OGDEN — A truly historic year in professional cycling makes a weeklong stop in Utah as the 2012 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah prepares for its highest-profile run.
With the Tour de France in the past and the cycling events at the London Games winding down, a crowded field of top Americans, current and former Olympians and international race squads bring attention to the state for the Tour of Utah, billed as “America’s Toughest Stage Race.”
And Ogden gets a front-row seat.
The UCI 2.1-sanctioned stage race, which will begin on Tuesday in downtown Ogden, will feature athletes from 23 countries this year. Seventeen pro teams will battle for individual and team awards, six different award jerseys and $129,000 in total prize money.
Tonight, all the teams will be introduced to the public at the KJZZ team presentation ceremony at the Ogden City Amphitheater. The free event is set for 7 p.m.
Tuesday, at 10:15 a.m., the six-day event kicks off in Ogden with a 131-mile road race, Stage 1 presented by Zions Bank.
“Cycling fans are going to have a real treat this year, seeing so many Grand Tour veterans and Olympians here in Utah. It’s a great opportunity for the rising stars of U.S. cycling to go head to head with the ProTeam squads. We expect large crowds along all the courses and at our host venues from start to finish. And with live broadcasts on FOX Sports Network and online with Tour Tracker this year, the Tour of Utah will be watched by a worldwide audience,” said Tour of Utah president Steve Miller.
Stage 2 is a team time trial at Miller Motorsports Park; then Stage 3 starts in Ogden on Thursday at 12:10 p.m.
The final stage is Sunday afternoon, starting and ending in Park city.
Among those to compete are three members of Team USA’s road cycling team: Tim Duggan (Liquigas-Cannondale), Tyler Farrar (Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda), and Chris Horner (RadioShack-Nissan-Trek).
Other top American riders confirmed are defending two-time Tour of Utah champion Levi Leipheimer (Omega Pharma-QuickStep) and seven-time national time trial champion Dave Zabriskie (Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda).
Leipheimer, who won the Tour of Utah in 2010 and 2011, attended high school in Salt Lake City. Zabriskie, a Utah native himself, leads U.S.-based Team Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda.
Salt Lake City’s own Jeff Louder, the overall winner at the 2008 Tour of Utah, joins the UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team this time around.
2009 Tour of Utah champion Francisco Mancebo of Spain is also in the field.
Optum Pro Cycling is led by Utahn Reid Mumford and Jesse Anthony, who won last year’s Stage 1 in Ogden.
Other host venues include Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, downtown Salt Lake City, Park City, University of Utah Research Park in Salt Lake City, Park City, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort and Lehi in Utah County.
The racing is free to all spectators, with suggested viewing spots for each stage available at www.tourofutah.com.