Levi Leipheimer will return to the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah August 7-12 to defend his 2010 and 2011 titles against an international field that includes recent team USA Olympians Chris Horner, Tyler Farrar and Timothy Duggan. Organizers Wednesday confirmed rosters for the 17 teams that will start UCI 2.1 stage race, which will host 131 riders from 23 countries for six days of racing in the Wasatch Range of the Rocky Mountains.
UCI Pro Teams
Leipheimer will lead the six-rider Omega Pharma-QuickStep team in its first-ever appearance at the Tour of Utah. Slovakian twin brothers Martin and Peter Velits will be part of the Belgian squad's attempt to lift Leipheimer to the top of the podium for a third time in as many tries. Ireland's Matthew Brammeier, Belgium's Jeroen Hoorne and Italian Francesco Chicchi will also be on hand for the defense.
Horner will lead an eight-rider Radioshack-Nissan team of experienced Europeans, including Jens Voigt, Joost Posthuma, Oliver Zaugg and Thomas Rohregger, along with young Americans Ben King, Matthew Busche and George Bennett. Garmin-Barracuda's Nathan Haas and Jacob Rathe will likely work with Farrar and seven-time US national time trial champion David Zabriske to supply the team's power over the flats and during the stage 2 team time trial, while Chipotle Development Team rider Lachlan Morton will race alongside Peter Stetina to help leaders Christian Vande Velde and Tom Danielson in the mountains.
BMC appears to be holding back its big guns for Colorado's USA Pro Cycling Challenge, a seven-day UCI 2.HC event at the end of the month, leaving American stars George Hincapie and Tejay van Garderen, fifth at the 2012 Tour de France, off the roster along with 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans. Instead, Brent Bookwalter, who was second in the individual time trial at the 2010 Giro d’Italia, will join fellow American Larry Warbasse, Italian Ivan Santaromita and Swiss riders Mathias Fleckiger, Johan Tschopp and Michael Schar for the team's fourth Utah appearance.
Newly crowned US national road race champion and 2012 Olympian Timmy Duggan, who finished ninth overall in Utah last year, will lead a six-rider Liquigas-Cannondale team to its second appearance in Utah. Fellow American Ted King will join Duggan on the squad, along with Italians Valerio Agnoli, who wore the white jersey as the best young rider during the 2010 Giro d'Italia, Marco Benfatto and Paolo Longo Borghini.
The Rabobank Cycling Team will bring seven Dutch riders for its Tour of Utah debut, including 21-year-old Wilco Kelderman, who won the Best Young Rider classification at the 2012 Tour of California and was eighth overall at the Critérium du Dauphiné. Countrymen Jetse Bol, Steven Kruijswijk, Thomas Leezer, Tom Jelte Slagter, Dennis van Winden and Marc Goos will join Kelderman for the trip. The team will also feature Australian sprinter Michael Matthews, who won the UCI Under-23 World Road Race Championship in 2010.
UCI Pro Continental Teams
UnitedHealthcare leads the contingent of Pro Continental teams at the 2012 race, making its fifth-consecutive appearance in Utah. The second-year Pro Continental team features 2008 overall winner Jeff Louder and is led by Australian Rory Sutherland. Former Pro Team riders Craig Lewis and Chris Butler will lead the Chinese-based Champion System squad, while David Boily, who wore the mountains jersey for several stages during the 2012 Tour of California, will lead the Canadian Spidertech-C10 team in its second appearance.
Team Argos-Shimano of the Netherlands will make its first appearance at the Tour of Utah. German Patrick Gretsch, a 2011 Tour of Utah veteran, will lead the Dutch squad. Gretsch has several top-10 Grand Tour stage finishes to his name, including a seventh-place finish in the 2012 Tour de France prologue. Team NetApp of Germany is another newcomer for the Utah race. The second-year Pro Continental squad made its first Grand Tour appearance earlier this year at the Giro d’Italia.
UCI Continental Teams
Tour of Utah 2009 overall winner Francisco Mancebo, the last rider to win in Utah before Leipheimer started his streak, will return to the race with his National Race Calendar-leading Competitive Cyclist squad. Ian Boswell, third overall the last time he raced in Utah in 2010, will lead the Bontrager-Livestrong team in its first appearance here after UCI rules barred the development team from participating with its former Pro Team parent squad last year.
Bissell Pro Cycling will make its fifth-consecutive appearance at Utah, this year led by Chris Baldwin and Tour of California Most Aggressive Rider Jeremy Vennell. Jesse Anthony, last year's stage 1 winner, will highlight the Optum Pro Cycling-Kelly Benefit Strategies team that is making its fourth-consecutive appearance in Utah. Team Exergy, led by Giro d’Italia stage winner and 2000 US Olympian Freddie Rodriguez, will make its Tour of Utah debut in 2012. The team will also feature Tour de Beauce stage winner Matt Cooke. Colombia's EPM-UNE, another newcomer to Utah, will round out the field of Continental teams. EPM-UNE finished as the top team on the UCI America Tour last year and is currently seventh on the 2012 UCI America Tour.
The Tour of Utah starts Tuesday, Aug. 7, with a 211 km road race that starts and finishes in Ogden. It continues the next day at the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele with the 21.75 km team time trial, the first such event at a UCI-rated race in the United States since the Tour de Georgia in 2008. The 137.6 km stage 3 trek from Ogden to Salt Lake City on Thursday, Aug. 9, resumes the road racing. Stage 4 takes the riders 216 km from Lehi to Salt Lake City, while Saturday's Queen Stage from Park City to Snowbird features 3,048 meters of climbing over 162 km. The race ends Sunday, August 12, with the 123 km stage 6 blast around Park City.
Over the six days of competition, riders will tackle 837.75 km with more than 11,400 meters of climbing.