Entering its seventh year in 2011, the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah cycling race has been elevated by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) to one of the top three professional stage races for road cycling in North America. Organizers will invite 15 domestic and international professional cycling teams to participate and increase prize money from $45,000 to $150,000, as part of the UCI sanctioning rules. The six-day event, known as “America’s Toughest Stage Race”, will be held August 9-14, 2011, featuring a prologue and five stages for an estimated 400 miles of racing across traditionally diverse and mountainous terrain.
Steve Miller, president of the Utah Cycling Partnership which owns the Tour of Utah, announced that the event has hired Medalist Sports to manage race operations and logistics for the 2011 race. Medalist Sports will oversee the competition and technical production of the Tour, as well as the development of the local organizing committees in each start and finish venue. Medalist Sports specializes in the production of professional cycling events and mass-participation, fundraising events around the country. The company also is the event management arm for the Amgen Tour of California (May 15-22), USA Cycling Professional Championships (May 28-30) and the Quiznos Pro Challenge (Aug 22-28).
For 2011, the Tour of Utah will be part of the UCI AmericaTour, covering professional cycling events on both the continents of North America and South America. The UCI America Tour includes 34 sanctioned events for professionals in 2011. Tour of Utah and the Quiznos Pro Challenge are the only 2.1-class events in North America. The 2.HC (hors categorie) Amgen Tour of California received the highest rating of the America Tour road calendar.
“It’s really quite an honor to be able to organize and host a race of this caliber and level. This is really big for Utah. Professional cycling provides a unique setting from which we can showcase our beautiful State. It’s great for spectators. It’s great for athletes and it’s particularly great for tourism,” said Miller, who first became involved with the event in 2005 as a sponsor. “We’re very grateful to the fans and sponsors, without whom, this race simply would not be possible. Whereas in years past we’ve been able to attract a handful of the world’s best racers, this year the entire field will be the who’s who of professional cyclists.”
The Tour began in 2004 as a three-day race and was upgraded to a National Racing Calendar event by USA Cycling in 2008. The Tour of Utah is now sanctioned by both USA Cycling, Inc. and the UCI, the international governing body for the sport of cycling.
“Thanks to the support and dedication of the Miller family, local sponsors and staff, The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah has very quickly grown into one of America’s top stage races,” said USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson. “Now, with its placement on the UCI calendar as a category 2.1 stage race, the Tour of Utah will join the ranks of the world’s top cycling events and feature an international field with some of the best professional teams in cycling.”
One of the distinguishing elements in the elevated status of the 2011 Tour of Utah is that organizers are not allowed to include amateur teams and athletes, but are permitted to invite teams and athletes from the sport’s highest level, UCI World Tour, including UCI ProTeams, UCI Professional Continental and domestic Continental Teams. Amateur teams and athletes can only take part in NRC events and lower- rated UCI events, where they are eligible for domestic racing points.
A total of 15 professional teams will be invited to race the Tour of Utah, with organizers extending initial invitations to select UCI ProTeams later this month. Each team is expected to field a team of eight riders, for a total of 120 of some of the world’s best competing across the mountains, buttes and plateaus of Utah, vying for UCI points, award jerseys and cash prizes totaling $150,000. Last year’s race was won by Levi Leipheimer, a member of Team RadioShack (a UCI ProTeam) but racing as an individual with Mellow Johnny’s.
Announcements about confirmed teams and the host venues for each start and finish line will be made in February. The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah continues to be free to all spectators, making professional cycling one of the most unique pro sports in the world today. Official information will be posted at www.tourofutah.com, and race fans are encouraged to follow updates on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.