Robert Britton rode about 30 feet past the finish line, then slowed to a stop. He leaned over his bike and exhaled, secure in the knowledge he was the newest champion of the Tour of Utah.
Britton first claimed the yellow jersey after the time trial in Stage 3 on Wednesday, a climb up Big Cottonwood Canyon. After that day, there was no taking the yellow jersey off Britton’s back.
“This race was won with legs,” said Neilsen Powless, who won Best Young Rider award. “I think the strongest guy here won.”
The whole week, Britton’s mindset was about staying confident. However, he admitted it wasn’t just about him, but about the support of his Rally Cycling teammates.
“This group of guys has been together pretty much every race this year,” Britton said. “We know each other really well, we’ve all ridden for each other one way or another all year, so we are very tight-knit and I have a lot of confidence in them, [and] they have a lot of confidence in me.”
The key for the team’s success in the Tour was helped by changes in the lineup, including the addition of Sepp Kuss, who finished ninth overall.
“Everyone just clicked,” said Britton. “The biggest difference has been the work ethic and the mentality … that’s pretty special to have everyone one board to have everyone all in for one goal.”
This is Britton’s first overall win at the Tour of Utah; he finished fifth last year. The win puts the entire team in good position as they transition into a pro-continental team.
“It means a lot to me,” said Britton. “And I think to the team it shows that we are more than capable of being pro-continental. This year has been phenomenal — I think we’ve had success at every race we’ve gone to. Personally, this is pretty sweet.”
UnitedHealthcare rider Gavin Mannion finished second overall, and Serghei Tvetcov of Jelly Belly Cycling finished third. Marco Canola claimed the final stage of the Tour, making a push up of the final climb up Capital Hill to claim victory and give his Nippo-Vini Fanitini team a stage win.
“It was not easy, it is never easy,” Canola said. “I had legs. I knew that so I just tried to stay in the bunch and my teammates covered the attacks well. We did what our plan was and everything went well in the end. This was the perfect stage to finish with my power. I am really good in uphill finishes so it was our goal to get the win today.”
Tour of Utah results<br>Overall<br>1. Robert Britton, Rally Cycling, 22:48:03.<br>2. Gavin Mannion, UnitedHealthCare, 22:48:25.<br>3. Serghei Tvetcov, Jelly Belly, 22:48:35.<br>4. Neilson Powless, Axeon Hagens Berman, 22:48:38.<br>5. Brent Bookwalter, BMC Racing, 22:50.03.<br>Stage 7<br>1. Marco Canola, Nippo-Vini Fantini, 2:40:18.<br>2. Brent Bookwalter, BMC Racing, 2:40:20.<br>3. Gavin Mannion, UnitedHealthcare, 2:40:20.<br>4. Patrick Mueller, BMC Racing Team, 2:40:20.<br>5. Simone Andreetta, Bardiani CSF, 2:40:20.