The outcome of the Tour of Utah’s second stage depended on one thing – the North Ogden Divide canyon road, a short, (under 2 miles) hard climb with an average grade of 9%. Those few miles of pavement turned an otherwise flat route from Trementon to Ogden into a highly selective one – the sprinters would have to suffer and navigate a dangerous descent down the other side if they wanted a shot at the main street finish in Odgen.
The Orange & Black placed Pierrick Naud in the day’s breakaway, but the climb proved too much for the team’s sprinters. Phil Gaimon and Mike Woods finished safely near the back of the lead group, while Jure Kocjan (Team SmartStop) won the bunch sprint. The “real” climbing later this week will begin whittle down the 37 riders matching Gaimon and Woods at :14 back on general classification – look for their position on the overall to begin improving soon.
Performance Director Jonas Carney recounts the day of racing.
“For stage two we were hoping for another field sprint and that Eric Young could make the final selection. The major problem would be Ogden Divide – a steep 3k climb that gains 1000 feet and tops out 30k from the finish.
The plan was to send Pierrick Naud or Brad Huff in the breakaway to get a head start on the climb and hedge our bets. Pierrick did a great job placing himself in the break, but the field never let it have much time – its advantage at the base of the climb was only 1:30, which wasn’t a large enough gap to help him make the front group today.
Eric Young is climbing better than we’ve ever seen him climb, but it still wasn’t enough to make the group. Coming into the final circuits, his group was only 25 seconds behind the lead group that sprinted for the win, but there was not an organized chase and the field was racing hard. It came down to a reduced sprint, and our sprinters just weren’t strong enough today to make that selection.
There’s one more chance for a sprint on Thursday. Gaimon and Woods look strong on the climbs and are still in good shape on the overall standings. While stage three isn’t a pure climbers day, it will be difficult, and we’ll have to stay on our toes.”
Photos © Casey B. Gibson