Touted as “America’s Toughest Stage Race,” the Team was led by captain and 2009 Tour of Utah champion Francisco “Paco” Mancebo (ESP) who finished 17th overall in the General Classification (GC) – 6 minutes, 39 seconds behind winner Johann Tschopp of the BMC Racing Team. Mancebo was also crowned Most Aggressive Rider for stage 5 – the Queen Stage – which featured 10,000 feet of climbing to the finish at the Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort.
“With our 2012 season wrapped up, what an exit it was with an incredible event in Utah,” said directeur sportif Gord Fraser. “This race continues to grow and is now virtually on par with the best events in the country. We raced hard and with spirit and once again thank the organization for having confidence that we could provide them some cache.”
After Team riders Mancebo and Max Jenkins (USA) finished 14th and 17th, respectively, in the 131-mile Stage 1 race in Ogden, Stage 2’s team time trail at the Miller Motorsports Park tested the Competitive Cyclist riders who pulled together to take eighth place overall in the stage and remain in good shape in the GC.
“I was in each of their ears to remind them that just as much attention should be paid to tight formation and rotation execution as to concentration on pulling their guts out on the front of the train,” said Fraser.
Although short at only 85 miles, stage 3 involved aggressive racing, grueling climbs, and searing hot temperatures. With four Competitive Cyclist riders in the elite group at the finish, Mancebo pulled hard for the final sprint to take 10th place in the stage. Jenkins, Mike Olheiser (USA), and Taylor Shelden (USA) kept solid pace throughout the stage to help put the Team in good position for the flatter, sprinter-friendly stage 4.
With less than 1k to the finish and within striking position for a win during the 134-mile Stage 4, Team sprint specialist Tommy Nankervis (AUS) dropped his chain and clashed with Mancebo, stunting his momentum. Mancebo, however, was able to re-kick and take 7th in the stage.
“The night before stage 4 I challenged my riders by saying, ‘We certainly aren’t the favorites here for a bunch sprint win, but I’ve been disappointed in the first two road stages’ finish execution. After all, we only have a few race days left as a team and we happen to be on Competitive Cyclist’s turf. We will go down swinging each and every day from here on out – I assure you,’” said Fraser.
Stage 5 – better known as the Queen Stage for its 10,000 feet of climbing and summit finish at the Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort – was Mancebo’s day to attack and try and ascend in the GC standings. In past years, this stage was held on the final day of the Tour of Utah, but the new Stage 6 in Park City now claimed that title. On the third and final climb of the day, Mancebo and one other rider set the pace until 8k to go. Having attacked hard throughout the brutal day, Mancebo was caught by the peloton and finished the stage sitting in 17th place in the GC. For his efforts, Mancebo was crowned Most Aggressive Rider of the stage.
The new final stage of the Tour of Utah in Park City took riders through Wolf Creek Ranch and over Empire Pass – which featured many pitches over a 20-percent grade. Despite a series of attacks, Mancebo finished the Tour of Utah in 17th place and Jenkins in 22nd place in the 93-rider field.
“The race’s claim of being America’s Toughest Stage Race may have been viewed by some as overly optimistic,”
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