Tour of Utah #6: Natnael Berhane 3rd on Queen stage


The 6th stage of the Tour of Utah would be the races Queen stage as riders finished atop the Snowbird Ski Resort. Joe Dombrowski soloed to the win and into the race leader’s jersey while Natnael Berhane came home in 3rd place behind Michael Woods (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit).

The stage was not all about the final climb though as riders had to contend with 4 major climbs in total, including the Cat 1 up Guardsman Pass. It was this mountain that would start to shape the race as an original break of 12 riders, which included Johann van Zyl once again, started to crumble.

Team Colombia would set the pace on the mountain and by the summit, only 2 riders remained out front by a single minute. The peloton was down to 25 riders as they hit the long descent to the foot of the HC Snowbird climb, Natnael was part of this favourites group.

As Colombia brought the 2 leaders to within touching distance at the base of Snowbird, Dombrowski attacked to bridge to his teammate up front. After catching his breath on the wheel he then went again. Frank Schleck (Trek-Factory) and yellow jersey Woods tried to respond but they couldn’t hang on to the young American. Natnael and Chris Horner (Airgas-Safeway) then left the rest of the peloton behind to join Schleck and Woods.

Dombrowski was in a league of his own and opened up a 1’17” lead over the 4 chasers by the finish of the 13km climb. Woods won the sprint for 2nd and Natnael 3rd. The result saw Natnael move up to 5th on the GC, +1’26” behind Dombrowski who pulled on yellow before Woods in 2nd, Schleck 3rd and Horner 4th.

Jean-Pierre Heynderickx – Sport Director
It was mostly a good stage for us. Natnael was in contention on the climb, and this we could expect. He ended with a good 3rd place and could move up some places on the GC. Also we had Johann in the break again. It’s nice to keep our record of 6 breakaways in 6 days. Johann was strong again but it was a pity Daniel was in the break as well, it was not possible to beat him in the mountain sprints so we couldn’t get the jersey back. Unfortunately the bad news is Matt Brammeier had a crash and was taken to the hospital in the ambulance. We believe it is only a precautionary measure but we will get confirmation soon. Tomorrow is our last chance and we will try to bring Natnael to a good position again to see what is possible.

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