Category: Tour of Utah

Villalobos heads to WorldTour with EF Education First

Mexican rider Luis Ricardo Villalobos, the revelation of this year’s Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, is set to make his WorldTour debut in 2019. EF Education First-Drapac has signed the 20-year-old to a three-year contract less than a month after Villalobos won the best young rider’s jersey and finished eighth overall at the Utah race.

The deal is somewhat unorthodox. For 2019, Villalobos will ride with his current team Aevolo during the spring months, and then join EF in the summer. EF will pay Villalobos starting in January.

In an official statement sent to VeloNews, EF Education First stated, “Luis will continue his development with Aevolo for the first half of 2019. Then, if all goes well, he will join us on the WorldTour for the second half of 2019.”

Villalobos said he had a WorldTour offer from Dutch team LottoNL-Jumbo, but chose the American EF squad because of the team’s commitment to his continued development. He said Aevolo director Michael Creed also helped him navigate the opportunities that he had for the WorldTour.

The EF deal “was very good for my development and to help me mature both for my body and mind,” Villalobos said. “It was a better, long-term opportunity and less pressure when climbing to the WorldTour.”

Villalobos’s jump to the WorldTour marks an important milestone for Mexican cycling. It has been nearly 20 years since a professional cyclist from Mexico has stepped from the lower ranks directly into cycling’s top echelon.

Luis Villalobos raced as a junior at the 2016 UCI World Road Championships in Qatar. Tim De Waele

A family legacy in cycling

Villalobos comes from a cycling family. His father, Juan Francisco, rode professionally in Mexico with the Canel’s Turbo squad, and also competed abroad. He finished second at the 1993 Vuelta a Mexico to French legend Laurent Fignon. Family commitments and cycling politics kept him from pursuing a career in the sport’s top echelon.

“He suffered a lot in Europe, ‘con hambre (with hunger)’ he would say,” Villalobos said about his father. “He didn’t want for us to go through the same thing he did, he wanted us to get an education, he never wanted to take us out on the bike.”

Luis Villalobos took up cycling and showed early promise. At age 17, he finished fifth overall at the Tour de l’Abititi and captured Mexico’s junior national title in the road race and individual time trial. The next year, he raced in Europe with the Mexican national team, scoring top finishes in development races.

Villalobos came of age with a strong group of advisors, which included his father and his trainer, sports doctor Jesus Rivera. He grew up in Lagos de Moreno in the state of Jalisco, a mountainous region that has produced other Mexican cyclists. He still lives in the area with his girlfriend and his 11-month-old son, not far from his parents. He works with a sports psychologist to help him deal with the stresses of being a professional cyclist.

Pro cyclists occasionally jump to the WorldTour too early in their careers and struggle with the increased level of racing, as well as the isolation that often accompanies the move. Villalobos said his eyes are wide open to the potential pitfalls of his step up, thanks to the advice from his father.

“I always try and remain focused on what’s ahead, thanks to my father’s experience,” Villalobos said. “My dad is always telling me, ‘You need to be the same when you’re on top winning or on the bottom. You can’t change your way of being.’ That is something that we need to work on, especially as Mexicans, because we never see them on top.”

Juan Francisco Villalobos says he is extremely proud of his son. So familiar with the pressures that come with racing professionally, he spoke with his son calmly after the queen stage in Utah, though he had been in tears just hours before.

“It was a great emotion that we lived that afternoon,” Juan Francisco Villalobos said. “Luis prepares for that day by day, he looked for it without stopping and now he has arrived, thanks to God. Now he must continue to work hard.”

Overall winner Sepp Kuss congratulated Luis Ricardo Villalobos at the end of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Photo: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Turning heads in Utah

Villalobos wasted little time in asserting himself at the Tour of Utah. During the race’s second road stage he surged to the front of the pack on the climb to Mt. Nebo, initially dropping seasoned WorldTour riders such as Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing), Joe Dombrowski (EF Education First-Drapac), and others. Villalobos eventually settled into a group containing the race’s protagonists and finished fourth on the stage, 32 seconds behind winner Sepp Kuss (LottoNL-Jumbo).

Creed, Aevolo’s director, said he was not surprised by Villalobos’s ability, but rather by the timing of his peak. Creed predicted Villalobos would break out at the Tour of the Gila in May.

“He rode really good the first day at Gila but then he got sick. I felt like that should have been his breakout, to be honest,” Creed said. “I was preparing them to be racing really hard for 15th and 20th on Nebo. So that’s what we were going for, but when we came around, we didn’t see Luis, and then when we finally got around the barrage and we saw him, it was incredible.”

Creed said he received texts from WorldTour directors after the result on Mt. Nebo. The directors had questions about the young Mexican talent.

“I couldn’t recommend [Villalobos] enough. I am only slightly cautious because he’s so young,” Creed said. “Yeah, it is pretty crazy, he’s only 20 but in a lot of ways with his maturity and his attitude, he does seem a lot older.”

So not to add pressure ahead of Utah’s queen stage, which climbed to Snowbird Resort, Creed did not tell Villalobos that WorldTour directors were watching him. Villalobos, however, had lofty ambitions. Before the start of the race, he told reporters that he wanted to see a Mexican rider on the podium. Villalobos finished eighth in Snowbird, 1:23 behind Kuss, and again alongside WorldTour riders.

The next day, on the climb up Empire Pass, Villalobos again turned in an impressive ride. He finished eighth and solidified his victory in the best young rider classification.

“Everything was going through my head,” Villalobos said after the race. “All the sacrifices that we make as cyclists and that I have made, and what we have suffered, maybe not suffered, but it was all worth it at that point and you think, I can do this. You start to dream or to think about it, and then you’re there, and you can’t believe it. You can’t believe that it happened this way.”

Read the full article at Villalobos heads to WorldTour with EF Education First on VeloNews.com.

VeloNews Show: Why Tour of Utah has staying power

Editor’s note: This VeloNews Show includes footage from YouTube/inCycle, YouTube/VelonCC, YouTube/USA Pro Challenge, YouTube/Tour of Utah, YouTube/Colorado Classic, Casey B. Gibson, and Getty Images/Velo Collection.

We are in the midst of two weeks of high-altitude racing here on American soil with the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah followed by the Colorado Classic.

So many North American stage races have failed to last in this late-summer time slot. Why does Tour of Utah survive? We examine the keys to its success.

Plus, we check in on Tour champ Geraint Thomas after his big win in France. Should he keep celebrating?

All that and more on this episode of the VeloNews Show.

Read the full article at VeloNews Show: Why Tour of Utah has staying power on VeloNews.com.

Utah gallery: Kuss tames Empire Pass to win GC















Read the full article at Utah gallery: Kuss tames Empire Pass to win GC on VeloNews.com.

Utah stage 6: Kuss wins final stage and takes overall victory in Park City

Sepp Kuss (LottoNL-Jumbo) continued his stunning run of form with a spectacular victory on the sixth and final stage of the 2018 Tour of Utah on Sunday. BMC’s Brent Bookwalter and Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott), who were close to catching Kuss in the final meters, finished second and third. Haig’s ride was good enough to move him from fifth to third place overall, while Israel Cycling Academy’s Ben Hermans finished 38-seconds back to hold on to his overall runner-up position.

The 126-kilometer final stage started and finished in Park City and featured a final climb up the steep Empire Pass, before a fast 8-kilometer descent to the finish line. A large breakaway got away early, but the LottoNL-Jumbo team of race leader Kuss held the gap to a small margin of roughly four minutes.

The gap was small enough that a group including Isiah Newkirk (303 Project) and Rally Cycling teammates Evan Huffman and Kyle Murphy attacked out of the peloton to bridge up to the break. Newkirk and Huffman blew up a few meters before making contact with the early break, while Murphy successfully made contact directly before the race hit the final climb up Empire Pass.

EF Education First-Drapac’s Nate Brown attacked while the break was on the lower slopes of the climb and quickly established a gap. Back in the peloton, Kuss found himself isolated from his LottoNL teammates. Haig attacked in an attempt to capitalize on the situation, but Kuss was able to follow the move with ease, while Hugh Carthy (EF Education First-Drapac) dug deep to go with the duo.

However, Carthy found himself unable to follow the pace shortly after. After a few kilometers of following Haig, Kuss attacked to set off in hot pursuit of the lone leader Brown.

Kuss would quickly catch and drop Brown and continued to build his advantage over the chasers while pushing a massive gear to the summit of the climb. By the summit, Kuss held a 45-second lead on a revived Carthy and chasing Haig and Keegan Swirbul (Jelly Belly-Maxxis).

Kuss descended slowly down the rain-soaked descent, while Bookwalter was able to take risks to catch and pass the more cautious Carthy and Swirbul.

Kuss entered the final kilometer in downtown Park City with his overall race lead locked up, but the stage win was still on the line as Haig and Bookwalter were closing down on him on the uphill pitch to the finish line. However, Kuss dug deep to find the strength to hold them off as he crossed the line for his third stage win of the week and an impressive overall victory.

Kuss’s victory came in conjunction with an announcement that his LottoNL-Jumbo team was planning to take the young American sensation to the upcoming Vuelta a Espana.

The Larry H.Miller Tour of Utah Stage 6 Results

Rank Name Team Time
1 KUSS Sepp Team LottoNL-Jumbo 3:09:22
2 BOOKWALTER Brent BMC Racing Team 0:08
3 HAIG Jack Mitchelton-Scott ,,
4 CARTHY Hugh Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 0:27
5 SWIRBUL Keegan Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 0:28
6 HERMANS Ben Israel Cycling Academy 0:38
7 DOMBROWSKI Joe Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 0:43
8 VILLALOBOS HERNANDEZ Luis Aevolo 1:14
9 BROWN Nathan Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale ,,
10 CONCI Nicola Trek – Segafredo 1:15
11 BURKE Jack Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 1:18
12 WOODS Michael Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 1:48
13 STETINA Peter Trek – Segafredo 2:23
14 TVETCOV Serghei UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 2:25
15 ROSSKOPF Joey BMC Racing Team 3:26
16 EISENHART Taylor Holowesko – Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources 3:40
17 POWLESS Neilson Team LottoNL-Jumbo 4:16
18 BRITTON Rob Rally Cycling 4:50
19 HOEHN Alex Aevolo ,,
20 EG Niklas Trek – Segafredo 4:54
21 BACA Tony 303Project 5:02
22 LYONS Angus Mobius-BridgeLane 5:25
23 ZUKOWSKY Nicolas Silber Pro Cycling 6:11
24 RIES Michel Trek – Segafredo ,,
25 FRANKINY Kilian BMC Racing Team ,,
26 ANDERSON Edward Hagens Berman Axeon 6:25
27 VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC Racing Team 6:27
28 EVANS Alexander BMC Racing Team 6:35
29 POWER Robert Mitchelton-Scott ,,
30 DE LUNA Flavio 303Project 6:37
31 DIDIER Laurent Trek – Segafredo ,,
32 BENNETT Sean Hagens Berman Axeon ,,
33 SANCHEZ Brayan Holowesko – Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources ,,
34 FRAYRE Eder Elevate – KHS Pro Cycling 6:45
35 SANTAROMITA Ivan Nippo – Vini Fantini – Europa Ovini 6:48
36 JARAMILLO Daniel Alexander UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 7:08
37 CIMA Damiano Nippo – Vini Fantini – Europa Ovini 7:13
38 EASTER Griffin 303Project 7:21
39 CHEYNE Jordan Elevate – KHS Pro Cycling 7:32
40 MANNION Gavin UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 7:39
41 HECHT Gage Aevolo 8:12
42 BROWN Connor Mobius-BridgeLane 8:34
43 PLAZA Rubén Israel Cycling Academy 8:55
44 MAWDITT Lionel Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 9:26
45 CANTY Brendan Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale ,,
46 FONT MAS Bernat 303Project 9:28
47 ROBERGE Adam Silber Pro Cycling 10:03
48 HAIDET Lance Aevolo ,,
49 JEAN Émile Silber Pro Cycling ,,
50 CHRETIEN Charles-etienne Silber Pro Cycling ,,
51 MCCABE Travis UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 10:43
52 EASTER Cullen 303Project ,,
53 MURPHY Kyle Rally Cycling 11:36
54 KRASILNIKAU Andrei Holowesko – Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources 12:07
55 LIVINGSTONE Peter Mobius-BridgeLane 12:21
56 CASTILLO Ulises Alfredo Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis ,,
57 OLIVIER Daan Team LottoNL-Jumbo 13:06
58 PHILIPSEN Jasper Hagens Berman Axeon ,,
59 WILLIAMS Tyler Israel Cycling Academy 13:07
60 ORONTE Emerson Rally Cycling 13:26
61 COMPANIONI Ruben Holowesko – Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources 14:45
62 SCHMITT Morgan Holowesko – Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources ,,
63 MCCULLOCH Brian Elevate – KHS Pro Cycling 14:49
64 LEMUS Luis Israel Cycling Academy 14:56
65 PONZI Simone Nippo – Vini Fantini – Europa Ovini 16:34
66 CIMA Imerio Nippo – Vini Fantini – Europa Ovini ,,
67 HATSUYAMA Sho Nippo – Vini Fantini – Europa Ovini ,,
68 BEWLEY Sam Mitchelton-Scott 16:44
69 SAGIV Guy Israel Cycling Academy 17:46
70 REIJNEN Kiel Trek – Segafredo ,,
71 RAST Gregory Trek – Segafredo 18:19
72 CHAVES Brayan Mitchelton-Scott 18:34
73 MASBOURIAN Nicolas Silber Pro Cycling 18:38
74 ELLSAY Nigel Rally Cycling 18:40
75 CLARKE William Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 18:44
76 EENKHOORN Pascal Team LottoNL-Jumbo 18:47
77 SIMPSON George Elevate – KHS Pro Cycling 18:56
78 MEYER Cameron Mitchelton-Scott 19:19
79 MCGEOUGH Cormac Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 19:26
80 HAEDO Lucas Sebastian UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 20:15
81 CLARKE Jonathan UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team ,,
82 REVARD Thomas Hagens Berman Axeon 20:41
83 HAMILTON Lucas Mitchelton-Scott 20:46
84 SCHREURS Hamish Israel Cycling Academy ,,
85 RICE Michael Hagens Berman Axeon 21:23
86 BROWN Jonathan Hagens Berman Axeon ,,
87 NEWKIRK Isaiah 303Project ,,
88 SHELDEN Taylor Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 21:26
89 WYNANTS Maarten Team LottoNL-Jumbo 22:37
90 BOUWMAN Koen Team LottoNL-Jumbo ,,
91 MAAS Jan Team LottoNL-Jumbo ,,
92 COYLE Jesse Mobius-BridgeLane ,,
93 HUFFMAN Evan Rally Cycling ,,
94 ZIJLAARD Maikel Hagens Berman Axeon 22:41
Rank Name Team Time
1 KUSS Sepp Team LottoNL-Jumbo 21:41:12
2 HERMANS Ben Israel Cycling Academy 2:09
3 HAIG Jack Mitchelton-Scott 2:21
4 BOOKWALTER Brent BMC Racing Team 2:39
5 CARTHY Hugh Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 2:42
6 DOMBROWSKI Joe Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 2:58
7 SWIRBUL Keegan Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 3:39
8 VILLALOBOS HERNANDEZ Luis Aevolo 3:57
9 WOODS Michael Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 4:38
10 STETINA Peter Trek – Segafredo 5:50
11 BURKE Jack Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 7:52
12 CONCI Nicola Trek – Segafredo 8:02
13 POWLESS Neilson Team LottoNL-Jumbo 8:25
14 TVETCOV Serghei UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 8:27
15 BRITTON Rob Rally Cycling ,,
16 ROSSKOPF Joey BMC Racing Team 8:34
17 HOEHN Alex Aevolo 13:29
18 VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC Racing Team 13:54
19 LYONS Angus Mobius-BridgeLane 13:58
20 EISENHART Taylor Holowesko – Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources 14:30
21 BENNETT Sean Hagens Berman Axeon 15:21
22 ZUKOWSKY Nicolas Silber Pro Cycling 15:26
23 MURPHY Kyle Rally Cycling 15:54
24 BROWN Nathan Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 17:13
25 ANDERSON Edward Hagens Berman Axeon 17:20
26 FRAYRE Eder Elevate – KHS Pro Cycling 17:37
27 EASTER Griffin 303Project 18:28
28 FRANKINY Kilian BMC Racing Team 19:53
29 RIES Michel Trek – Segafredo 21:04
30 JARAMILLO Daniel Alexander UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 21:54
31 MANNION Gavin UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 22:26
32 SANCHEZ Brayan Holowesko – Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources 24:48
33 EG Niklas Trek – Segafredo 27:36
34 HECHT Gage Aevolo 28:35
35 POWER Robert Mitchelton-Scott 33:05
36 EVANS Alexander BMC Racing Team 33:19
37 PLAZA Rubén Israel Cycling Academy 33:39
38 SANTAROMITA Ivan Nippo – Vini Fantini – Europa Ovini 33:45
39 LIVINGSTONE Peter Mobius-BridgeLane 34:53
40 DE LUNA Flavio 303Project 36:53
41 BROWN Connor Mobius-BridgeLane 38:20
42 EASTER Cullen 303Project 39:44
43 OLIVIER Daan Team LottoNL-Jumbo 41:36
44 HUFFMAN Evan Rally Cycling 42:30
45 ORONTE Emerson Rally Cycling 43:55
46 FONT MAS Bernat 303Project 46:33
47 REVARD Thomas Hagens Berman Axeon 46:39
48 CHEYNE Jordan Elevate – KHS Pro Cycling 47:16
49 BACA Tony 303Project 52:03
50 NEWKIRK Isaiah 303Project 54:09
51 CANTY Brendan Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 54:17
52 REIJNEN Kiel Trek – Segafredo 54:35
53 MCCABE Travis UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 54:43
54 MEYER Cameron Mitchelton-Scott 56:23
55 CASTILLO Ulises Alfredo Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 57:00
56 CHRETIEN Charles-etienne Silber Pro Cycling 57:21
57 PONZI Simone Nippo – Vini Fantini – Europa Ovini 58:18
58 CIMA Damiano Nippo – Vini Fantini – Europa Ovini 58:57
59 MAWDITT Lionel Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 1:00:41
60 HATSUYAMA Sho Nippo – Vini Fantini – Europa Ovini 1:01:02
61 DIDIER Laurent Trek – Segafredo 1:01:19
62 MASBOURIAN Nicolas Silber Pro Cycling 1:01:34
63 EENKHOORN Pascal Team LottoNL-Jumbo 1:03:07
64 ELLSAY Nigel Rally Cycling 1:03:20
65 HAEDO Lucas Sebastian UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 1:05:25
66 PHILIPSEN Jasper Hagens Berman Axeon 1:06:51
67 CHAVES Brayan Mitchelton-Scott 1:06:57
68 CIMA Imerio Nippo – Vini Fantini – Europa Ovini 1:07:24
69 COMPANIONI Ruben Holowesko – Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources 1:07:56
70 LEMUS Luis Israel Cycling Academy 1:07:58
71 CLARKE Jonathan UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 1:09:09
72 JEAN Émile Silber Pro Cycling 1:09:15
73 BROWN Jonathan Hagens Berman Axeon 1:09:27
74 RICE Michael Hagens Berman Axeon 1:10:47
75 HAIDET Lance Aevolo 1:11:30
76 ROBERGE Adam Silber Pro Cycling 1:12:02
77 CLARKE William Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 1:13:29
78 WILLIAMS Tyler Israel Cycling Academy 1:14:07
79 KRASILNIKAU Andrei Holowesko – Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources 1:15:47
80 SIMPSON George Elevate – KHS Pro Cycling 1:16:41
81 HAMILTON Lucas Mitchelton-Scott 1:16:58
82 SCHREURS Hamish Israel Cycling Academy 1:18:22
83 BOUWMAN Koen Team LottoNL-Jumbo 1:18:38
84 MAAS Jan Team LottoNL-Jumbo 1:18:42
85 WYNANTS Maarten Team LottoNL-Jumbo 1:18:52
86 SHELDEN Taylor Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 1:19:23
87 RAST Gregory Trek – Segafredo 1:20:12
88 SCHMITT Morgan Holowesko – Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources 1:23:17
89 MCCULLOCH Brian Elevate – KHS Pro Cycling 1:24:16
90 BEWLEY Sam Mitchelton-Scott 1:24:55
91 SAGIV Guy Israel Cycling Academy 1:25:49
92 MCGEOUGH Cormac Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 1:26:26
93 ZIJLAARD Maikel Hagens Berman Axeon 1:30:06
94 COYLE Jesse Mobius-BridgeLane 1:37:49
Rank Name Team Time
1 VILLALOBOS HERNANDEZ Luis Aevolo 21:45:09
2 CONCI Nicola Trek – Segafredo 4:05
3 POWLESS Neilson Team LottoNL-Jumbo 4:28
4 HOEHN Alex Aevolo 9:32
5 LYONS Angus Mobius-BridgeLane 10:01
6 BENNETT Sean Hagens Berman Axeon 11:24
7 ZUKOWSKY Nicolas Silber Pro Cycling 11:29
8 ANDERSON Edward Hagens Berman Axeon 13:23
9 RIES Michel Trek – Segafredo 17:07
10 HECHT Gage Aevolo 24:38
11 EVANS Alexander BMC Racing Team 29:22
12 LIVINGSTONE Peter Mobius-BridgeLane 30:56
13 BROWN Connor Mobius-BridgeLane 34:23
14 REVARD Thomas Hagens Berman Axeon 42:42
15 CHRETIEN Charles-etienne Silber Pro Cycling 53:24
16 EENKHOORN Pascal Team LottoNL-Jumbo 59:10
17 PHILIPSEN Jasper Hagens Berman Axeon 1:02:54
18 CHAVES Brayan Mitchelton-Scott 1:03:00
19 CIMA Imerio Nippo – Vini Fantini – Europa Ovini 1:03:27
20 BROWN Jonathan Hagens Berman Axeon 1:05:30
21 RICE Michael Hagens Berman Axeon 1:06:50
22 HAIDET Lance Aevolo 1:07:33
23 ROBERGE Adam Silber Pro Cycling 1:08:05
24 HAMILTON Lucas Mitchelton-Scott 1:13:01
25 MAAS Jan Team LottoNL-Jumbo 1:14:45
26 MCGEOUGH Cormac Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 1:22:29
27 ZIJLAARD Maikel Hagens Berman Axeon 1:26:09
Rank Name Team Points
1 MCCABE Travis UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 55
2 CASTILLO Ulises Alfredo Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 33
3 KUSS Sepp Team LottoNL-Jumbo 31
4 BOOKWALTER Brent BMC Racing Team 28
5 PHILIPSEN Jasper Hagens Berman Axeon 27
6 POWLESS Neilson Team LottoNL-Jumbo 20
7 REIJNEN Kiel Trek – Segafredo 18
8 MURPHY Kyle Rally Cycling 14
9 HAIG Jack Mitchelton-Scott 13
10 HERMANS Ben Israel Cycling Academy 11
11 EISENHART Taylor Holowesko – Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources 10
12 WOODS Michael Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 10
13 VILLALOBOS HERNANDEZ Luis Aevolo 10
14 CLARKE Jonathan UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 8
15 CONCI Nicola Trek – Segafredo 8
16 CIMA Damiano Nippo – Vini Fantini – Europa Ovini 8
17 CARTHY Hugh Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 7
18 SWIRBUL Keegan Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 7
19 JARAMILLO Daniel Alexander UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 6
20 ANDERSON Edward Hagens Berman Axeon 6
21 CIMA Imerio Nippo – Vini Fantini – Europa Ovini 6
22 TVETCOV Serghei UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 5
23 PLAZA Rubén Israel Cycling Academy 5
24 SIMPSON George Elevate – KHS Pro Cycling 5
25 BROWN Nathan Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 5
26 DOMBROWSKI Joe Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 4
27 BENNETT Sean Hagens Berman Axeon 3
28 HUFFMAN Evan Rally Cycling 3
29 PONZI Simone Nippo – Vini Fantini – Europa Ovini 3
30 ELLSAY Nigel Rally Cycling 3
31 SHELDEN Taylor Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 3
32 MCGEOUGH Cormac Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 3
33 MANNION Gavin UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 2
34 BOUWMAN Koen Team LottoNL-Jumbo 2
35 ROSSKOPF Joey BMC Racing Team 1
36 FRANKINY Kilian BMC Racing Team 1
37 RIES Michel Trek – Segafredo 1
38 OLIVIER Daan Team LottoNL-Jumbo 1
39 DIDIER Laurent Trek – Segafredo 1
40 RICE Michael Hagens Berman Axeon 1
41 SCHREURS Hamish Israel Cycling Academy 1
42 BEWLEY Sam Mitchelton-Scott 1
Rank Name Team Points
1 KUSS Sepp Team LottoNL-Jumbo 34
2 JARAMILLO Daniel Alexander UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 27
3 CARTHY Hugh Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 23
4 HAIG Jack Mitchelton-Scott 18
5 DOMBROWSKI Joe Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 16
6 HERMANS Ben Israel Cycling Academy 15
7 BACA Tony 303Project 13
8 OLIVIER Daan Team LottoNL-Jumbo 13
9 EASTER Griffin 303Project 13
10 HUFFMAN Evan Rally Cycling 12
11 BOOKWALTER Brent BMC Racing Team 11
12 BRITTON Rob Rally Cycling 11
13 MAWDITT Lionel Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 10
14 SWIRBUL Keegan Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 9
15 FRANKINY Kilian BMC Racing Team 9
16 STETINA Peter Trek – Segafredo 8
17 EG Niklas Trek – Segafredo 7
18 CLARKE Jonathan UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 7
19 WOODS Michael Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 6
20 MURPHY Kyle Rally Cycling 6
21 SIMPSON George Elevate – KHS Pro Cycling 6
22 VILLALOBOS HERNANDEZ Luis Aevolo 5
23 FRAYRE Eder Elevate – KHS Pro Cycling 5
24 HECHT Gage Aevolo 5
25 CASTILLO Ulises Alfredo Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 5
26 BROWN Nathan Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 4
27 SANTAROMITA Ivan Nippo – Vini Fantini – Europa Ovini 4
28 BURKE Jack Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 3
29 DIDIER Laurent Trek – Segafredo 3
30 ROSSKOPF Joey BMC Racing Team 2
31 PLAZA Rubén Israel Cycling Academy 2
32 SANCHEZ Brayan Holowesko – Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources 1
Rank Name Time
1 Team EF Education First-Drapac p/b Cannondale 65:13:19
2 BMC Racing Team 11:19
3 Trek – Segafredo 22:26
4 Team LottoNL-Jumbo 33:27
5 Aevolo 36:18
6 UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team 43:06
7 Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis 47:39
8 Rally Cycling 48:03
9 Hagens Berman Axeon 1:00:14
10 303Project 1:12:07
11 Mitchelton-Scott 1:15:28
12 Mobius-BridgeLane 1:16:54
13 Israel Cycling Academy 1:16:55
14 Holowesko – Citadel p/b Arapahoe Resources 1:27:43
15 Silber Pro Cycling 1:39:01
16 Elevate – KHS Pro Cycling 1:54:28
17 Nippo – Vini Fantini – Europa Ovini 2:12:20

Results provided by ProCyclingStats.

Read the full article at Utah stage 6: Kuss wins final stage and takes overall victory in Park City on VeloNews.com.

Tour of Utah traces success to careful spending, wise timing, and balanced competition

ROADSIDE SPECTATORS at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah have seen riders from across five different WorldTour teams roll by this week, with marquee names Tejay van Garderen (BMC) and Mike Woods (EF Education First-Drapac), among others, in attendance ahead of their Vuelta a España campaigns. Domestic star Travis McCabe (UnitedHealthcare) has lit up the sprint stages, while two Continental riders have been fighting for spots inside the top 10 overall.

The race’s blend of WorldTour, Pro Continental, and UCI Continental teams is set to extend for the foreseeable future. Race organizers confirmed this week that the Tour of Utah will return in 2019, and that the organization has no plans to stop or downgrade the race anytime soon. Organizers have embraced the race’s spot within the U.S. domestic racing scene as the country’s second largest event, behind the Amgen Tour of California, which has UCI WorldTour status. And Utah’s organizers understand that the race’s place within the U.S. domestic racing scene has grown increasingly important in recent years.

That’s why the race has no plans to seek a higher UCI categorization anytime soon.

“We do recognize we fit a very important niche in that space,” said Steven Miller, chairman of the Tour of Utah and son of the late Larry H. Miller. “If we upgrade, we realize that creates a massive void for a lot of teams that now really rely on the Tour of Utah.”

TWO YEARS AGO, the UCI announced that the Amgen Tour of California would upgrade to WorldTour status, news that roughly coincided with the official death knell of the USA Pro Challenge, last held in 2015. Then, as now, many in the sport pondered the future of the North American race scene. Where would domestic Continental teams get their chance to ride against the best?

Even in the same challenging environment that sunk the USA Pro Challenge and, last year, the Tour of Alberta, the Tour of Utah has thrived. The field is as strong in 2018 as it has ever been. At the same time, it still includes a number of domestic squads. For them, the stretch of racing between the Tour of Utah and the Colorado Classic, whose second edition gets underway in less than a week, is the most important part of the season calendar.

The diverse spread of teams in attendance in Utah is no coincidence. It is the result of a great deal of planning, and, at present, a commitment to a critical position in the North American pro racing scene.

“We want at least five or six WorldTour teams every year,” Miller said.

It’s an ambitious goal for a North American stage race, but one the Tour of Utah accomplished this season with BMC, EF, Mitchelton-Scott, LottoNL-Jumbo, and Trek-Segafredo all in attendance.

After only one top-division team made the start in 2017, the Tour of Utah made a stronger effort to court WorldTour teams in 2018, knowing the importance of the presenting a quality list of contenders.

“We went out, really, much further in advance approaching the WorldTour teams,” said managing director John Kimball.

Changes to the UCI calendar helped Utah woo WorldTour teams. The Tour de France started later than usual this year thanks to soccer’s World Cup. The Tour of Utah also started roughly one week later than it did in 2017. Last year’s opening day of racing in Utah was July 31. This year’s was August 6.

“We kind of lean on [the UCI] to tell us when it makes the most sense for the calendar,” Kimball said. “I think it really did help us move back a week. That allowed us to get more WorldTour teams able to send teams this year. We’re looking forward to next year being the same scenario.”

With the 2018 Tour de France concluding in Paris on July 29, van Garderen might not have attended had Utah gotten underway a week prior. What’s more, the event remains perfectly positioned ahead of the Vuelta. Kimball pointed to Utah’s altitude training opportunities as key selling point the race relied on to draw the world’s biggest teams this season. Sports directors at the race agree with that assessment, and have also pointed to the heat — unpleasant though it may be — as a helpful primer ahead of the season’s hottest grand tour.

Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) took the Tour of Utah prologue win, and with it the lead in the stage race. Photo: Casey B. Gibson

According to Miller, the Tour of Utah is welcoming to any WorldTour squad interested in making the trip. Figuring out which second- and third-tier outfits receive invites is a more selective process.

“The Pro Continental teams, they kind of sort themselves out based on caliber of their rosters,” Miller says. This year, that has worked out to mean that four of the five American Pro Conti teams — Rally Cycling, UnitedHealthcare, Hagens Berman Axeon, and Holowesko-Citadel — are making the start along with Israel Cycling Academy and Nippo-Vini Fantini.

“The very nature of the selection process often has the Continental teams being the third and last bucket that we select from, but we always save space for at least a handful of Continental teams because we realize that there’s value in those Continental teams based on the rider composition and the team composition,” Miller said.

In short, Continental teams are an important part of the puzzle. For this year’s edition of the event, Italian Pro Continental outfit Bardiani-CSF was slated to send a squad to Utah, bringing the total number of attending teams to 17, up one from the recent norm of 16 squads. However, Bardiani pulled out in the lead up to the race. Instead of moving forward with 16 teams as in past editions, the race extended an invite to Mobius-BridgeLane. The Australian Continental squad accepted, rounding out this year’s 17-team selection.

According to Kimball, the race leans on race production company Medalist Sports to help with the decision-making process behind which teams get invites. The ability to field a competitive roster is the key factor in making the grade, although Kimball says the race is willing to take risks on smaller teams considering how well some of them have performed in Utah in the past.

Invitations to races at any UCI level are not easy to come by for Continental squads. Invitations to 2.HC-rated events are practically invaluable. The Utah-Colorado stretch is the one chance for many domestic teams to square off against WorldTour talents on home soil. Events like the Tour de Beauce and the Tour of the Gila are critical targets for teams like 303 Project and Jelly Belly, but there is a significant difference between the Pro Continental teams at the top-tier of those races and the EFs and BMCs in Utah.

“We’ve ridden against the Pro Conti teams here the whole year and there’s been one percent extra but not 10 percent extra. Here, we’re feeling the 10 percent extra,” said 303 Project director Nicholas Greef . “It’s good for us to see where we need to grow and develop.”

For years, the Tour of California and the USA Pro Challenge also gave domestic Continental teams that opportunity. California’s upgrade to the WorldTour level denied access to the country’s UCI Continental teams. The USA Pro Challenge, meanwhile, no longer exists. That leaves Utah, and the Colorado Classic as the country’s only UCI-rated stage races for the UCI Continental squads.

AFTER BOUNCING BETWEEN the UCI calendar and national series in its early years, the Tour of Utah earned 2.1 UCI status in for the 2011 edition and maintained that until 2015, when it became a 2.HC event. In that respect, it has outlasted other big races that have attempted to draw big talents from the peloton to North America, like the Tour of Alberta and the Tour of Missouri.

Careful spending has allowed the race to stay afloat on a relatively small budget. Miller told VeloNews in 2016 that the Tour of Utah’s budget came in at around one-third of the cost of a $10 million event, putting it between $3 and $4 million. He says that things have not changed much since then. Costs are shared between the Larry H. Miller Group — which runs large networks of car dealerships and movie theaters, the NBA’s Utah Jazz, and an array of other business properties — and non-title sponsors. Then there’s the Miller family itself. That safety net is important.

As Steve Miller puts it, the Miller family sees covering the gap between sponsorship revenue and race costs at the Tour of Utah as a largely “philanthropic undertaking.” Fortunately for the race, the Miller family seems comfortable with the nature of that commitment in its current state, even with modest net financial losses each year.

Travis McCabe wins stage 1 of the 2018 Tour of Utah in a field sprint in front of Southern Utah University. Photo: Casey B. Gibson | www.cbgphoto.com

According to Miller, the race’s future is on “safe footing” as long as the Utah communities keep wanting the event to come back, and as long as the costs of the race stay manageable compared to the budget.

“We look at the race on at least a three-year horizon,” Miller said. “If something crazy happens, if the economy went to heck or who knows what, we always reserve the right to tuck our horns in, but we’re already working on ’19 and have been for three, four, five months. And we’re always planting seeds for at least a year beyond that.”

Even that level of stability is rare for North American races that dare to dream of a high UCI rating and top-tier fields. Other than the Tour of California, Utah is the longest running North American race with a UCI rating higher than 2.2.

That track record and that stability have benefits that go beyond peace-of-mind for organizers and teams. The Tour of Utah has developed a reputation as a showcase of emerging stage racing tour talent. That reputation helps keep the start list strong, and it often starts with the Continental invites. They propagate a self-sustaining effect for the race.

“One of the neat things about the Tour of Utah is that you can look at just about any WorldTour roster and you can point to someone who did a good performance at Utah, often as a Continental rider,” Miller said.

For domestic teams, who often find themselves hunting sponsors around this time of year to simply stay in existence for another season, it’s a huge boon to be able to rely on Utah, its highly competitive racing, and its exposure. Right now, the Colorado Classic stretches that boon through a very welcome second week.

Miller points out that the Tour of Utah is not shutting the door to considering a WorldTour upgrade one day. For now, however, that does not seem to be on the event’s radar. As Miller puts it, it comes down to determining “whether the juice is worth the squeeze.” At the moment, Miller and the rest of the decision makers behind the race see value in continuing the race as it is, into 2019 and presumably beyond.

It remains to be seen whether the exposure the Tour of Utah offers will translate to financial stability for hard-pressed domestic squads this season. It remains to be seen whether the riders from second- or third-tier squads that have put their abilities on display in Utah this week will ultimately climb to the WorldTour as further confirmation of the event’s status as a talent showcase.

At the very least, however, North American cycling fans can look forward to more showdowns between grand tour talents and rising domestic stars for the foreseeable future. In an ideal cycling climate, that might not be news. For now, with multiple North American teams facing uncertain futures and only one other active 2.HC race this side of the Atlantic, it is big news — and good news too.

Read the full article at Tour of Utah traces success to careful spending, wise timing, and balanced competition on VeloNews.com.

Utah stage 5 gallery: Kuss climbs away up Cottonwood Canyon

















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Utah stage 5: Kuss unstoppable on Snowbird

Sepp Kuss (LottoNL-Jumbo) attacked on the lower slopes of the climb to the finish at Snowbird Resort on stage five of the 2018 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah and emphatically took his second stage win of the week. The young climber also extended his lead in the general classification with just one stage remaining in the race.

EF Education First-Drapac drove the peloton to the base of the Hors catégorie final climb up Little Cottonwood Canyon and started attacking the greatly reduced peloton as the road kicked upward. First, Mike Woods had a go and then Joe Dombrowski, a former overall winner of the Tour of Utah, attacked. Kuss looked cool, calm, and collected the entire time. He brought both Woods and Dombrowski back into the fold himself before launching his winning attack with 8.2 kilometers still to go.

“It was really cool,” Kuss said of coming down the finishing straight alone and high-fiving fans. “Halfway through the stage, the team had done such a good job that I thought I’d try to go for the win, to do it for the six guys on the team that helped me out so much. To make it across I was happier for them and the staff and everything because it’s been such a nice atmosphere at the race with this team. Really all credit to them and also the fans and everything, it’s fun to be able to relate to the people that are watching the race and have a good time with them.”

Israel Cycling Academy’s Ben Hermans chased Kuss valiantly up the climb and finished the stage in second, over 30 seconds down on Kuss. He also moved into second overall 1:21 behind Kuss. Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) rounded out the stage podium.

Dombrowski still had a solid ride up the climb to move into third overall at 2:05. Nielson Powless (LottoNL-Jumbo), who entered the day sitting second overall, had a tough time up the final climb and lost considerable time. He relinquished his Best Young Rider jersey to Luis Villalobos (Aevolo).

How it unfolded

The rolling terrain at the beginning of the fifth stage of the 2018 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah saw an exciting start with constant attacking. It was nearly an hour of racing into the 157.7-kilometer stage from Canyons Village to the ski resort at Snowbird before a breakaway was firmly established. Team LottoNL-Jumbo then took the responsibility of setting the pace in the peloton, as they have done since Kuss captured the yellow leader’s jersey on stage two.

The breakaway contained 10 riders with Evan Huffman (Rally) the highest ranked rider in the overall standings at less than four minutes down. Joining Huffman were Daniel Jaramillo and Jonny Clarke (UnitedHealthcare), Taylor Shelden (Jelly Belly), Kilian Frankiny (BMC Racing), Kiel Reijnen and Niklas Eg (Trek-Segafredo), Cameron Meyer (Mitchelton-Scott), Ruben Plaza (Israel Cycling Academy), and Ivan Santaromita (Nippo-Vini Fantini-Europa Ovini).

The leading group entered the town of Park City and soon headed up the penultimate climb of the day with less than 60 kilometers remaining. The cat. 1 Guardsmans Pass (12km at 6.8%) is a brutal affair with the final few hundred meters of the climb having rough pavement and incredibly steep gradients. Shelden would be the only breakaway rider dropped on the climb. The peloton would be no more than about 30 riders by the time they arrived at the summit of Guardsmans Pass and they would be less than two minutes behind the leaders.

Heading into the climb to the finish, there was a changing of the guard at the front of the peloton with EF Education First-Drapac taking over the front. The boys in pink set a blistering pace and the gap to the leaders tumbled down.

Though isolated, Kuss looked to be on cruise control on the lower slopes of the Little Cottonwood Canyon climb. Kuss didn’t necessarily attack off the front of the group, but simply increased his pace and no one was able to follow. He quickly brought back the last remaining breakaway rider, Frankiny, and powered into the lead with just over eight kilometers to go.

Hermans missed Kuss’ initial move and would chase the young rider all the way up the climb. He would limit his loses and jump up to second in the overall standings by the end of the day.

Stetina, who finished over two minutes behind on stage two over Mount Nebo, found his rhythm a couple of kilometers into the climb and powered away from the chase group to take third on the stage.

Defending champion Rob Britton (Rally) had a strong day to finish fourth. Jack Haig (Mitchelton-Scott) and the EF Education First-Drapac duo of Dombrowski and Huge Carthy finished in the same time as Britton.

Read the full article at Utah stage 5: Kuss unstoppable on Snowbird on VeloNews.com.

Utah gallery: Riding around Salt Lake City














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Utah: Philipsen edges McCabe in stage 4 circuit race

Jasper Philipsen (Hagens Berman Axeon) won a chaotic photo-finish sprint in downtown Salt Lake City to beat points leader Travis McCabe (UnitedHealthcare) in the stage 4 circuit race. Kiel Reijnen (Trek-Segafredo) grabbed third.

A reduced peloton caught the remnants of the day’s breakaway riders just before heading into the last right-hand corner to the uphill finish. Joey Rosskopf (BMC Racing), who had been in the break all day, hit out on his own one last time but it was not enough. Points leader McCabe launched into his sprint, and Kiel Reijnen went at the same time. Philipsen came from the left, squeezing past McCabe by the slimmest of margins to take the narrowest of wins.

In the overall battle, the top placings remained the same, with Sepp Kuss (LottoNL-Jumbo) still secure in the race’s leader’s jersey. His teammate, Neilson Powless, remains in second, 19 seconds back, with Tejay van Garderen (BMC Racing) in third.

How it unfolded

Nearly from the gun, T.J. Eisenhart (Holowesko Citadel) and Laurent Didier (Trek-Segafredo) launched an attack to separate themselves from the field. Eventually, a group of 15 would coalesce at the front of affairs. It included Eisenhart, Didier, Nigel Ellsay (Rally), Sam Bewley (Mitchelton-Scott), Joey Rosskopf (BMC Racing), Michel Ries (Trek-Segafredo), Sho Hatsuyama (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Ivan Santaromita (Nippo-Vini Fantini), Edward Anderson (Hagens Berman Axeon), Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly), Jonny Clarke (UnitedHealthcare), Taylor Shelden (Jelly Belly), Danick Vandale (Silber), Michael Hernandez (Aevolo), Lance Haidet (Aevolo), and Bernat Font Mas (303 Project).

Battling the heat, which soared to 95 degrees, the LottoNL-Jumbo team of overall leader Sepp Kuss didn’t allow the breakaway a large lead, which settled in at around one minute halfway through the race.

Just past the sprint line with three laps to go, Didier and Haidet fell off the back of the breakaway group. With 25 kilometers to go, the pair were reabsorbed by the peloton.

Meanwhile, Elevate-KHS, which did not have a rider in the break, came to the front of the main pack to pull hard. With two laps to go, the gap was 40 seconds. In the break, Bewley put in a dig through the finish line to try and drop some riders. Instead, he hurt himself, and drifted back. Santaromita was dropped from the group. Bewley regained contact. And it was 11.

As the riders entered City Creek Canyon, Clarke attacked, pushing a big gear up the undulating road. His lead extended to 15 seconds.

Eisenhart dropped back from the break and was reabsorbed.

The break began to fall apart as Shelden attacked, catching Clarke. Then Tvetcov went and Rosskopf followed. It was all back together. Then Hernandez had a dig. It was shut down immediately, before Clarke hinted at another attack.

Entering the finishing stretch with one lap to go, the EF Education First-Drapac team joined LottoNL at the front of the peloton, and dropped the break’s lead to 20 seconds.

Into the final 11.5 kilometer lap, Clarke cracked and was quickly reabsorbed. Rosskopf showed impatience and went to the front of the break to take charge. It proved too much for Shelden who tailed off. Font Mas had a dig but was quickly reeled in by Rosskopf. Then Tvetcov went, but didn’t get far. Non-stop aggression saw their lead grow to 15 seconds. Five riders remained in the front group: Rosskopf, Anderson, Tvetcov, Ries, and Ellsay.

Nicola Conci (Trek-Segafredo) and Sean Bennett (Hagens Berman Axeon) bridged from the peloton up to the front group. Rosskopf drove the pace, keeping the speeds consistent. At 4.5 km to go, the lead was 10 seconds.

Heading down the long, wide boulevard leading into the last right-hand corner, the riders looked around at each other while speeds stayed high. Rosskopf hit out on his own and Tvetcov pulled him back. With a mile to go, the peloton had the break in their sights. With 800 meters to go the catch was made.

Rosskopf gave a final dig. That’s when McCabe launched into his sprint. Philippsen came from the left, squeezing past McCabe to take victory at the line.

Read the full article at Utah: Philipsen edges McCabe in stage 4 circuit race on VeloNews.com.

American U23 talent Hecht takes step forward with Utah start

LAYTON, Utah (VN) — One of the most promising cross-discipline youngsters in American cycling, Gage Hecht is getting acquainted with high-caliber road racing this week at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.

The event marks Hecht’s first appearance in a 2.HC-rated event, and therefore, his first chance to ride against multiple WorldTour outfits in a pro race. He and his Aevolo squad have made the most of their invite so far. Team GC leader Luis Villalobos rode up and over Mount Nebo with most of the overall favorites, finishing fourth on the stage. Hecht jumped off the front in stage 3 to give the team a second breakaway participant in as many days.

“It’s been pretty good,” Hecht said Thursday of Aevolo’s inaugural participation in the race. “Tough stages, yesterday was really hard but everything overall been really good. We had Luis get fourth which was awesome. Michael [Hernandez] was in the break which was great. We’re having a good time.”

It probably makes it easier to have a good time even in the heat when you’re wearing a race jersey — Hecht started stage 3 in the “fan favorite” jersey, having earned the honor in an open fan vote.

“I’m kind of excited about that, fan favorite. I don’t know what I did to get in it but I’m really thankful for all the fans who voted for me,” he said.

He may not have been delivered a big result or any eye-catching antics thus far in the race, but it’s hardly a surprise that fans are excited about Hecht’s presence in Utah.

The 20-year-old has a long history of winning bicycle races. Hecht has been racing since age nine. He has been a junior national champion in both cyclocross and on the road. He is currently the reigning under-23 pan-American ‘cross champ as well as the reigning U23 national time trial champ.

It’s a common theme for several up-and-coming American talents. Hecht squares off against Aevolo teammate Lance Haidet as well as Hagens Berman Axeon’s Christopher Blevins in under-23 ‘cross races in the fall and sees them on the road in the spring and summer.

Hecht may start angling more in the direction of either road or ‘cross in the future but he’s in no rush at the moment. He plans to race a full cyclocross schedule this fall and winter. Further ahead in his career, he expects his results to help guide him towards a preferred discipline.

As a road racer, Hecht is still finding his niche. He may have a national time trial title under his belt, but he says he only recently discovered that part of his skillset.

“The time trial, I’ve gotten a lot better this year, I wasn’t really expecting that,” he said.

For now, Hecht sees himself as a long-range threat. Aggressive racing is also what he enjoys the most.

“Being able to tough through the hard stages where it’s not quite a climbers’ stage and not quite a sprinters’ stage, getting into breaks, that’s my favorite stuff, and it seems to be where I excel,” he said.

Enjoying the ride is a big part of what keeps Hecht motivated to continue his development journey. He is committed to learning the ins and outs of road racing — and has had plenty of opportunities recently with both Aevolo and the U.S. national team — but he says he is also committed to having fun racing with his friends.

“You grow a lot when you’re having a good time and not focusing so hard on getting all the minor details right at this stage of the game,” Hecht said.

After Utah, Hecht may a few more chances to put his talents to the test at the Colorado Classic. In its second year of existence, Mike Creed’s Aevolo team has scored invites to both races, a major boon for a development squad hoping to give its young riders chances to mix it up with WorldTour talent. Hecht, a native of Parker, Colorado, is particularly happy about the chance to race home turf.

Beyond that, and with the 2018 season winding down, he’s not sure where road racing will take him. He is signed with Aevolo through the end of the year, and has not yet nailed down his plans for the coming season. For now, he’s keeping his options open.

“I’d of course love to come back with these guys because it’s such a great team,” he said, “but we’ll see what happens.”

Read the full article at American U23 talent Hecht takes step forward with Utah start on VeloNews.com.