Tour of Utah: Cadel Evans rolls to dramatic Stage 6 win
Snowbird • When Joey Rosskopf tipped his hand ever-so-slightly, the end result of hundreds of miles changed in a flash. The finish line sat a few hundred meters away, and the 24-year-old was outpacing a cycling legend. But when the last gasp in the 107.2 miles of Stage 6 was a small downhill dip toward Snowbird Ski Resort, the legend made his move.
Cadel Evans saw Rosskopf stand up off his seat to try and garner some extra speed. Rosskopf's move triggered a hard charge by the 37-year-old former Tour de France winner. Evans put his head down and zipped by Rosskopf in the final seconds of the sixth stage of the 2014 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.
"It's a bit strange on a mountain stage to have a downhill finish, but I had a bit of an idea how the finish went," Evans said, "so I knew it was favorable to be coming off a wheel there. I had an idea of what was the right thing to do and it seems my ideal was successful."
The BMC Racing Team star beat Rosskopf by three seconds Saturday afternoon atop Little Cottonwood Canyon. Finishing third on the podium with Evans and Rosskopf, of Hincapie Sportswear Development Team, was Riccardo Zoidl of Trek Factory Racing. Defending Tour of Utah champion Tom Danielson of Team Garmin-Sharp remains the overall leader for the third consecutive day heading into Sunday's seventh and final stage of this year's Tour.
How the yellow jersey is properly handled Sunday in Park City remains up in the air, but Saturday was about the climbs along both the Wasatch Front and the Wasatch Back. Dubbed the Tour's Queen's Stage, No. 6 featured 12,643 feet of elevation gain, including 7,000 feet of climbing in the final 35 miles. As various riders traded off partaking in several breakaways along the stage, it was Evans, Rosskopf, Zoidl and Lucas Euser of UnitedHealthCare Pro Cycling who formed a foursome headed up Little Cottonwood.
The yellow jersey group featuring Danielson and second-place Chris Horner wasn't too far behind, but never really posed a significant threat outside of a few minor time gains. Which left the work up to the Rosskopf, who powered out of the break with less than a mile to go. The last seven miles up Little Cottonwood featured 2,424 feet of climbing at a 7.5 percent gradient. It was a brutal climb that eventually dispatched of Euser and Zoidl, leaving Evans and Rosskopf battling it out.
"Normally people don't even let me go in the breakaway," Evans joked, after winning in 4 hours, 34 minutes, 31 seconds. "This is the second time I've been in the breakaway since I've been with BMC Â that's five years now."
Which was quite unfortunate for Rosskopf.
With his jersey unzipped and gritting his teeth up the final climb before the soft descent into the finish at Snowbird, Rosskopf started believing.
"I actually thought I might have [Evans]," he said. "I could see the driveway to turn toward the finish and he'd been lagging on accelerations, but obviously he knew exactly what he was doing."
To no one's surprise.
Evans, the 2011 Tour de France winner, riding in Utah for the first time ever, said long, arduous stages fit his racing style best. That's the definition of Stage 6 and he rolled on by the finish line, giving a thumbs-up to the crowd.
"I kept things under control for the most part," he said.
Stage 6 results
Salt Lake City to Snowbird • 107.2 miles
1. Cadel Evans (Australia), BMC Racing Team, 4 hours, 34 minutes, 31 seconds
2. Joey Rosskopf (U.S.), Hincapie Sportswear Development Team, +:03
3. Riccardo Zoidl (Netherlands), Trek Factory Racing, +:07
4. Wilco Kelderman (Netherlands), Belkin-Pro Cycling Team, +:07
5. Chris Horner, (U.S.), Lampre-Merida, +:14
6. Tom Danielson (U.S.), Team Garmin-Sharp, +:14
7. Winner Anacona (Colombia), Lampre-Merida, +:19
8. Lucas Euser (U.S.), UnitedHealthCare Pro Cycling, +:35
9. Carter Jones (U.S.), Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies, +:35
10. Ben Hermans (Belgium), BMC Racing Team, +:43
General classification through Stage 6
1. Tom Danielson (U.S.), Team Garmin-Sharp, 27.07'07" (+57)
2. Chris Horner, (U.S.), Lampre-Merida, 27.08'04"
3. Ben Hermans (Belgium), BMC Racing Team, 27.08'33"
4. Winner Anacona (Colombia), Lampre-Merida, 27.08'59"
5. Wilco Kelderman (Netherlands), Belkin-Pro Cycling Team, 27.09'07"
6. Cadel Evans (Australia), BMC Racing Team, 27.09'36"
7. Carter Jones (U.S.), Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies, 27.09'59"
8. Alex Diniz (Brazil), Funvic Brasilinvest-Sao Jose, 27.10'35"
9. George Bennett (New Zealand), Cannondale, 27.10'47"
10. Matthew Busche (U.S.), Trek Factory Racing, 27.11'17"
Tour of Utah Stage 7 preview
O Park City to Park City
Start • Sunday, 12:20 p.m.
Distance • 78 miles
Elevation gain • 7,633 feet
TV • 6 p.m. (tape), ROOT Sports