Aspen’s Keegan Swirbul finishes 19th in Tour of Utah stage
OGDEN, Utah — Tom Danielson of Garmin-Sharp, a former stage winner in the USA Pro Challenge in downtown Aspen, pedaled away from the field Thursday to win the fourth stage of the Tour of Utah, taking the overall lead in the process.
Propelled by his Garmin-Sharp teammates at the base of the final steep climb to Powder Mountain, Danielson climbed away from challenger Chris Horner of Lampre to take the summit finish at the Powder Mountain Ski Area.
Aspen’s Keegan Swirbul, a first-year pro with the Bissell Development Team, finished a strong 19th in Thursday’s major climbing stage, 5:37 back. Swirbul, a recent Aspen High School graduate, was in among the premier climbers and general classification contenders in the 104-mile stage that started in downtown Ogden, Utah.
Competing in his first major stage race, Swirbul moved up to 48th position overall with Thursday’s electric finish.
Danielson, who won in Aspen in 2012 after a solo breakaway on the climb up Independence Pass, crossed the line Thursday with a 56-second lead over Ben Hermans of BMC and another second over Horner.
Those three riders now lead the overall standings with three stages remaining.
Danielson, who lives in Boulder and has been training in Tucson, Arizona, is the defending overall champion in the Tour of Utah.
He did not ride in the Tour de France this year, training instead for the Tour of Utah and the USA Pro Challenge, which will open Monday, Aug. 18, with the Aspen/Snowmass Circuit Race.
Many of the race teams in Utah will travel directly to Snowmass Village early next week to set up for the USA Pro Challenge. Stage 1 will be in Aspen and Snowmass Village, and the second stage will start in Aspen on Tuesday, Aug. 19, eventually finishing in Crested Butte. The route will include Basalt, Carbondale, Redstone, Highway 133, McClure Pass and Kebler Pass.
Alex Howes of Garmin-Sharp was credited Thursday with a strong pull to help Danielson, according to Velonew.com.
Howes is from Golden. He and teammate Danielson are scheduled to race in Colorado in the 2014 USA Pro Challenge. Danielson finished third in the Colorado stage race last year.
The final climb Thursday measured 3,100 vertical feet along the extremely steep road that is familiar to skiers and snowboarders headed to Utah’s Powder Mountain.
Today’s fifth stage of the Tour of Utah will roam into Wyoming for the first time in the 10-year history of the event.
The 102-mile trek includes a long stretch of dirt road near the finish in Kamas, Utah.
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Trailing to Aspen early in Sunday’s championship, the American Raptors came back to lead 24-15 at halftime and held a two score lead well into the second half before the Gents took over the match. This was the Gents’ 22nd championship at Ruggerfest, a tournament that dates to 1968.