Photo Essay | Tour of Utah | Stage 5 | Riding the Front

The Tour of Utah’s penultimate stage was the ultimate test for the Orange & Black. Teamwork and tenacity were the orders of the day. Nervous energy crackled through the team as they prepped for the race, but once the legs started spinning, everything seemed to fall into place. Photos by Casey B. Gibson and Sam Wiebe

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The yellow jersey a blessing first and a curse second. Think of it as a literal target on the back of the team in its possession – it requires a fully committed team to keep the dozens of other riders hungry for yellow at bay. Its kind of the the ring in Lord of the Rings. Without the orcs.

2A0A8030Utah6_815-021 Stage 6 of the 2015 Tour of Utah, Salt Lake City to Snowbird, Utah Utah6_815-067
Stage 6 of the 2015 Tour of Utah, Salt Lake City to Snowbird, Utah

It’s somewhat rare for a continental team like ours to need to ride the front at a 2.HC race like the Tour of Utah on the queen stage. It is an honor, but a difficult one – this was the scene for the first half of the race. Every rider took a turn on the front, keeping the pace high and opportunities for other teams as low as possible.

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The mountains above Park City, reaching nearly 9000 feet above sea level, feel like they are in the clouds. This beautiful scenery is largely missed by a peloton focused on simply turning their legs over, again and again.

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The surface of Guardsman’s Pass was like a hardened lava flow. Some insulting chalk work didn’t make things much easier.

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Best sign ever!

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Storm clouds teased the mountain passes, but thankfully never opened up.

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Brad Huff was an unfortunate casualty of the grueling Salt Lake City Circuit, and was forced to abandon the race. That didn’t stop Huffy from tagging along with the soigneurs to help keep the riders exhausted from riding the front fed and hydrated as they struggled up Little Cottonwood Canyon.

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Its hard to imagine the mind state of a rider suffering up 40 miles of all uphill road, coming after 50 miles of mostly uphill road.

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Soigneur Jose Sousa approaches feeding his riders with the same intensity level as the riders have on the climb. It is another aspect of the teamwork that makes individual success in the sport possible.

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Mike Woods did most of the pacemaking amongst the five riders within range of Dombrowski’s lethal attack in Cottonwood Canyon. The curse of yellow – no one is eager to share the work for someone already leading the race.

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Woods’ endurance capacity was on display once again at the Snowbird summit. He wore a mask of pain as the road finally flattened meters before the finish line.

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