Stage 2 of the Tour of Utah was shorter with a flat, fast start and one massive climb and descent over Mount Nebo. We knew going into the race that it would mix things up and it did just that.
We worked well together as a team to control the early moves. I can already see our young guys learning what to do, and we were always in good position before we finally agreed to let a group go up the road.
After that, it was a long but relatively high-speed trip down a highway frontage road that traversed the desert and also some nasty smoky air from the nearby wildfires.
We went into the climb in great position, and the pace at the bottom became very stiff with immediate attacks. Knowing the altitude would continue to play a role, we stayed together with Joey setting a strong tempo through the initial steep pitches.
A few kilometers later, the group was getting whittled down after some more serious GC attacks with one of them being eventual stage winner Sepp Kuss.
Joey kept them on a good leash grinding away in the headwind but Tejay saw a moment to try to bridge and went for it. Unfortunately, he couldn’t quite get up to them and the process put Joey and I into some difficulty. Hindsight is 20/20, and I think Tejay is still feeling out his form coming off the TDF.
I battled back to Tejay’s group and immediately began chasing with everything I had knowing it would be a long 45 kilometers and knew no one would help Tejay and I even if it meant losing their own chances to win the stage and lose time in the overall.
It’s been a while since I mounted such a long and intense chase, but I was inspired to give everything I had to limit our losses if we couldn’t bring back an exceptional Kuss.
Looking back, EF was very strong, and I feel if we had worked together instead of racing against each other that we would have had a shot at the stage win. But every team has to ride their own race and stick to their own plan. Although losing the jersey stings, I’m encouraged that I was able to put in a strong performance and feature in the heat of the action. Historically, the race lead changes hands on the climb to Snowbird, and I think we are still within striking distance.
📷 Jonathan Devich/Epic Images