BMC’s Brent Bookwalter booked it at the opening act of the Larry H Miller Tour of Utah, clocking the fastest time of six minutes and twelve seconds in the 4.5 km (2.8 mi) prologue held at the State Capitol in Salt Lake City, Utah. Current US Time Trial Champion David Zabriskie (Garmin-Slipstream) was second at two seconds with BMC’s Ian McKissick in third place also at two seconds. Zabriskie beat McKissick by four hundreds of a second.
“It’s probably the most selective course in the USA and no doubt it would be a huge challenge for any team to control, but definitely starting it off with a win is great for the team, it’s great for me. I feel I kind of got a little bit of a monkey off my back with a win in the time trial and we’ll see. We’re ready for it and we’re excited.” said Bookwalter. This is the first national win for Bookwalter since he broke his leg in April 2007.
In his first time trial since the Tour de France, Zabriskie was satisfied with his result considering how he felt during the six minutes out there. “Usually when they are so many thoughts going through your head, it’s like ‘oh man, I’m getting spanked right now’. I just forgot that it hurst everybody, it didn’t turn out as bad as I thought it was going to be turn out.”
McKissick was not surprised to see that the BMC team placed four riders in the top ten with defending champ Jeff Louder in fifth place followed by Chris Barton. “We’ve all been training together for the past couple of weeks and all of us are riding really well, I expected to do really well.”
With his sixth place finish, 21-year old Barton, who grabbed the Best Young Rider jersey, considers time trials, “one of my strengths, especially short ones, today was perfect I think.”
Not only did the BMC team hold a altitude training camp at Alta prior to the race but Bookwalter also spent the last month living with Louder in preparation, so much so that he was familiar with part of the prologue course. “We call part of this, the Louder Loop, it’s a common recovery ride we do, we’ve been over here a lot, checking the lay of the land.”
What they and all the other riders didn’t know about was the addition of the start/finish area where the out and back course started off with a 200 meter kicker straight from the gate, went around the canyon with a tricky turnaround and back down with a chicane to the finish line.
“It was a challenging course, the wind was a factor, the road wasn’t super smooth, so that just gives you the feeling like ‘aarrggh, you’re creeping along’. ” said Zabriskie.
“The chicane was scary and I backed off a lot. I maybe could have saved a second but it’s better to be safe. ” said Barton.
That chicane was tricky and brought down Ryan Anderson of the Kelly Benefit Strategies team.
The BMC squad all followed the same strategy. “We were all planning to be really conservative on the way out, just not going too hard on the way out, I think that’s what pretty much all of us did, all of us felt we could go stronger on the way out but that just left us a lot on the way back and I think it worked out to our advantage.” said McKissick.
Bookwalter agreed. “The big time was not over doing it at the start, it’s a short effort, you have to go hard but we are at a little bit of altitude, especially me being at sea level, feather it, feather it, feather it and at the end you hope it’s enough, and it was.”
As has happened at many races this year, the early fast time was set by Ben Jacques-Maynes (BISSELL) as his squad continues its strategy of splitting up their TT specialists with Jacques-Maynes going early and Tom Zirbel late in the stage. The tenth rider out of the gate, Jacques-Maynes clocked 06:15 and then sat on the hot seat for over 6 minutes until Bookwalter crossed the finish line. It was then Bookwalter’s turn to wait for the next 45 riders to finish to see if his time would hold up especially with the big TT guns packing the last 10 of the startlist.
But his time held up, and with his teammates slotting in behind him in the top ten. Jacques-Maynes ultimately placed fourth at 3 seconds back and his teammate Tom Zirbel was tenth at 8 seconds. Rock Racing’s Francisco Mancebo is in fifth spot. Thirteen riders are separated by 10 seconds at the top of the GC going into Wednesday’s 137 km (85 mi) Ogden to Salt Lake City stage.
BMC team is ready to defend. As for the plan? “We’ll see what the boss says. ” said McKissick referring to DS Mike Sayers. “I think that we have a team that is capable of defending and Brent is amazingly strong right now and the same with Jeff. So we have a lot of cards to play and should be there. ” said McKissick.
The battle truly begins on Wednesday.
DZ Nuts? $500 please. Trying to follow the rules as he understood them, Zabriskie wore his ‘Captain America; skinsuit for the prologue and then changed into a different kit, not his usual Garmin-Slipstream jersey for the podium ceremony. “Lucky for me, I have this company that I can wear this attire, DZ Nuts.” For his efforts, Zabriskie was fined $500 for ‘Non-regulation advertising (at awards)’ according to the communique. Nuts!
Zabriskie doesn’t seemed concerned by he fact that he is racing solo. “If you were going to pick a race to be without team mates, it would be one of those races. There are not so many large valleys where you’re going to need a full team chasing at the front. A lot of mountain top stages, we’ll how it goes.”
Complete results here.
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