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Leipheimer returns to defend Tour of Utah title

Organisers of the UCI 2.1 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah announced six host venues for this year's six-stage race, set to take place from August 9-14 around Salt Lake City, Utah. And there will be four ProTeams in attendance, with defending champion Levi Leipheimer confirmed as part of Team RadioShack's lineup, which will take on HTC-Highroad, Garmin-Cervélo and BMC Racing.

The race will begin with a prologue in Park City and move on to stage one in Ogden. Stage two's road race will take place in Provo followed by the stage three time trial at the Miller Motorsports Park.

The penultimate stage four will offer the peloton a circuit race in Salt Lake City before the event concludes with the 'queen' stage five that finishes atop the decisive climb of Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort.

"We appreciate all the support of the State of Utah, Salt Lake County, civic communities, corporations and the loyal fans who truly appreciate such a well-established and esteemed sporting event," said Steve Miller, president of the Utah Cycling Partnership which owns the Tour of Utah in a press release.

"It really is more than just a bicycle race now. All of us with the Tour of Utah applaud the continued support to grow this event, which is now in the spotlight as an international event."

Defending champion Levi Leipheimer (RadioShack) will return to Utah this August, having beaten former Grand Tour contender Francisco Mancebo and Ian Boswell at last year's event.

"It was a great week in Utah last year," Leipheimer said in a press statement. "The whole week was hard, a hard course every day. I really appreciate a race like the Tour of Utah, which keeps getting bigger and better. From all the volunteers in the local communities, to the sponsors, and to all the fans who come to each stage, I look forward to defending my title with Team RadioShack this year.

"The 2011 Tour of Utah is a must-see race for US fans, where you'll find the best cycling athletes in the world competing across one of the most scenic regions in the world."

The Tour of Utah is in its seventh edition and upgraded to a UCI-sanctioned 2.1 stage race this year. It is one of nine UCI-sanctioned men's races in North America that includes the UCI 2.HC Amgen Tour of California, UCI 2.2 Tour de Beauce, UCI 1.HC TD Bank Philadelphia International Championships, UCI 2.2 Tour of Elk Grove, UCI 2.1 Quiznos Pro Challenge, UCI 1.2 Univest Grand Prix and the two Canadian World Tour single-day events Grand Prix Cycliste de Quebec and Grande Prix Cycliste de Montreal.

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Kirsten Frattini is an honours graduate of Kinesiology and Health Science from York University in Toronto, Canada. She has been involved in cycling from the community and grassroots level to professional cycling's WorldTour. She has worked in both print and digital publishing, and started with Cyclingnews as a North American Correspondent in 2006. Moving into a Production Editor's role in 2014, she produces and publishes international race coverage for all men's and women's races including Spring Classics, Grand Tours, World Championships and Olympic Games, and writes and edits news and features. As the Women's Editor at Cyclingnews, Kirsten also coordinates and oversees the global coverage of races, news, features and podcasts about women's professional cycling.