The Tour of Utah has scored one of American cycling's biggest coups, gaining permission to pass through some of the USA's most scenic National Parks, including the Cedar Breaks National Monument, Bryce Canyon National Park and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in its first foray to the southern part of the state.
"Featuring the signature red rock country of southern Utah for the first time, there is tremendous anticipation for this year's race and the new courses. The opportunity to bring our race to these National Parks and National Monuments is unprecedented for professional cycling," said Steve Miller, president of Miller Sports Properties which organizes the Tour of Utah. "Athletically, the Tour of Utah will truly challenge our riders while spectators enjoy the competition against the backdrop of the state's stunning scenery."
Kicking off the UCI 2.1-ranked event on August 6, 2013 will be a 180km stage beginning from the Brian Head ski resort and heading directly into Cedar Breaks National Monument, where riders will climb to 10,800 feet (3291m) before descending to the finish in Cedar City.
A marathon 210km stage will follow, beginning from Panguitch and passing through parts of Bryce Canyon NP and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument on the scenic highway 12, climbing Boulder Mountain before dropping down to the finish in Torrey.
A relatively flat 191km stage from Richfield to Payson, with only Mount Nebo standing in the way of a bunch sprint with 35km to go.
The race then heads back to familiar territory, with a circuit race in the state capitol of Salt Lake City, with a challenging 54.7km circuit similar to that of 2011, where Levi Leipheimer's race lead was threatened by relentless attacks.
The queen stage remains intact, with riders facing 182km from a new start at the Snowbasin Resort, northeast of Ogden, to the traditional summit finish at the Snowbird Resort, incorporating the Guardsman's Pass and Big Cottonwood Canyon for the first time.
Park City will host the race's finale with a 125km stage, short but tough, featuring the 10km climb up Empire Grade which kicks up to 20% in places.
"It makes us proud to host the Tour of Utah - one of the world's premiere professional cycling races. Utah's spectacular and diverse scenery is on the world stage as we host the sport's elite riders right after the Tour de France. Television viewers will get a peek at The Mighty Five™ our five spectacular national parks and will experience our scenic byways that transport visitors through our red rock country. The world will see that some of nature's greatest accomplishments are right here in Utah," said Vicki Varela, managing director of the Utah Office of Tourism.
2013 Tour of Utah stages:
Stage 1: August 6 - Brian Head to Cedar City, 180 km
Stage 2: August 7 - Panguitch to Torrey, 210 km
Stage 3: August 8 - Richfield to Payson, 191 km
Stage 4: August 9 - Salt Lake City (circuit race), 54.7 km
Stage 5: August 10 - Snowbasin Resort to Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, 182 km
Stage 6: August 11 - Park City to Park City, 125 km