Costa continues to impress with Tour of Utah performance

18-year-old American will stagiaire with Etixx-QuickStep later this summer

Adrien Costa (Axeon Hagens Berman) is continuing tot build his reputation as a huge talent this week at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. The 18-year-old, who turns 19 later this month, finished second Wednesday during the difficult stage over Mt. Nebo.

Costa finished behind Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly-Maxxis) and ahead of Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac) after the trio escaped on the lower slopes of the climb. Costa helped power the move over the nearly 3,000 metres ascent and then beat Talansky to the line after Morton successfully attacked inside the final two kilometres.

"Honestly, I wasn't expecting to be climbing with these guys," he said on the press conference dais, where he sat next to Morton and Talansky. "I think that kind of helps, though, because you get pretty excited and the suffering kind of eases a little bit. It was really fun. I might have done too much work at the beginning because at the end I suffered a little bit."

This week's 2.HC race in Utah is the highest ranked event Costa has ridden, and he's trying to soak up as much experience as he can while racing against the WorldTour and Pro Continental competition.

"I really am learning and hopefully getting stronger," he said. "It's amazing to have the opportunity to race at this level."

Costa is currently second overall, seven seconds behind Morton and two seconds ahead of Talansky. BMC Racing's Darwin Atapuma is fourth, 1:32 down. Despite his current runner-up spot in the general classification, however, Costa played down his chances to be on the podium when the race finishes in Park City.

"For the rest of this race it's along the same lines; not too much pressure on us," he said. "This stage result is good for the team, but I think we have a really, really good team full of good climbers who can defend. So we'll have to see. [Talansky and Morton] have the experience and the endurance in these races.

"You know, being 19 years old I could get super tired and have a really bad weekend. I'll just take it day by day and see what happens."

No matter what happens over the rest of the week, Costa has already surpassed his own expectations and those of his team.

"I came here with no real GC expectations, just racing, having fun and helping the team. Today went extremely, extremely well for me, personally. So we'll see how the rest of the week goes," Costa said.

"Then again, as a 19-year-old, a result on this stage is already enough, so there's no pressure for us. It's up to the guys who are 35 and need to make a living, right? We're just here having fun, so super stoked."

Costa is also "super stoked" about his plans for the rest of the summer, when he will stagiaire with Etixx-QuickStep after racing the Tour de l’Avenir.

The Belgian super team was clearly paying attention as Costa won a stage and the overall at the Tour de Bretagne, finished fifth at le Triptyque, was seventh at the Tour of Flanders espoirs, finished fourth in the ZLM-Roompot Tour, was third overall and took the mountains jersey at Rhône-Alpes Isère Tour, and won the individual time trial at Tour de Savoie Mont Blanc.

"I go straight to Europe for [Tour de l'Avenir] with the national team after this, and then I get to race with those guys," he said. "I've got a good summer of racing coming up.

"I'll just be just be helping the guys and seeing how they race, seeing the inside of a WorldTour team and getting exposure to that level of racing with no pressure, really, and just keep having fun."

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