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Louder aims for another Utah title

The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah is the only non-UCI event that the BMC Racing team is scheduled to participate in this year; however, Jeff Louder has made it his priority to capture a second overall title at the six-stage race starting August 17 in his hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah.

"It is a race that's very important to me personally," Louder told Cyclingnews. "It's in my home state and one of two races I will be competing in the US - road nationals being the other. I see it as a great opportunity to go for a result in front of my friends and family and I'm taking my preparation very seriously.

"I am starting the race with the general classification in mind," he continued. "I've been on the podium the last three editions of the race and I am starting this race with the expectation of being there again."

Louder won the overall title in 2008 with help of his BMC Racing teammates. He has a long history with the event, having placed third in the 2006 and 2009 editions. This time around Louder will be supported by US national champion George Hincapie, Brent Bookwalter, Chad Beyer and Simon Zahner.

Prior to the event's start date, the BMC Racing team will spend several days training atop the peaks of nearby Park City to acclimate to the challenging high altitude.

"I've been home from Europe for about two weeks and have been doing what I can to adapt to the altitude, climate and climbing since I've been back," said Louder.

"I had the fortune of being able to stay at 8,000 feet last week and the BMC Racing Team is staging a camp in Park City this week, so I think I'll be well prepared. During the BMC camp, we will look at the key stages and use the time together to focus on the race."

The Tour of Utah is branded as America's toughest stage race because it passes the Rocky Mountain's Wasatch Range surrounding Salt Lake City and challenges the peloton to 480km and more than 30,000 feet of high altitude climbing over a period of six days.

The organisation offers the peloton a prologue and an individual time trial, three mountainous road races with two mountaintop finishes and a new and highly challenging criterium course.

"The addition of the Park City criterium basically means that there is another day to make or lose time in the general classification," explained Louder.

"Every day is dangerous, and the man who wins the overall will have to be strong every day of the race. There will be no free days. That is pretty unique in a stage race and I think that is why the Tour of Utah is one of the hardest races in the US."

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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.