Aspen’s Keegan Swirbul 21st in Utah stage; Danielson keeps lead

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

Aspen first-year professional cyclist Keegan Swirbul finished a strong 21st in Saturday’s sixth stage of the 10th annual Tour of Utah.

Swirbul, an Aspen High School graduate riding for the Bissell Development Team, completed Saturday’s 107.2-mile stage in 4 hours, 37 minutes, 13 seconds.

He and his Bissell teammates are scheduled to race in the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado next week, starting with the Aspen/Snowmass Circuit Race on Monday, Aug. 18.

Cadel Evans of Australia, the 2011 Tour de France winner, won Saturday’s Utah stage that started in downtown Salt Lake City and eventually finished at Snowbird resort with a final climb up Little Cottonwood Canyon.

(Tom) Danielson was assisted by teammates Alex Howes, Janier Acevedo and Phil Gaimon … All four cyclists are on the roster for the USA Pro Challenge, which starts with the Aspen/Snowmass Circuit Race on Monday, Aug. 18.

Evans prevailed by bridging up to a breakaway that hovered around five riders for the final kilometers of Saturday’s hilly stage.

He eventually crossed in 4 hours, 34 minutes, 31 seconds after outsprinting Joseph Rosskopf of the Hincapie Sportswear Development Team. Rosskopf is from Decatur, Georgia,

Ricardo Zoidl, the two-time reigning Austrian national road racing champion, finished third for Trek Factory Racing.

Wilco Kelderman of Belkin finished fourth on the stage followed by the race’s overall leaders.

Chris Horner, an American riding for Lampre, finished fifth Saturday.

Danielson’s dash

Tom Danielson, the Boulder pro riding for Garmin-Sharp, finished sixth to protect his overall race lead. Horner remains second, 56 seconds back.

In third overall is Ben Hermans of BMC Racing, a Belgium rider.

Danielson, who won a stage of the USA Pro Challenge that finished in downtown Aspen two years ago, had to overcome a mechanical problem with his bike seat post, switching to another bike.

But his Garmin-Sharp teammates helped pull him back to the main peloton and eventually up to the leaders.

Danielson was assisted by teammates Alex Howes, Janier Acevedo and Phil Gaimon on the late climbs. Acevedo is from Colombia.

Howes hails from Golden. Gaimon, who grew up in Georgia, lives now in California.

All four cyclists are on the Garmin-Sharp roster for the USA Pro Challenge, including Danielson who was third overall in Colorado last year.

In addition, the Garmin-Sharp team will send Americans Ben King (Virginia) and Gavin Mannion (Massachusetts) to Aspen and Snowmass for stage 1 on Monday, Aug. 18. Thomas Dekker of the Netherlands will ride for the Colorado-based Garmin squad along with Australian climber Lachlan Morton, who won a mountain stage of the Tour of Utah in 2012.

Morton, like Danielson, is a former winner of the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in Colorado, a tough road race from Durango to Silverton over two mountain passes. Danielson still holds the unofficial record on the ride from Durango to Silverton.

Danielson can win his second consecutive Tour of Utah overall title in the final stage today — 78 miles over Empire Pass with a finish in Park City.

Heading to Aspen

Five of the top UCI Pro Teams from the Tour of Utah will race in Colorado next week, including Garmin-Sharp, Cannondale, Tinkoff-Saxo, Trek Factory Racing and BMC, featuring Tejay van Garderen of Aspen, the defending overall champion in the USA Pro Challenge.

His BMC team in Colorado will include the aforementioned Hermans along with Americans Brent Bookwalter and Peter Stetina.

Michael Schar of Switzerland, who won a stage in Utah earlier this week, will ride for BMC with countryman Martin Kohler. German cyclist Rick Zabel and Belgium rider Yannick Eijssen will round out the BMC squad for the USA Pro Challenge.

After the Aspen/Snowmass Circuit Race on Monday, Aug. 18, the second stage of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge will start in Aspen on Tuesday, Aug. 19, and head down Highway 82 to Basalt and Carbondale before turning on Highway 133 and heading to Redstone.

The cyclist will go over McClure Pass and then negotiate Kebler Pass for the stage 2 finish in Crested Butte.

The roster for Bissell in Colorado will include Swirbul, Chris Putt, Daniel Eaton, Gregory Daniel, James Oram, Tanner Putt, Nicholai Brochner and Nathan Van Hooydonck.

Van Hooydonck is from Belgium. Brochner is from Denmark. Oram is from New Zealand.

The other Bissell cyclists are American riders.