North Logan • Italian Umberto Marengo of Neri Sottoli-Selle Italia-KTM accelerated away from a six-rider group in a surprise attack to win Tuesday’s Stage 1 of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Marengo covered the 87-mile course in 3 hours and 23 minutes.
The USA’s Lawson Craddock of EF Education First finished second, with the same time as Marengo. A time bonus vaulted the American into the overall leader’s yellow jersey.
Colombia’s Edwin Avila of Israel Cycling Academy finished third close behind Craddock’s wheel.
“The team worked perfectly. We had Manuel Bongiorno in the breakaway so no one had to work until the final laps. When Bongiorno had a flat tire, the team moved forwards,” Marengo commented via a team translator. “On the last lap, I and [Sebastian] Schönberger decided to attack. Schönberger was not as fast as me so Schönberger worked for me, and started to anticipate with three K (kilometers) to go. At the end, this was the perfect move because I could launch my sprint and win.”
Fans in North Logan were treated to a thrilling five finishing circuits of action-packed racing.
Canadian James Piccoli of Elevate-KHS Pro Cycling, who won the Prologue on Monday’s first day of racing, suffered a flat tire on the penultimate lap forcing him to chase back onto the surging peloton. Taking full advantage of the chaos, Craddock initiated a counter-attack just as Piccoli had rejoined the peloton.
“Everyone was on the limit. Alex (Howes) made a really good call. He noticed that there was a small riser with three and a half, four [kilometers] to go in the middle of the descent that would be a good place to launch an attack,” Craddock said of his attack on the final circuit. “I kind of went from there. I was able to get some speed, get a gap and from there, there was five or six of us and the race played out,”
In the General Classification, Craddock has a six-second lead over João Almeida of Hagens Berman Axeon, who was fourth on the stage. Remaining in third place on the G.C. is Serghei Tvetcov of Worthy Pro Cycling, 12 seconds down. Moving into sixth place is Joe Dombrowski (USA) of EF Education First, the overall winner of the 2015 Tour of Utah, who is 21 seconds back. Piccoli is now 26 seconds back and sits in 13th position.
In addition to his stage win, Marengo also claimed the Sprint jersey. Almeida retained the Best Young Rider jersey. Samuel Boardman (USA) of Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling presented by Maxxis will wear the King of the Mountain jersey. The Fan Favorite jersey was awarded to Maxx Chance (USA) of Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling, winning in the Best Ambassador category.
Stage 2 presented by Monster Hydro brings a wild west showdown to the 8,900-foot summit of Powder Mountain on Wednesday. The massive ascent from the town of Eden to Hidden Lake Lodge at Powder Mountain Resort is one of the steepest roads in Utah, with gradients rising to 16 percent. The 8.6-mile scale will pack a punch to the legs and lungs of the best climbers in the world.