CEDAR CITY -- Professional cycling will be focused on Utah's scenic red rock country beginning today as the 2013 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah gets under way in Iron County.
Organizers say a stellar cast of 126 professional cyclists from around the globe will be racing the 586-mile course. Sixteen pro teams will line up to contest "America's Toughest Stage Race," bringing athletes from 32 different countries.
Some of the top athletes from ProTeams include fan-favorites Jens Voigt (Germany) and Chris Horner (USA) of Radioshack Leopard Trek; Christian Vande Velde (USA), Dave Zabriskie (USA) and Ryder Hesjedal (Canada) of Team Garmin-Sharp; Michael Schaer (Switzerland) of BMC Racing Team; as well as Baden Cooke (Australia) and Michael Matthews (Australia) of Orica GreenEdge.
The race begins this morning at Brian Head and finishes on Sunday in Park City. The UCI 2.1-sanctioned stage race boasts an all-star field of Olympians, national champions and Grand Tour stage winners. There are a total of 16 Olympians on race rosters this year, representing 11 countries.
In fact, three teams - Team Garmin-Sharp, Orica-GreenEdge and Radioshack Leopard Trek each have four Olympic athletes.
"In our ninth year, we have attracted our largest field of international athletes, representing 32 countries. Spectators can enjoy world-class competition from southern Utah to the Wasatch Front," said Steve Miller, president of Miller Sports Properties, which organizes the Tour of Utah.
Former Tour of Utah champions Jeff Louder (USA) of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling and Francisco Mancebo (Spain) of 5-hour Energy presented by Kenda Racing Team are back again to tackle the 43,621 feet of vertical gain in the race.
They are joined by past stage winners from the Tour of Utah -- American Jesse Anthony (2011 stage) of Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies and Colombian Janier Acevedo Calle (2011 stage) of Team Jamis-Hagens Berman pb Sutter Home, and Jake Keough (2012 stage) of UnitedHeathcare Pro Cycling.
Among the crew of youngsters in the field include two Utahns with the Bontrager Cycling Team, reigning U23 U.S. National Road Race champion Tanner Putt of Park City and Connor O'Leary of Salt Lake City, who finished sixth in the U23 road race nationals.
Others with connections to Utah in the field include two riders on Team Jamis - Hagens Berman: Jamey Driscoll of Park City and former Salt Lake City resident Tyler Wren.
The Tour of Utah continues to be free to all spectators, making professional cycling one of the most unique pro sports in the world today.
* TOUR NOTES: FOX Sports Network (FSN) continues as the official U.S. broadcast partner for the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. FSN will provide a total of 18 hours of national programming. The live coverage on FSN is scheduled daily to coincide with race finishes and award ceremonies, 2-4 p.m. (MST) on Aug. 6-8 and 10-11; 6-7 p.m. (MST) on Aug. 9. A one-hour highlight program will be televised on FSN at 11 p.m. KJZZ will also broadcast the coverage. ...
The Ultimate Challenge presented by the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, a non-competitive, endurance bicycle ride for individuals and cycling groups, offers a new 113-mile route on the same day and on the same route as the Queen Stage of the Tour of Utah. On Saturday, recreational cyclists can experience the same demanding mountain course as the world's best professional cycling teams, starting at Snowbasin Resort and finishing at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. Just like Stage Five of the Tour of Utah, The Ultimate Challenge will feature 10,611 vertical feet of climbing and include a new course through Park City and over Guardsman's Pass. Advance registration is at http://tourofutah.com/2013/ultimate-challenge. ...
For updates, visit TourofUtah.com.