The contenders duked it out in the final climb of the Queen stage at the Tour of Utah. Before the stage, 13 riders were separated by 38 seconds in the general classification but after slogging it over 14,778 feet (4,504 m) of climbing over a 98-mile (159 km) road race, the race now comes down to 2 pretenders to the title.
Utah native Jeff Louder (BMC) was triumphant in front of a home crowd and crossed the line first, pointing in pride at his jersey. Yellow jersey Blake Caldwell (Garmin-Chipotle) crossed the line in second place, 13 seconds back. With time bonuses on the line, Caldwell now has a 7-second buffer over Louder going into the final stage, a relatively flat 12-mile (19.3 km) out and back time trial that starts and finishes at the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele.
On paper, Louder has the advantage but the race of truth will decide the overall winner.
Early on in the stage, a break of seven riders was off, and Brad White (Successful Living) went on his 3 break of the race, making sure to garner enough sprint points to win the green jersey. His breakmates were quite happy to let him get the points.
“I asked them, do you guys mind if I go for the points, they said no, not at all, they joked about it for awhile but no one really cared.” said White who consolidated his lead and wins the green jersey.
“The descent I heard was scary so I just took it pretty easy going that and it was, it was kind of scary descent. One of the most beautiful courses I’ve ever seen, unbelievable.” said White.
The attacks fired on the bottom of the last climb with Oscar Sevilla (Rock Racing) launching the first bullet. Chadwick took advantage of the BMC and Garmin teams used their numbers to chase each other down and not only chased down Sevilla but went straight passed him. And behind the duo, Burke Swindlerhurst (Bissell) and Chris Baldwin (Toyota-United) were surging and accelerating, hitting each other and everyone else to try and shatter the legs. Caldwell jumped across to Chadwick and kept on going.
Meanwhile, Louder kept on his tempo, using his knowledge of the mountain and of himself to keep the pace high and slowly reel and pass everyone to make it first to the finish line.
“I was just trying to mark Sevilla. I made the jump to get up to Chadwick, I still felt good so kept it going but the climb is unrelenting, the last 5k seemed like forever, it was just a little too long, by the time that Louder caught me I was already on my limit, he had more in the tank there in the last kilometer.” said Caldwell.
Chadwick came in third place, at 25 seconds behind.
Burke Swindlehurst (Bissell) was fourth; Chris Baldwin (Toyota-United) was fifth
The race now comes down to a short time-trial, where teammates are of no use, man against man, Louder vs Caldwell, Caldwell vs Louder. We’ll know tomorrow.
BMC’s Scott Nydam who crashed and broke his collarbone was providing some insight on the finish line with the announcers, and he informed us that he’d already had his operation.
More photos here