Utah tour offers preview of Pro Challenge | AspenTimes.com

Utah tour offers preview of Pro Challenge

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
Australia's Michael Matthews celebrates his win in Stage 4 of the Tour of Utah last week.
Scott Sommerdorf / The Salt Lake Tribune | The Salt Lake Tribune

Several cycling teams scheduled to race in the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado used last week’s Tour of Utah as a test run.

Teams also used the Utah stage race to prep some riders for the Vuelta a Espana, the Grand Tour of Spain, that will start the same week as the fifth annual USA Pro Challenge.

The Colorado stage race will start Monday, Aug. 17, with the Steamboat Springs Circuit Race.

After Stage 2 (Steamboat to Arapahoe Basin Ski Area), the riders in the USA Pro Challenge will return to Aspen for the finish of Stage 3.

Cyclists will start that day at Copper Mountain Resort with the final section featuring a climb and descent of Independence Pass on Wednesday, Aug. 19.

Aspen also will be the start venue for Stage 4 on Thursday, Aug. 20. The cyclists will start in Aspen and immediately climb back up Independence Pass with an eventual finish in downtown Breckenridge

Many of the teams from the Tour of Utah will field squads in the USA Pro Challenge, including Colorado-based Cannondale-Garmin, which yielded Tour of Utah overall winner Joe Dombrowski, a 24-year-old from Virginia.

He won the penultimate stage of the seven-stage Utah race and held the lead over the final day in Park City.

Dombrowski won the overall by 50 seconds over Michael Woods of Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies, another team scheduled to race in Colorado next week.

Dombrowski, however, is ticketed to ride in the Spanish Vuelta for Cannondale-Garmin.

Woods, a stage winner in Utah this year, likely will be on the Optum squad that will race into Aspen on Aug. 19.

Third overall in Utah general classification went to Brent Bookwalter of BMC Racing.

Frank Schleck of Trek Factory Racing was fourth, 1:07 back of Dombrowski.

Christopher Horner of Airgas-Safeway was fifth overall with the winner of the final stage, Lachlan Norris of Drapac Professional Cycling, sixth overall.

Ninth place overall went to Robbie Squire of Hincapie Racing, who has trained in the Aspen area this year.

And 10th overall went to Lachlan Morton of Jelly Belly, an Australian cyclist who also trained in Aspen. Morton is a former stage winner in Utah.

Greg Daniel of the Axeon Cycling Team won the king of the mountain jersey for Utah. He also had a stage win for Axeon, set to race in Colorado next week.

Gregory will be joined in the USA Pro Challenge by Keegan Swirbul, an Aspen High School graduate and second-year pro racer.

Swirbul raced in the USA Pro Challenge last year, riding for Bissell.

Bookwalter, a former collegiate standout cyclist at Lees-McRae College in North Carolina, won the sprinter’s jersey for the Utah race.

Taylor Phinney of BMC, making his comeback from a broken leg, was voted the fan favorite for the Utah race. He’s a likely candidate to join the BMC team that will race in Colorado.

Phinney also came through Aspen earlier this summer on an extended training ride in preparation for his comeback.

Official team rosters for the USA Pro Challenge will be released later this week.