Australian Lachlan Morton of EF Education First outsprinted his breakaway companion at the line to win Stage 5 of the Tour of Utah in a thrilling photo finish at Canyons Village at Park City Mountain.
Morton, who won the 2016 Tour of Utah, scored his fourth career stage win in Utah in a time of 3 hours, 5 minutes and 54 seconds.
Morton made his way into the 11-rider breakaway, which escaped early in the 85.1-mile stage. The steep slopes of Olympic Parkway at Utah Olympic Park are where Morton and Hayden McCormick of Team BridgeLane launched their attack and blazed a trail to the finish line together. In a hard-fought sprint, McCormick took second place by a tire-width difference.
“I’m not normally one to look at the finish, but I had a feeling. So five minutes before the start, I went and rode the last 300 meters,” Morton said about scoping out the uphill finish at Canyons Village at Park City Mountain. “The only chance to come around is in the last 50 (meters). Very perfect timing for me, which I’d love to say that I planned, but sometimes luck falls that way and you get the win.”
The battle for third place was taken by Simone Velascò, who outmaneuvered the chase group which included Stage 4 winner and teammate Marco Canola and Evan Huffman. Velasco crossed the line 18 seconds behind the winner.
“Today I wanted to try and get the KOM jersey, which was the main goal of the day. Obviously, I tried to win the stage. It was a good day, nice to redeem myself a little bit after yesterday,” said McCormick, who claimed the King of the Mountain jersey on Saturday.
Belgian Ben Hermans of Israel Cycling Academy retained his leader’s yellow jersey by finishing safely in 16th place. With little change in the overall standings, Hermans holds a 46-second lead over James Piccoli and a 1 minute, 10 second margin over Nilkas Eg.
Finishing in 14th place, João Almeidamoved up one spot to sixth overall and retained the Best Young Rider jersey. Morton’s teammate and 2015 Tour of Utah champion Joe Dombrowski moved up from sixth to fifth overall.
Stage 5 started and finished in Canyons Village at Park City Mountain.
The breakaway escaped early from the 101-rider field and pushed the gap to over four minutes as it raced past Rockport Reservoir. The move included Morton, Travis McCabe and teammates McCormick and Dylan Sunderland. With less than 10 kilometers to go, Morton countered an attack by Sunderland and only McCormick was able to cover his acceleration.
Stage 6 brings back the overall finish to Park City on Sunday. It is the 10th year Park City has served as a host city, and seventh time it will host the final stage of the Tour. The 78.2-mile route will pass through Kamas and Midway before the final attacks on the unrelenting asphalt of Empire Pass.
A blistering descent down Marsac Avenue leads to the finish along Upper Main Street in Park City.