Team Champion System Tour of Utah Report: Stage 4

We're happy to have Assistant Director Burke Swindlehurst from UCI Pro Team Champion System as a guest blogger this week, reporting on his team's experiences in the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.

Lehi to Energy Solutions Arena: 134.3 miles/219.8km -- View Stage 4 Route Map

Stage 4 of the 2012 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah looked as if it were going to be another scorcher as the race headed into Utah's West Desert after it's departure from Xango headquarters in Lehi. The attacks came immediately, and a sextet comprised of some of the event's strongest teams (inlcuding Team Champion System's Craig Lewis) quickly established a tentative 30-second lead. After several failed attempts by solo riders to join the group (including Radio Shack's Jens Voigt), the breakaway finally pushed its lead to over a minute, and soon the defending Garmin/Barracuda team settled into a comfortable rhythm at the head of affairs. The six leaders would eventually push their advantage out to over 10 minutes as overcast skies and a few raindrops provided welcome relief to a peloton which has suffered through three days of relentless temperatures touching 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

No stranger to long breakaways, Lewis would take the first XO Communications Sprint of the day at Kilometer 24, reinforcing the team's game plan to make an impact on the day's racing.

Once the race reached it's midway point, several teams who missed the early move began to contribute to the efforts at the front, and the time gap slowly started to creep back down until it appeared as if the efforts of the six leaders would end well short of the finish line in Salt Lake City.

Despite the strong chase behind, the the lead group forged on, and as they reached the Salt Lake City limits with only 10 kilometers remaining, they still held a 1-minute lead which would remain intact until the final three kilometers. With just one kilometer left, the leaders still clung to a 10-second lead, and it looked as if we just might see an opportunity for Craig to pull off a repeat of his victory at the Tour de Beauce in June. As the race made its final left turn toward Energy Solutions Arena, however, the riders were overtaken, and the sprint from the field saw Jake Keough of Team United Health Care cross the line first, followed by Marco Bennefato of Omega Pharma and Garmin's Tyler Farrar.

Tomorrow's race from Park City to Snowbird promises to shake-up the general classification as the mountains return with a vengeance! We're looking forward to seeing how our mountain goats do both tomorrow and on Sunday's new stage which includes a climb up the newly-paved Empire Pass -- believed by many to be the toughest climb seen by the professional peloton on American soil.

Stay tuned!