(June 28 - Park City UT) The 2011 Tour Of Utah formally kicked off today with the announcement of the official race route. Using the principle of host cities this years tour is focused more on circuit style racing than long point to point stages. The host venues are Utah Olympic Park, Ogden, Provo, Miller Motor Sports Park, Salt Lake City Snow Bird Resort and Park City. A circuit race in Salt Lake City replaces the Park City criterium this year because the 2011 edition of the Tour is rated UCI 2.1, and there can be no criterium by UCI regulation.
The initial test for the riders, a Prologue Time Trial at Utah Olympic Park, gains 157 meters over 2km, as it climbs from the Alf Engen museum to the top of the 90 meter ski jumping hill. The route winds around the perimeter of the bobsled and luge tracks at Utah Olympic Park. Not long enough nor steep enough to be a true climbing time trial, the route will still create enough separation to create an interesting GC battle over the ensuing 5 stages. The park is located north of Park City Ut.
Following a brief press conference at Utah Olympic Park, Local pro Evan Hyde rode the prologue course and afterward offered some insight. His feeling is that a pure climber will not win this prologue. Instead it's best suited to a power rider who can put out a solid 5 minute effort. Realcyclist Professional Cycling Team, sponsored by a division of local outdoor retailer Backcounrty.com is focused on returning Francisco Macebo to the Tour Of Utah Podium. Mancebo won the race in 2009 while riding for now defunct Rock Racing.
At 187 k the longest day of racing is Stage 1 in Ogden Utah. Starting and ending in Ogden's Historic Old Town district, the race will make three circuits of an approximately 62 km loop. The route takes riders up The North Ogden Pass, around Pineview Reservoir, and descends twisty Ogden Canyon as it returns to the starting point. The stage is expected to run nearly 5 hours. While the finish is flat, with 2500 meters of climbing, the winner in Ogden will likely come out of an elite group that manage to separate themselves from the rest of the peloton.
With only 850 meters of rolling hills, the Provo Road Race may be the only flat stage of the entire race. At 161 km the second stage will take the race around Utah Lake in a counter clockwise direction. The outcome of this stage can be determined by wind. Expect to see the strong teams use this to their advantage and watch to see who misses the move when the road turns east and the cross winds start. After circumnavigating Utah Lake the route turns back north and finishes up in Provo. This is the stage most likely to end in a true sprint.
The rolling pavement of the Miller Groups road race venue is the perennial home to the Tour Of Utah time trail. For a fourth year the Stage 3 Individual Time Trial will be contested on a 14.5 km, 16 turn layout on the motor course pavement. Past winners at Miller include Levi Liephiemer (The Shack) and Jeff Louder (BMC)
New for 2011 Stage 4, an 11 lap race has been designed to run through the historic Capitol District. With 2200 meters elevation gain (and loss) the 131 km stage runs from the State Capitol, through the Avenues section of Salt Lake City to the University of Utah on the east bench. A flat run west on South Temple returns the riders to a sharp ramp up State Street to the capitol.
The return of the Queen. The 2011 Tour Of Utah Finale is unchanged from past editions. Beginning in Park City the route heads east past Jordanelle Reservoir. Passing through the Kamas Valley the route turns west and heads thought the Heber Valley to Midway. Passing Deer Creek Reservoir the route pitched steeply up the narrow winding road to the top of the Alpine Loop below Mt. Timpanogos, near the Sundance resort. An high speed decent of American Fork Canyon back to the valley floor on the west side of the Wasatch Range leads the racers to the Transverse Range at Suncrest. Another short downhill run into the south valley at Draper, sets up a gradual ascent to the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon. A 900 meter climb in 5 km, at grades of 8-12%, concludes a long week in the saddle for the race winner. Past editions of the race have been won and lost on the narrow road little Cottonwood Canyon. The day concludes at Snow Bird Resort after 161 km and 3300 meters of climbing. In all at the end of the five days the winner of the 2011 Tour Of Utah will have completed nearly 8000 meters of climbing and ridden close to 650 km in northern Utah.
Full race details are posted at the Tour Of Utah website: http://www.tourofutah.com/