Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Utah Stage 1: Brian Head to Cedar City via Panguitch

Well, we took the long way around, or more accurately up, down, up, and down, to get from Brian Head to Cedar City, but we did eventually make it! There was great potential for an explosive start with the combination of altitude (~10,000ft/3000m) and the first 3-4km being a fairly steep climb, but it turned out everyone was a little too scared to test their legs, or perhaps it was more their lungs? It was funny to see nearly the whole peloton warming up prior to the stage. Normally everyone is relaxing by the bus and taking it easy, but evidently people were a little nervous about the start! I think that is actually why the fireworks didn't happen. In any case, two courageous riders did go away to test their luck on the long stage. They had me worried at one point, and they did get pretty close to the finish, but in the end, the peloton ruled the day again. Things for our team were all good, with the exception of Chris getting a flat on the first of three local finishing laps. Thankfully Hayden was close by to simply give him his bike instead of Chris having to wait for a wheel change. The race was going very fast at that point, so waiting for a wheel change and chasing back on would have been very difficult.

Tomorrow's stage is a long 210km taking us from Panguitch to Torrey, but I'm hoping the scenery will help the time pass a little quicker. We will be passing through some of the most famous Utah red rock country as we ride through the edge of Bryce Canyon National Park, along/through numerous state parks/monuments, "Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, the stretch of Highway 12 known as the “Hogsback,” and the high alpine lakes and streams of Boulder Mountain" (from ToU website). The finish in Torrey is a mere 10 miles from Capital Reef National Monument, as well. There is the potential for the first gc action to happen with the long 14.5mi (23km) climb of Boulder mountain averaging 4.5% cresting only 40 downhill kilometers from the finish. I don't think anything serious is going to happen, but I suspect a smaller group will be coming to the line for the win. Hopefully RSLT will be represented well, and we'll try to snag a stage win!

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