Organisers of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah confirmed today that Australian Continental team Mobius BridgeLane will replace Bardiani-CSF in the team line up for the 2.HC race that rolls out of St. George on August 6.
Bardiani-CSF was initially part of the team roster when orgnanisers made their team announcement in May, but the Italian Pro Continental team was forced to withdraw over travel budget issues, according to race organisers, and will be replaced by the Australian formation to fill out the race's 17-team field.
"Mobius BridgeLane, a UCI Continental team with all its riders from Australia or New Zealand, is now part of the field after Bardiani-CSF returned its invitation due to travel budget constraints," organisers said in a statement emailed to Cyclingnews on Monday. "The addition of Mobius BridgeLane maintains the race's international flavor, with teams from Australia, The Netherlands, Italy, Israel, Canada and the USA competing on August 6-12 in Utah. Competition will include five WorldTour, six UCI Pro Continental and six UCI Continental teams."
BMC Racing, EF Education First-Drapac, Mitchelton-Scott, Trek-Segafredo and LottoNL-Jumbo will represent the WorldTour in Utah this year, alongside Pro Continental teams Hagens Berman Axeon, Holowesko-Citadel, Israel Cycling Academy, Nippo-Vini Fantini, Rally Cycling and UnitedHealthcare. Continental teams include 303 Project, Aevolo Cycling, Elevate-KHS, Jelly Belly-Maxxis and Silber Pro Cycling.
Mobius BridgeLane is only in its first year as a Continental outfit, but has proven so far the team is up to the challenge of competing in big races. The team, run by manager Tom Petty, previously competed in the US earlier this year in April at the Joe Martin Stage Race and the Tour of the Gila, where climbing specialist Alexander Evans finished third on the opening-day climb to Mogollon. Evans is currently riding as a stagiaire with BMC Racing.
"As a team, we are determined to continue growing and developing the talent we have here in Oceania while also increasing our international racing and exposure," Petty said in a post about the Tour of Utah on the team's website.
"The invitation to Utah is a reward for the collective effort made by everyone involved, not just this year, but also in the development years leading up to this season," Petty said. "Everyone knows running a team these days is not easy, especially managing the change as you grow, and staying true to the community values we have. Everyone makes sacrifices to be here, and we are really fired up to capitalize on any opportunity within this race."
Angus Lyons, a 22-year-old who took leave from his academic studies to focus on racing full time this season, will lead the team in Utah. Lyons won the Young Rider jersey at the UCI 2.2 Joe Martin Stage Race in Arkansas after finishing fourth on stage 1 up Mount Sequoia.
After the racing block in the US, Lyons headed to The Netherlands for some criteriums, taking two wins and a third place, before traveling to Utah last week to get acclimated to the high altitude prior to the race start.
Starting in southern Utah, the race takes the peloton north for a finale in Park City, covering 857km and more than 13,344 metres of elevation gain across seven days of racing in Utah high-desert climate.
Like most of the climbers int he race, Lyons said he's eyeing the final two stages to Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort on Saturday, and the Park City loop on Sunday that takes in Guardsman Pass and Empire Pass.
"I think all eyes are going to be on stages 5 and 6," Lyons said. "They both have big climbs within striking distance from the finish line. Historically the winner of stage five into Snowbird hasn’t been able to hold onto the jersey, but it is certainly one that suits pure climbers.
"Stage 3 into Payson has the ability to break the field up a lot, I think. But with the climb topping out at 45km from the finish it would be a tall ask for a solo rider to create a gap and then hold it to the line. So it would be those last two stages that I would be really looking at."
The race starts August 6 with a short, uphill prologue time trial in St. George, then moves north with stages that finish in Cedar City, Payson City, Layton City and Salt Lake City before the Queen stage to Snowbird on the penultimate day. The race concludes August 12 with the return of the iconic stage that starts and finishes in Park City.