A solo attack up Little Cottonwood Canyon launched BMC Racing Team’s Johann Tschopp of Switzerland to victory today at Stage Five presented by Exergy Development Group of the 2012 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. By hitting the finish line in four hours, 18 minutes and 20 seconds on the Queen Stage, the Swiss rider leaped from 14th on general classification to the overall race lead.
Team NetApp’s Leopold Koenig (Czech Republic) pulled away from a chase group over the final kilometer to finish second, 43 seconds behind Tschopp. American Joe Dombrowski of Bontrager Livestrong placed third, just 47 seconds back.
Tschopp’s victory shook up the general classification as he supplanted Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda’s Christian Vande Velde (USA), who now sits in second on G.C., 38 seconds off the pace. RadioShack-Nissan-Trek’s Matthew Busche (USA) is third on G.C., 43 seconds back. Koenig and Dombrowski round out the top five, at 53 and 58 seconds back, respectively.
“For us, it’s very important that we were able to win the stage and especially to be able to take the jersey (Larry H. Miller Dealerships Overall Leader’s jersey). It’s a great victory for the BMC Racing Team. And for me, it’s a special moment, it is the first time that I wear the leader’s jersey in a stage race,” Tschopp, who speaks French, said through an interpreter. “I prepared very well for the Tour of Utah, it’s a race that is well suited for me with its beautiful roads, a lot of mountains and mountains that suit me. It is somewhat similar to Valais in Switzerland, I had fun.”
Dombrowski was part of the four-man chase group that included Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep). This group escaped the peloton and tried to chase Tschopp up Little Cottonwood Canyon. His efforts were rewarded with not only a podium spot for Stage Five presented by Exergy Development Group, but he slipped into the Subaru Best Young Rider jersey.
“Coming into the climb, Garmin was riding with Stetina, and they obviously had multiple options with Vande Velde and Danielson, and it just slowly thinned out,” the 21-year-old said. “It wasn’t anything too punchy, they just dropped one-by-one and then Levi attacked with 5k to go and I followed. That’s when the race was on to the top and it was just a group of four and was attacking all the way until the last (kilometer).”
That group could not track down Tschopp, and the new Tour of Utah G.C. leader was able to enjoy the final few hundred meters en route to wearing the Larry H. Miller Dealerships Overall Leader’s jersey.
Ben Jacques-Maynes of Bissell Pro Cycling went over the top of a pair of mountains quickly enough to earn all the points needed to take control of the Ski Utah King of the Mountains jersey.
“I won the first KOM over Jordanelle and none of the other guys who were up there got any points and at that point it was a bit of defense. I was able to sit back and relax and just watch some guys,” the Californian said. “Timmy Duggan, who was wearing the jersey, he went hard at the top of Alpine Loop and I had to dig deep to hold his wheel on that, but I got the points up there too and just finished the day off pretty well. So I can’t complain and hopefully I’ll be able to wear it tomorrow.”
Spaniard Francisco Mancebo of the Competitive Cyclist Racing Team, the 2009 Tour of Utah champion, launched a solo attack on the Alpine Loop and bridged to the main breakaway group. He finished 20th on the stage, but was awarded the Exergy Development Group Most Aggressive Rider jersey. Jeff Louder, of BMC Racing Team, retained his Miller Lite Best Utah Rider jersey after spending most of the day in the breakaway. Rabobank’s Michael Matthews (Australia) picked up more than enough points to stay in the XO Communications Sprint Leader jersey.
Sunday, August 12 is the final day of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, Stage Six presented by UnitedHealthcare. The decisive stage of the six-day race covers just 76.7 miles (123.5 kilometers), but will be demanding with 6,844 feet (2,086 meters) of climbing over several relentless mountain passes. Huge crowds are expected in downtown Park City, home to several events during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games, which is the official host venue for Sunday’s start and finish lines. After departing Park City at 12:10 p.m. MT, the race travels through Kamas en route to a new Category 2 climb in the Wolf Creek Ranch development. After the XO Communications Sprint Line in Kamas, the racers will encounter the final Ski Utah King of the Mountains climb over Empire Pass Road, which is classified Hors Categorie (most difficult). A rapid descent will bring the race back to Park City for a finish on south Main Street, estimated to finish between 3:15- 3:45 p.m. MT.