Stage three from Antelope Island to Bountiful didn’t have the extreme verticality necessary to shake up the overall standings (that comes in stages 6 and 7), but it had enough to make for a wild, fun race. With a small breakaway up the road, the two categorized climbs and temperatures in the nineties on the road to Bountiful sifted through the race, claiming a majority of the riders.
The roughly 50 riders who stayed on pace in the lead group, including Mike Woods and Phil Gaimon, caught the disintegrated breakaway just outside of the finishing circuits in Bountiful, where 3000 American flags lined the course and the race to the finish truly began.
The main feature of the circuit was a climb up the mountain bench outside Bountiful reaching a 15% grade. It was the final dose of punishment and a launching pad for the few riders with enough energy left to contest the stage. Woods and Gaimon, the Orange & Black’s dual threat on the overall standings in Utah, attacked and countered on the slope, hoping to avoid an unfavorable bunch sprint. Just :14 seconds down on the overall standings, it was the first time the pair have tested their legs uphill in Utah. The results were promising – their attacks didn’t stick in the end, but they were powerful enough to raise a small alarm for chasers.
“I wanted to try and get a gap and go for the stage win,” Woods told CyclingNews. “’It was fun to mix it up finally and test the legs a little bit. I’m feeling really good.”
The two climbers seem to be developing a unique chemistry – Gaimon sets hard paces on longer, grinding climbs. Woods, with a mile runner’s endurance capacity, is built for the steepest sections of road. It was a lethal combination at this year’s Redlands Bicycle Classic, when the duo finished 1-2 on a steep Oak Glen mountaintop finish; they will test this formula again in the Little Cottonwood Canyon and Park City stages this weekend.