Eric Young took an emphatic win in stage four of the Tour of Utah. The Orange & Black sprinter surged past the field on a technical uphill finish in Soldier’s Hollow and unleashed a powerful kick to take his second Tour of Utah stage win by several bike lengths.
Known for his flat land speed, Young won stage five in Utah last year in a drag race at Miller Motorsports Park. Stage four’s closing kilometers were completely different – a category two climb and descent earlier in the race led into a multi-tiered, winding 1.5 km climb into Soldier’s Hollow, a serious challenge for the sprinters.
“This is a huge victory for the team and a bit of a relief for us, but I am mostly just impressed with the way he did it,” said Performance Director Jonas Carney. “That was a really tough finish for a pure sprinter and he basically destroyed everyone – perhaps we should stop thinking of him as just a pure sprinter!”
Some bad luck and great performances by other domestic teams in stages one through three denied Young a real shot at the podium. Stage four’s finish was the last chance for the Orange & Black leadout.
“Our plan today was to go all in for the sprint with Eric,” said Carney. “Stage one and two were disappointing, and he was really fired up. I was a little worried that the finish would be too hard, as the last 1.5 km was uphill. Eric is riding better than we’ve ever seen him ride, especially on the climbs, and he wanted this win bad. The team was 100% behind him and he delivered big time.”
Young used teamwork and smart tactics in the race’s key moment to get a jump on his competition. The narrow, winding finishing straight provided minimal sight lines and plenty of opportunity for a surprise attack. With a fast three-man leadout for BMC Racing Team secured at the front of the race, Young saw a small window of opportunity, and pounced.
“I knew the finish was shorter than some guys thought,” said Young. “So my goal was to sprint early and catch some people off guard. BMC had 3 guys on the front going fast, but they hadn’t really started sprinting yet. I think I surprised some guys and got a jump on them. Which worked!”
Young thanked his teammates for the golden opportunity to use his afterburners once again at the Tour of Utah.
“Phil Gaimon, Jesse Anthony, and Pierrick Naud did a great job moving me up when I needed it. The last corner was wide enough for me to take a fast outside line and pass a few guys. The final straight away was just about putting my head down and sprinting as hard as I could. I wasn’t sure I could hold it to the line, but luckily I was able to.”
The Orange & Black will celebrate their stage win and shift their focus firmly towards Gaimon and Woods’ overall aspirations. The mountains await!
Photos © Casey B. Gibson