Tour of Utah: Carpenter overcomes early crash to finish 4th in Bountiful

Robin Carpenter's experience at the Tour of Utah on Friday may be best described as a Tale of Two Races.

The first part of the tale saw the Holowesko-Citadel rider hit the deck hard about 50 kilometres into the 185-kilometre day and briefly consider abandoning on the side of the road. The second tale saw Carpenter chase back into the peloton, make the select lead group on the final hilly circuits in Bountiful and finish fourth despite being covered in road rash and bandages.

After undergoing a brief concussion protocol on the side of the road after his crash because his helmet was cracked, Carpenter was ready to jump back into the race. But he was not allowed to proceed with the cracked headgear, and the team car with him didn't have a spare. Carpenter eventually borrowed a helmet from a fan alongside the road, but even that came with complications.

"I had to walk 300 metres up to get it because they wouldn't let me continue on without a helmet or a broken helmet, and we couldn't reach the team car on the phone," Carpenter said.

"I was about two seconds from climbing in the car and calling it, and someone in the broom wagon was yelling how someone had a helmet up the road. They wouldn't let me ride to get it, so I had to walk to it. It was probably from 1985 or something. Ironically, it was probably more dangerous than riding with a cracked helmet."

Once he was back on the road, Carpenter faced the formidable task of getting back into the bunch. Race radio had him at least five minutes behind the main field for when he started his effort. Carpenter said it took about half an hour to get back on.

"It was a long ways,” he said. “It took a while before we saw any flashing lights, but I just stayed calm."

Luckily for Carpenter, the day's breakaway finally got away not long after his crash, and at that point the peloton slowed enough to make his chase just a little bit easier. Once back in the group, Carpenter swapped helmets and put a top result back on his agenda.

The peloton brought back the remnants of the day's breakaway as the race reached the edge of the finishing town of Bountiful, where the peloton faced a category 3 climb on each of the two 14 kilometre closing circuits. Carpenter stayed with the leaders until he got popped out of the group on the second ascent, just kilometres from the finish.

"There was a real small group and then the Travis [McCabe] group, and they made contact halfway between the top of the climb and the descent," he said. "I was in the small group and I attacked them on the last flat part right before the downhill, drifted down the hill and then basically caught the lead group on the sharp turn. There were guys being tailed off the back, so it took until the last turn for me to get to the front."

BMC Racing's Joey Rosskopf pulled the reduced peloton into the finale with teammate Brent Bookwalter on his wheel, but as the fast finishers wound up to speed, Carpenter quickly powered into the lead. McCabe opened his sprint with around 250 metres to go, then surged to the front past Carpenter and held on to take the victory, with Marco Canola (Nippo-Vini Fantini) pipping Logan Owen (Axeon Hagens Berman) for second and Carpenter settling for fourth.

Given the circumstances, a rather remarkable finish.

"I'm pretty happy with taking fourth after a day like that," he said to reporters in the finishing straight before riding off to the medical tent.

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