Friday, May 27, 2011
An Open Letter To The Tour of Utah
With the Tour of California having just ended, wouldn’t it be great to have another big stage race in the US that would keep the international peloton racing here for a while? Today’s edition of fantasy psyche offers a solution.
A few years back I spoke with the Tour of Utah’s founder, the late Terry McGinnis, about the possibility of it becoming a point to point tour across one of the most beautiful geographic regions in the world. He said that was his ultimate dream. With the success of the Tour of California I think the time for Terry's dream has arrived. I’ve been playing around with various possible routes this tour could take for years. Here is my proposition for expanding the already cool Tour of Utah (valley) into an actual tour of the great state of Utah.
While I have no time to arrange such an event the organizers might. If not, here’s an open letter to the public hoping someone will take the reins and make it happen. I’ll be the first one in line for the amateur version, which would certainly become one of the most sought after events on the amateur tour rider’s calendar.
The first thing on my agenda should be to move the race up to last week of May/1st of June (between ToC and Dauphine Libre) in order to couple it with the ToC as part of the prep schedule for the Tour de France. This would enhance scenery as the mountain tops are still snow covered, as well as make the riding temps more Tour like (blistering hot in the deserts and frigid on the summits). The kids will be in school and route passes many small town schools, where organized could motivate them to participate. Summer tourist season will have begun, to provide good crowds, but not yet be in full swing so lodging will be more plentiful and easier to organize.
I visualize three versions:
Amateur tour (early AM start)
Women’s race (early start)
Men’s (late start to plan daily finish late afternoon/post work)
Taglines: hardest stage race in the US, most beautiful race/bike tour in the world
Stage 1, Sunday: Moab to Moab
Approx 75 miles, 4,000’ elevation gain
Ride out of Moab over the Big Nasty climb, descend Castle Valley, follow River Road back into two and finish when a number of circuits (to be determined) around town. Short stage with one major climb early, 5 star scenery.
Climber points: Big Nasty summit (with bonus seconds so this summit will be raced agressively)
Sprint points: Finish (with bonus seconds)
Transfer to stage 2: 2.5 hours. Amateur and women lodge in Torrey or Hanksville. Men in Moab.
Stage 2, Monday: Torrey to Brian Head
Approx 160 miles, 12,000’ elevation gain
Epic stage with a moutain top finish along “the most scenic drive in the US”. While insanely long with two major climbs, this stage trends down hill and should be fairly fast for most of its length. Climb out of Torrey is out of the gate and the stage should then be fast until the final long but not horrendously steep drag up to Brian Head at 10,000’. This promises to be one of the most beautiful bike routes ever raced. Perhaps start women’s race in Boulder and amateur in Escalante, both versions eliminating the first big climb and making the lodging logistics simpler.
Climber points: major points for first climb out of Torrey and Brian Head finish. Two minor point climbs in between.
Sprint points: Sprints held in towns of Boulder, Escalante, Tropic, Panguitch
Transfer to stage 3: 45 minutes. Lodging at Brian Head, Cedar City, and Parawon
Stage 3, Tuesday: Cedar City to St. George
Approx 100 miles, 3,000’ elevation gain
Fast stage with a lot of down hill riding. One medium climb near the end through Snow Canyon State Park could weed out some sprinters but with 10 miles and circuits still to race will likely come back together. Head west of of Cedar City, then south using back roads when possible. Finish with afternoon circuits in downtown St. George to encourage large crowds and events.
Climber points: a few minor climbs and then good points for the Snow Canyon climb
Sprint points: Sprints held in towns of Enterprise, Veyo, Santa Clara, and maybe into town
Transfer to stage 4: 2.5 hours. Amateurs and women stay in Richmond. Pros in St George of Cedar City.
Stage 4, Wednesday: Richfield to Mt Nebo
Approx: 90 miles, 5,000’ elevation gain
Fast flat stage for 80 miles (and a likely tailwind) to a massive climb and summit finish on Mt Nebo. Scenic ride up route 89 with many intermediate sprints to engage the town citizens with what should be a spirited fight for sprinters jersey. Epic finish.
Climber points: couple of minor points en route.
Sprint points: Sprints in Gunnison, Manti, Ephraim, Moroni, always in front of schools or business districts to increase crowds.
Transfer to stage 5: 1 hour
Stage 5, Thursday: Salt Lake City to Salt Lake City
Approx: 75 miles
Challenging circuit race downtown Salt Lake City with a party-like atmosphere. Amateur ride will tackle the “Ronde van SLC” course (75-mile tour of the Salt Lake valley and benches that features all of the toughest bergs, or short urban climbs.)
Climber points: probably each lap on the “Capital climb”
Sprint points: many primes
Transfer to stage 5: 45 minutes
Stage 6, Friday: Ogden to Park City
Approx: 90 miles, 5,000’ elevation gain
After parading around downtown Ogden, the riders engage in one downtown sprint prime and then head east taking the back roads to Park City, finally finishing on a number of challening circuits through downtown Park City, perhaps also using the Royal Street climb if very hard circuits are desired.
Climber points: numerous minor points available
Sprint points: available in Ogden, Morgan, Coalvillle, Kamas
Transfer to stage 6: 1 hour to Miller Motorsports Park
Stage 7, Saturday: Larry H. Miller Motorsports Park
Approx: 50 miles or TT
Saturday at the races will feature a cycling festival with an entire day of events, demos, films, music, amateur races, etc. Amateur tour has a day off and free entry to the festival. A crit would probably be more fun for the fans but organizers may wish to do a TT instead, even though a flat TT has little meaning in a race with this many mountains and the sprint jersey competition will likely be fierce.
Transfer to stage 8: back to Park City
Stage 8, Sunday: Park City to Snowbird
Approx: 120 miles, 13,000’ elevation gain
The queen stage once again. Not much else needs to be said about this one. It’s been the pinnacle of the race every year and should stay that way.
Climber points: big mountain points available prior to the final climb
Sprint points: a few to motivate the sprint jersey to get over the climbs