The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah will return to the southern part of the state in 2018, starting in St. George with a prologue time trial before heading north for the conclusion six days later in Park City, which returns after a one-year hiatus.
St. George and Park City are two of nine host venues organisers announced Wednesday, along with Cedar City, Payson City, Antelope Island State Park, Layton City, Salt Lake City, Canyons Village and Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. Route details for each of the stages will be released later this year.
The 2.HC race is scheduled for August 6-12, a week later than its traditional dates, allowing for a full week of travel after the Tour de France for WorldTour teams. Only one WorldTour team competed in the race last year, but organisers say they have already attracted early season pledges to participate this year from BMC Racing, Trek-Segafredo, Mitchelton-Scott and EF Education First-Drapac.
"The 2018 race will captivate fans across the state, showcase the beauty of Utah and demonstrate the diversity of our communities and terrain," said John Kimball, the race's managing director. "With an initial commitment from four WorldTour teams, we look forward to hosting a world-class peloton in Utah."
Now in its 14th year, the UCI 2.HC UCI America Tour race expects a field of more than 120 riders representing 16 or more teams for seven gruelling days of racing at altitudes that often reach beyond 3,000 metres.
Located near the tri-state junction of Utah, Arizona and Nevada, St. George marks the southernmost start yet for the race, which will take off amid the area's famous red rock formations.
Cedar City, a four-time Tour of Utah venue, will host stage 1 and serve as the race headquarters for the overall start festivities around Southern Utah University. Past stages that have started in Cedar City featured multiple fast finishing laps in town after a route that took riders along a high-elevation jaunt through the Dixie National Forest and Cedar Breaks National Monument.
The race travels to Payson City for stage 2 on August 8. The classic western town sits at the foot of Mount Nebo, the highest mountain in the Wasatch Range of Utah. This third-time host city provides plenty of potential for a day of climbing through the Wasatch.
Stage 3 sees the race return to Antelope Island, which has hosted two previous stage starts. From the largest island in the great Salt Lake, the race will travel to Layton City, which hosted a start in the 2017 race and provides the finish line this year on August 9.
Salt Lake City will return again to host stage 4. This year will mark the Utah capitol city's 11th appearance in the race, most recently featuring a lively downtown circuit race with multiple possible finishes.
The Queen stage on Saturday, August 11, will once again finish with the climb up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, although this year's iteration will start for the first time at the Canyons Village Resort in Park City.
The 2018 race concludes in Park City, the ski and resort town that traditionally hosted the final stage that featured the climb up and over Empire Pass. The race took a hiatus from Park City last year because of scheduling conflicts, but it returns again this year. Hopefully that means a return to Empire Pass as well.
Race organisers said details about each stage – including race mileage, routes, formats, elevation gain, start-finish times and spectator activities – will be announced in the late spring.
Canadian Rob Britton of Rally Cycling captured the overall general classification victory at the 2017 Tour of Utah, which featured 974km of racing and more than 10,828 vertical metres of climbing.
2018 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah host venues:
Prologue - Monday, August 6 - St. George
Stage 1 - Tuesday, August 7 - Cedar City
Stage 2 - Wednesday, August 8 - Payson City
Stage 3 - Thursday, August 9 - Antelope Island State Park to Layton City
Stage 4 - Friday, August 10 - Salt Lake City
Stage 5 - Saturday, August 11 - Canyons Village to Snowbird Resort
Stage 6 - Sunday, August 12 - Park City
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Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Pat competed in his first bike race in 1985 at Flathead Lake. He studied English and journalism at the University of Oregon and has covered North American cycling extensively since 2009, as well as racing and teams in Europe and South America. Pat currently lives in the US outside of Portland, Oregon, with his imaginary dog Rusty.