The opening stage of the 2015 Tour of Utah was a monster, with rain soaking every inch of a mountainous 132 mile circuit centered in Logan. A breakaway caught on slick closing circuits and the subseuquent scramble to the finish determined eventual winner Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthcare), who claiming the victory from a disjointed five-man dash to the line. Young finished sixth in the stage, first from a field sprint behind the five top finishers. It left the team wondering what could have been after quite possibly hardest Utah opener in race history.
Performance Director Jonas Carney shared his thoughts on a chaotic day for the Orange & Black.
“Our plan was to go all in for a field Sprint and lead out Eric Young. We did not want to be in the breakaway, but we could not allow anything too dangerous get away. The break ended up being 7 guys, but with no Trek, Cannondale, BMC, Drapac, or UHC riders in there, thing seemed under control.
The first half of the race was boring – not much happening on the road. Then chaos ensued for the team. The guys were all together when Huff hit a huge pothole and went down, taking Soladay and Young with him. We got Young and Huff back on their bikes and back to the field, but we were completely unaware that Tom was in the ditch. We heard from a motorcycle that Tom was back there. Eventually he got back to the field, but the team was banged up.
On the final climb of the day, Huff and Soladay were suffering from their crashes, came off the back and would not catch back up. On the 30 mile slight downhill run into town, the Drapac and UHC chase was begnning to run out of gas, and it looked like they might not catch the break, so we added Jesse and Zwiz into the chase, other teams started to share the work and the the gap came down significantly.
Entering the circuit, the gap to the breakaway was down to 25 seconds and it was all but caught. Three guys jumped from the field at about 6 km to go and caught the remnants of the break. After 130 miles in the rain, there were a lot of tired legs. It was a well timed attack, and none of the sprinter’s teams had enough strength to chase. 5 guys made it to the line with less than 5 seconds on the field, and Young won the field sprint to take 6th.
It was one of the most stressful days we’ve had in a long time – multiple crashes, punctures, and bike changes. Young needed a bike change inside 15k to go and had to chase. Phil Gaimon flatted on the finish circuits, but was given pack time as it was inside 3k to go. Even with all the bad luck, we still had a chance at winning the race. The guys survived a brutal day, and maybe later this week our luck will improve and we can have another shot at a stage win.”