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The peloton during Stage 6 of the Tour of Utah
10th anniversary edition coming up in August
The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah will celebrate its 10th anniversary August 4-10 with 1,207 km and 17,637 meters of vertical gain over seven days of racing. The new route, which will feature two mountain top finishes, includes an added day from previous years and will test the 16-team field with 30 percent more climbing and 32 percent more distance.
The race will begin in southern Utah for a second consecutive year and roll north through 12 host cities and venues in Utah and Wyoming. The tour will pass or finish near seven ski resorts, from Brian Head in the south to the new finish at Powder Mountain in the north. At 3279.3 meters above sea level, Bald Mountain Pass on Stage 5 will be the highest point ever crossed by a Tour of Utah peloton.
Some familiar favorites are back as well, as riders will tackle the daunting climb to Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort on stage 6 and the Empire Pass climb outside of Park City on the final day.
"I'd say Empire Pass is probably my favorite climb in the entire world," said 2013 winner Tom Danielson (Garmin-Sharp), who took the overall lead away from Chris Horner (Lampre-Merida) on the climb up Empire Pass last year. "It's really, really steep, so you are using arms, and that takes a lot of oxygen out of your body that you have to use for your legs. So it really puts a strain on your lungs and makes it a unique climb."
Host venues for 2014 are Cedar City, Panguitch, Torrey, Lehi, Miller Motorsports Park, Ogden, Powder Mountain, Evanston (Wyoming), Kamas, Salt Lake City, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort and Park City.
The racing will start Monday, August 4, with a 181.6km course that starts and ends in Cedar City. Riders will start in the flat lands of the western desert before hitting the climb up Parowan Canyon to Brian Head, the home of Utah's highest-elevation ski resort. After cresting the second KOM of the day on Cedar Canyon Highway, the race will descend nearly 1219.2 meters through Cedar Canyon back into Cedar City, where they will navigate three finishing circuits.
Amazing views and rugged challenges along Scenic Byway 12 return this year as part of the 209.12km stage 2 route from Panguitch to Torrey. The race first heads north through Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the Dixie National Forest. Racers will encounter 3097.3 meters of climbing during the longest stage of the week. After cresting the fourth KOM of the day at Boulder Mountain, the peloton will streak 32km along the shadow of Capital Reef National Park for a sprint finish on Main Street in Torrey.
For stage 3, the race returns to its roots in Lehi and Utah County, where the first edition started 10 years ago near the Thanksgiving Point Museum and Gardens. The 189.3 km route heads south along the western shores of Utah Lake before winding into the East Tintic Mountains for the day's only KOM. The race descends into the west desert on the way to the finish at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, where riders will make three circuits along the twists and turns of the 3.5km racetrack.
The Tour of Utah returns to Ogden for a sixth time for the start of Stage 4. The 167.5km route travels through the Ogden Valley toward the North Ogden Divide for the first of two ascents. The first of three KOMs will be on the slopes of the North Ogden Divide, a tough 5km climb with an average gradient of 10 percent. The race circumnavigates Pineview Reservoir as it passes under the ski slopes of Snowbasin and Wolf Mountain, then descends Ogden Canyon for another trip though the city of Ogden and a second climb up North Ogden Divide. The first big shakeup in the General Classification could happen on the slopes of the first mountaintop finish of the week at Powder Mountain, one of the toughest climbs in Utah. This new addition to the race ascends more than 914 meters in just 9.6km.
Stage 5 will mark the first time the race extends beyond Utah's borders, traveling to Evanston, Wyoming, for the start of the 162.2km route. Heading south on Mirror Lake Highway, the peloton can expect to confront strong Wyoming prairie winds before beginning the long climb to the lone KOM of the day at Bald Mountain Pass, which at 3279.3 meters is the highest point the race has ever reached. The route continues with a 48km descent into the Kamas valley. Spectators will see the peloton twice in Kamas, as the race will pass through downtown for a circuit through Oakley and Peoa before returning to the finish. The riders will navigate a 3.2k stretch pf dirt road in Peoa less than 16km from the finish.
The "Queen Stage" on day 6 not only covers new territory and adds more climbing to the 171.5km route that starts in salt Lake City and ends at Snowbird. Close to 4,000 meters of elevation gain and four KOMs will make Stage 6 a true challenge. More than 2,133 meters of climbing will take place in the final 56km. But the start is no cakewalk, either, as riders will begin climbing almost immediately with the gradual ascent up Emigration Canyon, followed by the tougher climb on Big Mountain. The race will travel through rural Morgan and Summit counties before reaching the resort town of Park City and making the arduous ascent over Guardsman Pass, with an 11-percent gradient. Following a 22.4km descent through Big Cottonwood Canyon, the route concludes with the 10km climb into Little Cottonwood Canyon for the finish at Snowbird.
For a fourth time, the race will return to Park City for the grand finale. This 124.8km stage will roll out of Park City into rural farmlands before reaching Wolf Creek Ranch, where riders will face a short-but-punishing climb with pitches of close to 20 percent. The race will continue through the towns of Heber City and Midway before the race reaches the toughest challenge of the entire seven-day event, the climb up Empire Pass. A long-technical descent back to the finish in Park City follows.
"The Tour of Utah will achieve multiple first-time superlatives in the 10th edition of the race," said Steve Miller, president of Miller Sports Properties, which organizes the tour. "We will surpass the milestones of [1,200km] and [17,353 meters] of climbing. We have expanded the route beyond Utah's borders. However, the iconic red rock scenery, national forests and mountain passes remain as the foundation of an awe-inspiring course for our spectators and cyclists to experience."
Also new this year will be the inaugural Tour of Utah Women's Edition taking place Wednesday at Miller Motorsports Park from noon to 2 p.m. The Chase Pinkham Memorial Criterium for amateur men, women and juniors will take place the same day from 5 to 8:30 p.m. at the motorsports park.