Garmin-Sharp nails Tour of Utah team time trial, Vande Velde takes race lead
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Garmin-Sharp nails Tour of Utah team time trial, Vande Velde takes race lead

by Kyle Moore at 6:16 PM EST   comments
Categories: Pro Cycling, Race Reports and Results
Leipheimer loses big time with shorthanded team

Garmin-SharpChristian Vande Velde (Garmin-Sharp) took the race leader’s jersey from stage one winner Rory Sutherland (UnitedHealthcare) as Garmin-Sharp grabbed another team time trial, this time in stage two of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.

Vande Velde was his squad’s best finisher on Tuesday, earning the yellow jersey on the podium at Miller Motorsports Park. Rabobank finished second, and Radioshack-Nissan was third. Bissell was best of the continental squads, finishing fourth.

The Tour of Utah’s defending champion Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-Quick Step) took a staggering two-minute time loss over the 21km course. Having brought only six riders to the race, Leipheimer’s Belgian squad was quickly down one man, with the necessary five left to fight alone to the finish. On the back of its reduced train was a 23-year-old staggaire, who struggled with the pace and required his team-mates to sit up continually. Omega Pharma-Quick Step finished in last place, 2’03” behind Garmin-Sharp.

Vande Velde has been the consummate team-mate during the 2012 season, with few of his own results to show for it. In the mountains of the Giro d'Italia, he was a valued lieutenant to Ryder Hesjedal on his way to the overall win. He was one of the few survivors of Garmin-Sharp's incredibly unlucky Tour de France, grabbing second on stage 15 behind Pierrick Fedrigo (FDJ-BigMat).

"The team was great today," Vande Velde stated afterward. "We were motivated as usual and knew that this was a great opportunity to take time out of our rivals and we did just that. It’s great to be back here in the states and showing the colours of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda."

It is a unique team time trial course offered up in Utah, as riders take three laps around the 7km Miller Motorsports Park circuit. The stage often features hot temperatures and strong winds, and stage two on Wednesday was no different. With some teams a bit raw in the team time trial discipline and others running short of the eight-man allotment, the stage would be decisive in spite of just 21km of racing.

Adding another element of difficulty, the Miller Motorsports Park presents a winding circuit, suiting the most drilled pace lines while punishing the inexperienced ones.

Argos-Shimano was the first team off, with a full compliment of riders but shedding them regularly from the start. Teams took to the course three at a time, completing their circuits before three more set off. Omega Pharma-Quick Step and Champion System got early starts as well.

For Leipheimer, a third Tour of Utah title would be put further from his reach. Entering the race with only six men, the Belgian squad lost sprinter Francesco Chicci early. The team was forced to rely on staggaire Jeroen Hoorne to hang on, but the young Belgian struggled. On multiple occasions over the final two laps, team management had to wave down Leipheimer, the Velits brothers, and Matt Brammier to slow up and wait for Hoorne.

Leipheimer’s team consistently lost time to Argos-Shimano and Champion System, with the big teams yet to go. Argos-Shimano set the early time to beat at 24’25”, with Liquigas-Cannondale, Exergy, and NetApp the next to go.

The German squad would be the surprise early on, besting Argos-Shimano on all three laps and coming home in 23’45”. Perhaps after watching some teams suffer early, Team Exergy set off conservatively, actually setting the slowest time after one lap. But the American continental squad began to crank it up after that, eventually crossing second behind NetApp until Liquigas-Cannondale bested them moments later.

Rabobank headlined the third wave of teams to start, along with the Colombian team EPM-UNE and Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies. The Dutch WorldTour squad showed its class, trumping NetApp at all the checks and finishing in 23’08”, setting the new mark to beat by 37 seconds. Optum-Kelly Benefit strategies, with strongmen Scott Zwizanski and Michael Creed, then hit the line second, 30 seconds behind Rabobank.

As Competitive Cyclist and Bissell took their turn, Garmin-Sharp followed with high expectations, likely hoping to take advantage of the struggles of Leipheimer’s squad. While the two smaller American teams turned in their first laps in the middle of the pack, the American ProTour outfit performed another sterling team time trial, going quicker than Rabobank at all time checks and stopping the watch in 22’35”, more than half a minute quicker than the previous leader.

Bontrager-Livestrong, Radioshack-Nissan, and Spidertech-C10 were the final full set of teams to take to the course, before BMC Racing and UnitedHealthcare headed out last. Chris Horner’s Radioshack-Nissan squad had a modified game plan, expending three to four riders early before exposing their top five to the wind for the first time. The end result was a 37-second deficit to Garmin-Sharp – not race breaking, but a disadvantage that will likely send Horner on the attack.

Last up were BMC Racing and UnitedHealthcare, who marked each other closely throughout the 21 kilometres. Sutherland took long pulls as the finish line neared, leading his squad to a fifth place finish. BMC Racing was sixth.

Garmin-Sharp and Vande Velde assume the race lead on stage three Thursday, spanning 137 rolling kilometres.

2012 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah Stage Two Results:

Garmin-Sharp 22’35”
Rabobank at 32 secs
Radioshack-Nissan at 37 secs
Bissell at 50 secs
UnitedHealthcare at 52 secs
BMC Racing at 58 secs
Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies at 1 minute 2 secs
Competitive Cyclist at 1 minute 5 secs
Bontrager-Livestrong at 1 minute 7 secs
NetApp at 1 minute 10 secs
Spidertech-C10 at 1 minute 16 secs
Liquigas-Cannondale at 1 minute 31 secs
Exergy at 1 minute 39 secs
Argos-Shimano at 1 minute 50 secs
Champion System at 1 minute 54 secs
EPM-UNE at 1 minute 58 secs
Omega Pharma-Quick Step at 2 minutes 3 secs


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