US-based Continental outfit Jamis-Sutter Home's recent overall victory at the UCI 2.2 Tour of Elk Grove is a good indication that it is primed for the upcoming UCI 2.1 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah held from August 9-14 in Salt Lake City. According to directeur sportif Sebastian Alexandre, the team will have several cards to play when it comes to placing well during individual stages and in the overall classification.
"We were really happy with the win at Tour of Elk Grove, it is good for us heading into the Tour of Utah," Alexandre said. "I'm really happy with the team that we have and the way that our riders are riding, not only Luis Amaran. I have four riders that were staying at altitude before the Tour of Utah with Tyler Wren, Jamie Driscoll, Nick Frey and Andy Guptill."
The team will be lead by Tour of Elk Grove winner Luis Amaran, who placed second out of a breakaway in stage two and moved into the leader's jersey.With the help of his teammates, he maintained that lead through a tactical battle for time bonuses during stage three finale.
The flat parcours of the Tour of Elk Grove is vastly different in comparison to the high-altitude and mountainous terrain that makes the Tour of Utah one of the toughest stages races in the nation. According to Alexandre, Amaran is not in top climbing form and will not be the team's go-to GC rider during the upcoming six-day event.
"Luis just won Elk Grove but he is not climbing good enough to be GC guy at Utah," Alexandre said. "He will be a good rider for stage wins because he is very strong right now, but he is not climbing as good as he was last year."
The team will look to Utah resident Wren for the overall classification. Wren has had strong performances on the domestic calendar during several mountainous stage races such as the San Dimas Stage Race and Tour of the Gila. He, along with Driscoll, recently placed top 10 in the overall classification at the Tour do Rio held in Brazil last month.
The Tour of Utah's upgrade to UCI 2.1 status allowed race organizers to invite ProTeam and Professional Continental teams. The higher quality field could pose as a challenge for Wren when it comes to competing against some of top climbers in the world, several who have arrive straight from the Tour de France such as Tom Danielson and Christian Vande Velde (Garmin-Cervelo) and Tejay Van Garderen (HTC-Highroad), among others.
"Tyler and Jamie are climbing very well," Alexandre said. "I have faith in Tyler that he will do a very good job for our team at the Tour of Utah. He lives in Salt Lake City, he knows all the courses and he is very motivated for the race. I have a lot of faith in him. I don't know if he will be able to climb with the riders who are coming from the Tour, but he is going to try. I think he will be up there in the GC."
Tom Zirbel is expected to put forth a strong performance in the stage three time trial held at the Miller Motorsports Park. He won it on two previous occasions in 2008 and 2009. He was expected to post a strong time trial performance at this year's Amgen Tour of California however, an untimely mechanical took him out of contention.
He went on the place second at the US Pro National Time Trial Championships, behind winner Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Cervelo), second in the time trial at the Cascade Cycling Classic to winner Francisco Mancebo (RealCyclist.com) and second at the Tour of Elk Grove time trial to winner Karl Menzies (UnitedHealthcare).
"Tom is time trialing very well and will have a great opportunity for a stage win during the time trial at Utah," Alexandre said. "I think he will be very good on that course. He is pretty hungry and he wants a win. The Utah time trial is a great course for him and I am very confident that could be the win that he is expecting."