Today in Utah, the riders will face a breathtakingly beautiful and brutal stage, the 155 km (96 mi) Queen Stage from Park City to Snowbird. This stage will decide the overall winner of the Larry H Miller Tour of Utah.Will it be Rock Racing’s Francisco Mancebo who is currently leading? Will Utah-native Jeff Louder (BMC) defend his title and win on his mountain again? Will Team Type 1′s Darren Lill, a Utah-resident, do another amazing ride? Will the OUCH duo of Chris Baldwin and Pat McCarty upset the apple cart? Can Phil Zajicek (Fly V Australia) tame another monster? Will Matt Busche (Kelly Benefit) survive to finish in the top 10 of his first stage race as a professional? Will an upstart surprise everyone? All these questions will be answered tomorrow night (Why do I suddenly feel like a TV host…)
Let’s take a closer look at this beast.
The stage kicks off with a few parade laps up historic Main Street in Park City, then heads east across the farmlands of Summit County and will face rollers with a nice little 5% kicker at mile marker 6 with the stunning backdrop of the Jordanelle State Park.
The riders will follow the contour of the reservoir and for 30 miles, flat roads through the Swiss-inspired town of Midway and around the Deer Creek Reservoir.
Another stunning vista for the riders as they await the first major challenge of the stage, the difficult Alpine Loop.
“The scenery there is just stunning, it’s amazing that we get to use that road.” said Louder. “Besides the Snowbird climb, it’s really the signature climb of the whole race because it’s just so beautiful and unique, it’s a cool thing that we get to do it.”
This legendary Utah route ascends through narrow stands of aspen and fir trees, crests a saddle just under the summit of Mt. Timponogas.
“Alpine Loop is a hard climb. It’s a long way to the finish but it sets the stage.” said Louder. “Typically Alpine Loop isn’t going to separate the contenders, it’s definitely tires the winner out of who gets second, it makes a difference, that’s what cool about that climb, it’s long and it’s hard, it’s amazing, it’s a pleasure to race on because it’s so beautiful.”
The riders will then plunge down a twisty, narrow highway – with almost no railings – back into and through suburbia, to go over a “small” bump over Traverse Ridge with a 4 to 5% grade before they have to tackle the final climb to the Snowbird Ski & Summer resort.
At mile marker 88, the riders will make a right turn onto Little Cottonwood Road and will be faced with the 7.5-mile climb to the finish with 8 to 12 gradients.
“The first two thirds of that climb is extremely relentless, there’s really no, it doesn’t really ever let up and the road is pretty straight, you can see a long way a lot of the time. It has a lot of Ventoux in it, it reminds me of that, the sort of climb that doesn’t seem to let up or ever give you a break, it’s as much a mental battle as a physical one and it’s a great finale. ”
This beautiful and brutal stage will decide the overall winner of ‘America’s Toughest Race’.
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