Today’s stage was the classic finish atop Snowbird with a few changes to the earlier parts of the stage, which actually meant less climbin, but that definitely didn’t it make much easier.
The first hour saw some very aggressive racing. With our reduced squad of five guys, we rode a good race with Joey in a strong break that put Lotto under pressure and forced them to ride. Once Joey came back, Killian got away in a nice counter and proved the strongest in the breakaway as he was the last one caught and earned himself most aggressive honors.
Back in the bunch, I was surprised that EF waited so long to attack and whittle down Lotto, with such a deep team of climbers and three guys positioned to threaten the GC. I expected them to start the hostilities earlier than the base of Snowbird. When they did finally go, the pace was super stiff.
I always struggle on the lower slopes of this climb, baking in the hundred-degree heat with a stiff tailwind. Today was no different. The air quality in Salt Lake was atrocious, and I could feel some asthma symptoms beginning to lock up my lungs. I metered myself back a notch and had some super teamwork pacing from Joey.
Around midway up the climb, I began to recover and set out alone to try and catch the chase group, which was hovering 30 seconds ahead, but being alone and on some of the flatter sections towards the top, I wasn’t able to close it down.
Despite being isolated with no teammates, Sepp Kuss rode away to a stage win. He was on another level and executed a rare jersey defense up the final climb.
I did nudge my way up a few spots in the GC and feel good about my effort, fighting and not giving up.
This race suits the pure climbers more than myself, but I’m pleased to be heading into the final stage still up there and will battle tomorrow as we grind up that nasty Empire climb and bomb into Park City for the finish.
📷: Jonathan Devich