Tour of California fourth-place rider Brent Bookwalter and BMC Racing teammate Joey Rosskopf, who was fifth in the final time trial at the Giro d'Italia in May, will headline the 2017 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah field when the seven-day UCI 2.HC race rolls out of Logan on July 31.
BMC Racing, the only WorldTour team at the Tour of Utah this year, will also feature Tom Bohli, Silvan Dillier, Martin Emiger, Killian Frankiny, Manuel Senni and stagiaire Patrick Müller, according to a provisional roster released Wednesday.
Bookwalter, who finished third in 2015 behind Joe Dombroswki and Michael Woods, wasn't in Utah last year, but with 2016 champion Lachlan Morton moving to the WorldTour with Dimension Data and 2016 runner-up Adrien Costa (Axeon Hagens Berman) taking a break from cycling, Bookwalter comes into the race as a top favourite for the overall win.
Rally Cycling's Rob Britton is the top 2016 finisher in this year's race. The Canadian finished fifth last year and is in the midst of a stellar season, infiltrating two successful breakaways at the Tour of California in May and helping teammate Evan Huffman win two stages at the WorldTour race. Britton also took the mountains jersey at the Tour of the Gila and won the notoriously difficult final stage at the Tour de Beauce.
Rosskopf finished sixth in Utah last year ahead of then-teammate TJ Eisenhart, the Utah native who will be at the race with Holowesko-Citadel this year. The only other rider from last year's top 10 returning to this year's race is Rob Squire, who finished ninth last year with Holowesko. Squire will return with Hangar 15 this year alongside teammate Francisco Mancebo, who won a stage in 2013 and took the overall in 2009 before the race was a UCI event.
"My favorite part of Tour of Utah is getting to race in front of my friends and family," said Squire, who lives in Salt Lake City. "Watching on TV is one thing, which is cool in its own right, but witnessing the race in person is totally different. Mountains look big on TV, but when my friends drive up Little Cottonwood, they can really appreciate the feat of racing up it."
While Little Cottonwood Canyon will take riders to the finish of the Queen Stage and Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, Big Cottonwood Canyon will host the uphill stage 3 time trial, where Rosskopf will wear his newly won national champion's jersey.
"I'm not necessarily excited that the time trial is a hill climb, but nonetheless it's really exciting to debut the jersey here in the US when so much of my time is spent elsewhere," Rosskopf said. "And hopefully the jersey will add an extra level of strength and motivation to drag my big bod up Big Cottonwood."
Although BMC appears to have the strongest roster, the US team will face international competition from hungry Pro Continental teams including Italy's Bardiani CSF and Nippo-Vini Fantini, Caja Rural-Seguros RGA from Spain, Israel Cycling Academy, and US teams Novo Nordisk and UnitedHealthcare.
Holowesko-Citadel currently leads the UCI America Tour team standings, with 2016 Tour of Utah stage winner Robin Carpenter atop the individual America Tour rankings. Rally Cycling, having won two stages at the Tour of California, will bring sprinter Eric Young, climber Sepp Kuss and all-rounder Colin Joyce on the roster.
Jelly Belly doesn't have 2016 champion Morton any longer, but Serghei Tvetcov, who was second at Tour of the Gila, has filled in. Likewise, Axeon Hagens Berman won't have 2016 runner-up Costa, but U23 road race champ Nielsen Powless is a capable leader along with 2015 Utah stage winner Logan Owen and British rider Chris Lawless.
Cylance Cycling is led by the 2014 US road race champion Eric Marcotte, and Albanian-based Amore&Vita features Italian Pierpaolo Ficara, who has three of the team's five wins this year.
Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling will make its inaugural appearance to the Tour of Utah. The team will be led by Canadian James Piccoli, who finished second in the King of the Mountains competition at the four-day Grand Prix Cycliste de Saguenay in his home country.
Tour of Utah 2017 teams:
Amore & Vita - Selle SMP presented by Fondriest (Albania)
Axeon Hagens Berman Cycling Team (USA)
Bardiani CSF (Italy)
BMC Racing Team (USA)
Caja Rural-Seguros RGA (Spain)
Cylance Cycling (USA)
Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling (USA)
Hangar 15 Bicycles (USA)
Holowesko l Citadel Racing Team p/b Hincapie Sportswear (USA)
Israel Cycling Academy (Israel)
Jelly Belly Cycling p/b Maxxis (USA)
Nippo-Vini Fantini (Italy)
Team Novo Nordisk (USA)
Rally Cycling (USA)
Silber Pro Cycling (Canada)
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA)