It came down to seconds in the race of truth between Blake Caldwell (Garmin-Chipotle) and Jeff Louder (BMC). The yellow jersey has been worn by a Garmin rider since the first stage with the Jason Donald victory and then switched to Caldwell’s shoulders after the second stage. Louder put in a big attack to win the Queen stage to move himself to second spot on GC, 7 seconds back before the final stage.
Louder put in a great TT ride to pull out the overall win at his home tour in Utah in front of friends and family, putting in a time that was 16 seconds faster to win “America’s Toughest Stage Race” by a scant 9 seconds.
“Caldwell rode an amazing race, the whole thing, he’s on another level, that definitely made me very nervous and I really had to concentrate on remembering that I know how to do this, just use my form, the equipment, the BMC bike is just so fast, it’s really made a difference for me, as funny as that sounds, you’ve got to pedal the bike but the bike definitely moves you as well. This team is supplied with the best possible gear, the sponsors and everybody. That helped me a lot, just knowing that I had the best gear and good form from yesterday. I thought about the feeling on the podium last night when I was digging deep about 2K from here, starting to remember that, wanting to get that feeling back today, that definitely motivating me.” said Louder
“It was kind of cool. I liked the technical turns, you had to be attentive, you know we keep our heads down, trying to be the most aero and then, a turn sneaks up on you like it did, I missed one of these turns, I just about went off the road but all in all it was a clean run.” said Zirbel about the 7.5-mile (12 km) course at the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah.
What a comeback for Brent Bookwalter (BMC) who broke his femur las year. He was the only other rider to break the 14-minute barrier and finished in second place, 9 seconds behind Zirbel.
“It’s sort of a comeback race in a sense for me, this whole year has been a comeback after the injury last year. I started to get some good form in Cascade, the team really started kicking and we have the same squad here, it’s a good week for us.” said Bookwalter.
White was an active participant in the breakaways in the other road races, and gobbled points during the intermediate sprints to win the jersey overall.
Chadwick won the right to wear the polka-dots after being on the break in the second stage and kept on wearing them until the end.
The BMC team also won the overall team classification ahead of the Gamin-Chipotle and Team Type 1 squads.
“We were optimistic that he could pull this off, it was really a great effort by the team all week that brought him to this day as fresh as he was. Obviously he had to put in a big effort yesterday, but that was the first time he had to put in, that really had to dig deep
to take time. I think the race played out like we would have liked, we were two early so we didn’t want to have to defend the jersey if we didn’t have to, we played that way until the big Queen stage, we would have liked to have taken the jersey there since there is no extra work defending on the time trial day that we were confident we were close coming into today and I feel with the exception of Scott Nydam, we really had no bad luck this week. The guys raced well, they prepared well and I’m really pleased that it all worked out for them.” said BMC DS Gavin Chilcott.
On a personal note, I’d like to thank Utah natives Burke & Jeff for patiently answering all my questions. And thank you to the best media car driver ever, Leon.