by Richard Markosian
photos by Adam Vicinus
Now recognized as one of the top three bicycling tours in the U.S. the Tour of Utah continues to grow.
The Tour of Utah has quickly grown from a mostly second-tier event to attracting some of the most elite pro cycling talent in the world. This year American Levi Leipheimer won the tour besting riders from Colombia, Argentina and Russia.
The Larry H. Miller Group provided the early funding to start the tour on its initial climb. This year top sponsors included Zions Bank, the Utah Office of Tourism, the Utah Sports Commission and XO Communications and the well-greased event attracted large crowds of people willing to endure the hot August heat to watch their favorite riders zip up the canyons or tear down hills at breakneck speeds.
Utah native Jeff Louder rides for team Garmin. “It is one of the biggest tours in the United States and it’s one of the big three – California, Utah and Colorado – so obviously it’s at a really high level already. And all it can do is grow, and it’s really gaining its footing and clout.“
Louder’s Garmin teammate, Cadel Evans, recently won the Tour de France, which is celebrating over 100 years of being the most coveted prize in professional cycling best known for its stages in the Pyrenees and the Alps. Ascents like L’Alpe D’huez are up to 7% average grade.
The final stage of the Tour of Utah is completed at the first entry of Snowbird resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon. Little Cottonwood Canyon’s average grade is 9%. The steep grade got the best of a few riders who fell off the main pack, but Team Colombia won the overall victory. Both Leipheimer and Louder seem unphased by the tough final stage finish.