5 years ago by Sam Wiebe

Rob Britton Holds Yellow in Snowbird Showdown

Team Defends Overall Lead In Epic Mountain Clash

In a tremendous battle through the mountains east of Salt Lake City, Rally Cycling successfully defended Rob Britton’s leader’s jersey at the Tour of Utah. Under constant attack from general classification rivals, Rally Cycling fended off all challengers, and at day's end, Britton crossed the line fifth and maintained his 26-second lead in the general classification.

"I was very confident going into today," said Britton. "I had 100 percent faith in the team. They have been fantastic this week and today was no different. We knew the downhill off American Fork Canyon was dangerous, we made it down and then assessed the situation. Bookwalter and Eisenhart took a lot of risks and were really aggressive today – and eventually paid for it. The team was phenomenal; we were never on the back foot. Colin (Joyce), Danny (Pate) and Evan (Huffman) reeled went full gas, and at the base, we were only back 15 seconds on the Bookwalter and Eisenhart group. On the climb, I never felt like I was under pressure. I felt like I had the race under control."

With one stage remaining, Rob Britton holds yellow by 26 seconds

The team took control early in the day, setting a brisk tempo. On the climb of American Fork Canyon, a breakaway of 13 riders, none a threat on general classification, went clear. Over the top, a second and dangerous group of four, including general classification threat Brent Bookwalter (BMC) his teammate Kilian Frankiny and Taylor Eisenhart (Holowesko-Citadel) charged off the front. The quartet quickly established a 40-second gap, and when Tom Bohli (BMC) dropped back from the lead group of 13, the Bookwalter group’s gap to the peloton grew to 1:20 heading towards the final showdown of the day on the ascent to Snowbird Resort. With the yellow jersey threatened, Rally Cycling pushed forward with Joyce, Pate and Huffman driving the pace. At the base of the climb to Snowbird, the team had closed the gap to a mere 15 seconds.

On the lower slopes of Snowbird, the breakaway was reeled in by the strength and determination of Huffman and Sepp Kuss. With Bookwalter and Eisenhart’s threats neutralized, the battle for the stage win commenced. As numerous riders made bids for stage glory, The Bardiani CSF team and Kuss set a steady tempo, piloting Britton up the first half of the climb as riders fell from contention. With seven kilometers left, Kuss lost contact with the lead group. In the front group with Britton was six other riders, including general classification rivals Gavin Mannion (UnitedHealthcare), Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly p/b Maxxis) and Neilson Powless (Axeon-Hagens Berman). Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani CSF) struck out with five kilometers remaining to take the stage win. Britton crossed the line fifth to maintain his overall lead.

Colin Joyce drives the peloton toward the ascent to Snowbird Resort

“The guys went out on a hard day and got the job done,” said Performance Manager Jonas Carney. "Today the team rode with the single objective of Rob being in yellow at the end of the day. It wasn’t ideal to have three BMC and three Holowesko guys in the breakaway, but the team kept calm, and it ended up working to our advantage. The guys were solid all day and put Rob in a good position for the final climb. Rob was excellent on the final climb, he rode smart, marked any big threats and kept the pace high when needed. We have one more stage. It's going to be difficult to control, so we are staying focused and saving any potential celebration for tomorrow after the race.”

The 2017 Tour of Utah ends tomorrow with a circuit race through the streets of Salt Lake City.

Tour of Utah Stage 6
1. Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani CSF)
2. Simone Sterbini (Bardiani CSF)
3. Neilson Powless (Axeon Hagens Berman)
4. Gavin Mannion (UnitedHealthcare)
5. Robert Britton (Rally Cycling)
6. Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly-Maxxis)
7. Manuel Senni (BMC)
8. Chris Butler (Caja Rural)
9. James Piccoli (Elevate -KHS)
10. Brent Bookwalter (BMC)

Tour of Utah General Classification After Stage 6
1. Rob Britton (Rally Cycling)
2. Gavin Mannion (UnitedHealthcare)
3. Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly-Maxxis)
4. Neilson Powless (Axeon Hagens Berman)
5. Brent Bookwalter (BMC)
6. Giulio Ciccone (Bardiani CSF)
7. Jonathan Clarke (UnitedHealthcare)
8. Chris Butler (Caja Rural)
9. James Piccoli (Elevate -KHS)
10. Sepp Kuss (Rally Cycling)