The final stage of the Tour of Utah saw Lachlan Norris (Drapac Cycling) out sprint Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing) for the stage win with our Natnael Berhane coming across the line in 3rd place. Joe Dombrowski (Cannondale-Garmin) won the Tour of Utah overall.
The final stage saw MTN-Qhubeka p/b Samsung keep its unique record of placing a rider in the break at every single stage of the 2015 Tour of Utah when Songezo Jim joined 11 riders off the front of the peloton today. The leaders were allowed to get just over a 3 minute lead before the chase from the peloton really started.
There were 2 main climbs of the day, the cat 2 Wolf Creek Ranch climb and then the extremely tough HC climb up Empire pass. After Wolf Creek, Tanner Putt (United Healthcare) attacked the lead group and Songezo set off after him just before Empire pass. Once the rode tilted upward though, the favourites quickly began to reel the break back in.
Songezo was the 3rd last rider to be caught but at that point the peloton was down to a favourites group of just 8 riders, Natnael as part of the selection. Songezo did a good job to ramp up the pace for Natnael for a while before our Eritrean champ and Michael Woods (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit) took over the pace making.
Over the top of the climb the leading group had swelled to 11 riders and there was just the extremely fast 9km descent back in to town left to race. Bookwalter and Norris got a slight gap on the descent and this was enough to decide the stage. Natanel led the yellow jersey and other favourites across the line 20″ later.
Natnael picked up our 3rd most aggressive rider of the stage jersey award for his efforts today while also securing 7th position on the General Classification.
Jean-Pierre Heynderickx – Sport Director
It was good to have Songezo in the break, he did well once again. Natnael was good on the climb and set the pace for most of the big climb, showing he was one of the best. Looking back maybe he could have attacked on the climb but it was not possible for me to get up to him. There are a lot of positives to take from this week but the thing that was missing was a win and that was what we really wanted. We tried hard and the guys raced every day in the front but we also made a few mistakes, and in the moment some of those decisions cost us. The good thing is we can become better from these experiences.