Tour of Utah rolls to rocky start with drug suspension |

Tour of Utah rolls to rocky start with drug suspension

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Tom Danielson celebrates after winning the Tour of Utah stage that finished at Powder Mouintain last year. Danielson, the Boulder cyclist who is the two-time defending champion in the Tour of Utah, was suspended before the start of the 2015 race. He tested positive for synthetic testosterone last month.
Leah Hogsten /The Salt Lake Tribune | The Salt Lake Tribune

The Tour of Utah is off and rolling, albeit with a bit of a rocky start.

The annual Utah stage race kicked off in Logan, Utah, on Monday without two-time defending Tour of Utah winner Tom Danielson of Boulder.

Danielson was informed the night before the race that he had tested positive for synthetic testosterone in an out-of-competition test in early July, forcing his late withdrawal from the event.

Danielson, who won the USA Pro Challenge stage that finished in downtown Aspen in 2012, announced his suspension on Twitter, where he said he did not take any banned substance.

The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency performed the test and notified Danielson of the irregularity.

Danielson wrote “I would never ever take anything like this especially after everything I have gone through the last years. This makes absolutely no sense.”

Danielson testified as part of USADA’s investigation into Lance Armstrong two years ago. The two were teammates on the Discovery Channel cycling team.

Danielson was given a six-month suspension for his part in the doping scandal.

He is awaiting the results of his backup, B sample.

If it shows the presence of synthetic testosterone, Danielson will face a lifetime ban from cycling.

He also was scheduled to race in the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado, which includes a stage finish in Aspen on Wednesday, Aug. 19, and a stage start in Aspen on Thursday, Aug. 20.

SmartStop’s Jure Kocjan a Slovenian, won Tuesday’s 99-mile stage with a final sprint in Ogden.

Robin Carpenter of Philadelphia and Hincapie Racing finished second. Carpenter trained in the Aspen area last month.

Carpenter also won last year’s rainy/muddy stage of the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado — a stage that took the cyclists over muddy Kebler Pass during a torrential rainstorm. That stage had started in Aspen.

The Tour of Utah opened with a stage win for Kiel Reijnen of Boulder, riding for UnitedHealthcare.

He edged training partner Alex Howes of Cannondale-Garmin for the stage victory, matching the Aspen/Snowmass Circuit Race last year when the same duo went 1-2.

Reijnen, originally from Washington state, kept his overall lead by four seconds over Howes. They both attended the University of Colorado.

Kocjan moved up to third overall .

The Tour of Utah will continue today with a 109-mile stage from Antelope Island State Park to Bountiful. It includes four categorized climbs.