco Tour and right before the Vuelta a Espana," Bookwalter said. "Honestly I've been a little disconnected since the Tour so I'm not up to speed on the details of everyone's form as far as the team is concerned.
"I know the race means a lot to Jeff Louder. He's proven he can deliver at this race and has had some good rest since his last race so I'm sure he's gonna be motivated and a good guy for us to rally behind. As far as me, I'm waiting until the start line to get too amped up, but hopefully it will be a good 'back to racing' after the Tour."
Bookwalter has had success at the Tour of Utah, winning the prologue and placing fifth overall in 2009. However the event is now in its sixth edition and upgraded to a UCI 2.1 ranking with the sport's governing body and is now permitted to invite ProTeams, Pro Continental teams and Continental teams.
"Utah has been a nice race to me in the past, but with the upgrade to a UCI 2.1 and a much stronger field than in years past, it's gonna be a much different and more demanding race this year," Bookwalter said.
The Tour of Utah peloton will include other Tour de France participants including George Hincapie (BMC Racing), Tejay Van Garderen and Danny Pate (HTC-Highroad), Tom Danielson, Ryder Hesjedal and Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervelo) and Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack). Like many of the Tour contenders, Bookwalter is unsure of how he has recovered from the targeted three-week event that saw his teammate Cadel Evans win the overall title.
"I hope I feel amazing but it's hard to tell after the Grand Tours," Bookwalter said. "This year's Tour was only my third so I don't have a predictable template of how I come out of them and what I can expect. I think the only guarantee is that I'll be gasping for some of that thin, Wasatch air. I'm sure that prologue will blow out more than a few cobwebs.
"It's been a very full two weeks since the Tour," he said. "I went back to Girona for a few days and tried to rest while re-settling there, then came back to the States a week ago. I carried some sort of upper respiratory funk out of the Tour so I have been trying to rest and get that to clear up. All while trying to get my life re-situated after neglecting it for a month. But, with the pre-Tour build and three weeks of racing, it's been great to be home."
The US gained two additional UCI 2.1 level events on its calendar this year with both Tour of Utah and the USA Pro Cycling Challenge held from August 22-28 in Colorado. After spending the majority of the season overseas, Bookwalter is happy to be home and will line up with his BMC Racing team at both events.
"I'm extremely excited about the chance to spend August racing in the USA," Bookwalter said. "I'm very proud to be an American competing in this sport. I think the USA continues to have a greater and greater presence on the international scene, so it makes a lot of sense that the USA gets two more quality races like Utah and Colorado. It's nice to make the Euro guys come to us a few times a year."