Tour of Utah: Leipheimer, Horner, Voigt, Velits, Duggan, Frank, Butler and Lewis part of strong line-up
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Monday, August 6, 2012

Tour of Utah: Leipheimer, Horner, Voigt, Velits, Duggan, Frank, Butler and Lewis part of strong line-up

by Shane Stokes at 1:32 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling
Tough US race begins tomorrow in Ogden

Levi LeipheimerWanting to bounce back from a low-key Tour de France, defending Tour of Utah champion Levi Leipheimer heads one of five teams which have announced their selections for the upcoming race.

The 2.1-ranked contest begins tomorrow and Leipheimer has laid out clear intentions to ride as strongly as possible in it and another major US event. “I'm looking forward to defending my titles at the Tour of Utah and the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado,” he stated. “As an American rider, it's always a special experience to race in front of a home crowd and these two races have quickly become world class, with beautiful demanding courses and enthusiastic fans.”

He will be backed by a strong Omega Pharma-Quick Step selection, including fellow Tour riders Peter and Martin Velits, plus triple Irish road race champion Matt Brammeier, the sprinter Francesco Chicchi and the stagiaire Jeroen Hoorne.

The latter earned a trial with the squad after he won the Tour du Piémont Vosgien this year and placed well in the the Flèche Ardennaise and the Circuit de Wallonie.

Brian Holm will guide the team and is clear about the scale of the task. “The race is very challenging. Already on the first day it will be important to stay concentrated; there are more than 2700 metres of altitude change spread out over 210km of racing,” he said.

“The second day we will face a team time trial which is essential for the classification. Saturday will be the Queen Stage with more than 3000 metres of altitude change and a high altitude arrival at Snowbird Ski. We’ll also have to suffer on the last day with a short but very tense stage.”

Chris Horner, a rider who has had many tussles with Leipheimer on US soil in the past, will captain the RadioShack-Nissan team in the six-day race.

He will be backed by crowd favourite Jens Voigt, George Bennett, Matthew Busche, Ben King, Joost Posthuma, Thomas Rohregger and Oliver Zaugg.

Another US WorldTour squad, the BMC Racing Team, is going for a multi-pronged approach, with Matthias Frank, the winner of the best Swiss rider classification at the Tour de Suisse, one of the protected riders.

“We're going to try to place Mathias high in the overall and go for some stage wins while also using this race as preparation for Colorado,” said Assistant Director Michael Sayers. The others the team expects to perform strongly are Brent Bookwalter, Ivan Santaromita and Johann Tschopp.

Bookwalter feels the fact that the final stage is so tough will make things more difficult than before. “In previous editions of the race, the queen stage to Snowbird has shown who the strongest guys are,” the American stated. “But this year, having another day after that – which is even more demanding – will for sure shake things up.”

The BMC Racing Team will be completed by two stagiaires, namely the Swiss Mathias Flückiger and the American Larry Warbasse,

Meanwhile after impressive performances on US soil in the Tour of California and then the US national championships, where he took the title, Timmy Duggan will lead the Liquigas-Cannondale team in the race. Compatriot Ted King will be on the team, as will Italians Damiano Caruso, Valerio Agnoli, Paolo Longo Borghini and the stagiaire Marco Benfatto,

Also confirmed is the composition of the Asian Champion System squad, which will field the Americans Chris Butler and Craig Lewis, Australians Will Clarke and Tour of Qinghai Lake runner-up Cameron Wurf, German rider Matthias Friedemann and the Chinese trio Pengda Jiao, Biao Liu and Gang Xu.

“We have a mix of potential stage winners in guys like Will Clarke, Craig Lewis and Chris Butler,” said general manager Ed Beamon. “Certainly Craig and Chris can be in the mix in the overall if the last two stages are as difficult as we think they will be.”

Butler, who checked out each of the stages during a ten day training stint in Utah, believes those stages will be the big deciders.

“Last year, the stage to Snowbird broke the race apart, with more than a minute between first and fifth place and more two minutes for the guys finishing sixth through tenth,” he explained. “It seems like the last stage this year is going to be even tougher than that. So it's going to be a pretty big spread between places, which is good. It's going to come down to those two stages.”

Tour of Utah (2.1):

Stage 1, Aug 7: Ogden, 211 km
Stage 2, Aug 8: Miller Motorsports Park TTT, 21.75 km
Stage 3, Aug 9: Ogden - Salt Lake City, 138 km
Stage 4, Aug 10: Lehi - Salt Lake City, 215.6 km
Stage 5, Aug 11: Park City – Snowbird, 165 km
Stage 6, Aug 12: Park City, 121.3 km


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