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Having made it into a small group that sprinted for the win, Reijnen was clearly the fastest in the final dash to the line on stage 5 of the Tour of Utah; Geoghegan-Hart and Howes completed the podium and Morton retained the lead

Photo: Unipublic










05.08.2016 @ 23:54 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

After a race of near-misses and disappointments, Kiel Reijnen finally took his first win for Trek when he came out on top in the sprint at the end of a very hard fifth stage of the Tour of Utah. Having made it into a small group that arrived together at the finish, he was in a class of his own in the final dash to the line, easily distancing Tao Geoghegan-Hart (Axeon) and Alex Howes (Cannondale) to take a stage win in the race for the second year in a row. Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly) finished safely in the front group and retained the lead on the eve of the queen stage.


In the last few years, Kiel Reijnen has developed into one of the best domestic riders in North America. The American has specialized in reduced bunch sprints at the end of hard races and in that way he has taken big wins at both the USA Pro Challenge and the Tour of Utah.


The great results earned him a move to the WorldTour for the 2016 season where he was picked up by the Trek team which was keen to give him a chance at the highest level. However, he has mainly been working for his teammates in the European races and he hasn’t got many opportunities to show his qualities in the sprints.


This week he has a team riding fully for him at the Tour of Utah but the first part of the race has been pretty frustrating. After hard work from his teammates on stage 1, he suffered a mechanical in the finale and he was beaten by Travis McCabe in the sprints on stages 2 and 4.


However, Reijnen had gone into the race with a different focus. Having worked more on his climbing than his sprints, his confidence had been boosted significantly when he finished with some of the best climbers on the hard third stage. That made him target today’s fifth stage which includes two passages of a tough climb in the finale and today things finally came together as he turned out to be superior when a small group arrived at the finish to sprint for the win.


After yesterday’s sprint stage, it was expected to be harder in the fifth stage broughtthe riders over 186km from Antelope Island State Park to Bountiful. After 70 flat kilometres, the riders tackled the climbs of North Ogden Divide and Trappers Loop in quick succession before they headed along flat roads to the difficult finale. Here they passed close to the finish before going up the final category 3 climb for the first time. It was followed by one lap of a 14.6km circuit that included the climb just 11km from the finish. The climb averaged 10% over 2.1km and from the top it was slightly downhill all the way to the finish. It was a technical finale with several turns inside the final 3km, the final sharp corner coming just 500m from the line.


It was another hot an sunny day when the riders gathered for the start and as in the past stages, it was a furiously quick opening phase. As they haven’t had much success yet, Fortuneo-Vital Concept were eager to attack so they sent Frederik Brun off in a solo attack right from the gun. The Frenchman built a small advantage before Sion Pellaud (IAM) joined him. While the attacking continued further back, the pair worked well together to keep the different chase groups at bay.


As they passed through the finish for the first time after 5km of racing, a chase group joined the two leaders and the new front group worked hard to try to distance the peloton. Pellaud, Brun, Tom Bohli (BMC), Julien Bernard (Trek), Chris Jones, Daniel Eaton (Unitedheathcare), Logan Owen (Axeon), Brayan Sanchez (Jamis), Thomas Vaubourzeix (Lupus), Evan Huffman (Rally) and Alexander Cataford (Silber) got a solid of around 20 seconds as Jelly Belly tried to calm things down and have the race settle into a rhythm.


Jelly Belly failed in their mission as the attacking soon started again and a 10-rider chase group with two Cannondale riders was formed. They stayed in between for a little while but were brought back after 25km of racing. As the front group was now 40 seconds ahead the peloton slowed down and it seemed like the break had gone away.


However, Holowesko had missed the move so they broke the peace by making a double attack with Joe Lewis and Andzs Flaksis. They were joined by Hayden McCormick (ONE) and Colin Joyce (Axeon) but the quartet had a hard time getting an advantage as Jelly Belly started an immediate chase.


Jelly Belly closed the move down and they also shout the counterattack from McCormick down. However, Holowesko had no intention of giving up and they kept attacking. Jelly Belly constantly tried to slow things down but as the gap was only 30 seconds, the Holowesko riders kept trying to bridge across.


After 24km of racing, race leader Lachlan Morton stopped for a natural break and this was the signal for the attacking to stop. The gap soon went out to a minute as the peloton almost came to a standstill and Jelly Belly finally got what they wanted.


He gap went out to 3.35 before Jelly Belly lined out their troops on the front and started to control things. They didn’t chase though and so the gap had gone out to 5.05 when Pellaud beat Bernard and Owen in the first intermediate sprint.


Joshua Berry and Taylor Sheldon were among the riders doing the early work for Jelly Belly but they soon got some welcome assistance from Holowesko and ONE who had both missed the break. After a little less than 50km of racing, Joe Lewis and Andrei Krailnikau started to ride on the front alongside Jelly Belly and a James Oram from ONE and they kept the gap between 4.30 and 5.00 for the next few kilometres.


The five hard-working domestiques had brought the gap down to 4.05 when they hit the first climb with 110km to go. As soon as they started to climb, Vaubourzeix was dropped from the front group which worked together to keep the gap at around four minutes.


As they approached the top of the climb, Eaton attacked to win the KOM sprint ahead of Sanchez, Jones, Cataford and Bernard. He crested the summit with a 5-second advantage but the group came back together on the descent. In the peloton, Krailnikau did most of the work and the group reached the top 4.30 behind the leaders.


While Jelly Belly again took control of the peloton, the battle for the second intermediate sprint started when Pellaud attacked from afar. Owen and Bernard marked him closely and it was the American who took maximum points ahead of the Frenchman and the Swiss.


The front group regrouped and again started to cooperate to keep their advantage which was now 4.55. In the peloton, Murphy, Sheldon and Krasilnikau were doing the work but they couldn’t prevent the gap from going out to 5.15 before they hit the second climb where Vaubourzeix had rejoined the front group.


Sheldon, Murphy and Krasilnikay did a good job on the climb to bring the gap down to less than four minutes before Sanchez narrowly beat Eaton in the KOM sprint, with Cataford taking third, Jones fourth and Huffman fifth.  As soon as the front group crested the summit, however, they clearly accelerated and managed to push the gap back out to 4.20. Hayden McCormick (ONE) briefly attacked on the descent but he was soon brought back.


With 60km to go, the gap was still 4 minutes and this was the sign for the chase to get more organized. Holowesko put three riders on the front and ONE came to the fore with two riders and they upped the pace significantly as they returned to flat roads, cooperating with the Jelly Belly riders. Meanwhile, Jones punctured out of the lead group but he quickly made it back.


Richard Handley, Oram, Lewis and Krasilnikau were among the riders to take huge turns on the front and the gap had already dropped to 2.30 when the front group entered the final 45km. Ten kilometres later, it had dropped to less than two minutes and this was the signal for the attacking to start in the front group. Huffman, Bernard, Catford and Jones managed to get away and as the chasers just kept attacking each other, they quickly got a solid advantage.


Pellaud was the first rider to get something out of the attacking and he managed to bridge across solo with 30km to go. Bohli also made the junction but he reached the front just as they hit the final climb for the first time and he was distanced immediately. Pellaud also paid the price, leaving just four riders in the lead while the group split up further back as Owen and Eaton tried to bridge the gap alone while Vaubourzeix was dropped.


As they approached the top, Bernard took off alone and he quickly got an advantage of 10 seconds. He maintained a 1.55 advantage over the peloton as he entered the final 25km, with Cannondale now having taken control in the peloton. However, they were just cruising on the front and were not really chasing, with Phil Gaimon doing the work.


Bernard reached the top with a small advantage over Cataford and Huffmand while Unitedhealthcare teammates Eaton and Jones were just a bit further back. The two chase duos quickly merged on the descent but they were still 25 seconds behind Bernard with 20km to go.


In the peloton, ONE started to attack on the descent and that created a group with Taylor Eisenhart (BMC), Eddie Dunbar (Axeon), Joseph Chavarria (Lupus), Hayden McCormick (ONE), Matthew Busche (Unitedhealthcare) and Damiano Cunego (Nippo-Vini Fantini). They quickly caught Bohli who went full gas for his teammate Eisenhart.


Bernard started the final lap with an advantage of just 5 seconds over his chasers, crossing the line first to win the intermediate sprint ahead of Eaton and Jones. The Eisenhart group was at 1.10 while the peloton was twenty seconds further adrift.


There was no great cooperation in the chase group which failed to close the final bit of the gap and instead they were caught by Eisenhart, McCormick, Busche and Dunbar who had dropped Bohli, Cunego and Chavarria. As soon as the junction was made, Jones went to the front, empting himself for teammate BUSCHE.


Bernard started the final climb with an advantage of 10 seconds but as Eisenhart again took over the pace-setting, he was brought back on the lower slopes. Busche made an immediate solo attack and he got a small advantage before Eisenhart and Dunbar gave chase. However, the peloton was not far behind, sitting at just 25 seconds.


Dunbar dropped Eisenhart and made I back to Busche before Janier Acevedo (Jamis) made a solo attack from the peloton. Just as the Colombian was about to join the front duo, Dunbar went solo but he couldn’t keep Acevedo at bay. The Jamis captain caught him just before the top, cresting the summit in first position. Daniel Jaramillo (Unitedhealthcare) was next followed by Tao-Geoghegan Hart (Axeon) and Darwin Atapuma (BMC).


In the peloton, there were lots of attacks near the top and it was Darwin Atapuma (BMC) who attacked. He rode away with Tao-Geoghegan Hart (Axeon) and those two riders caught the two leaders as they hit the final 10km. The move forced race leader Lachlan Morton to take action and he attacked alongside Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) and Rob Britton (Rally).


Dunbar emptied himself for Geoghegan-Hart while a group of 15-20 riders formed further back. As they were close to make the junction, a Rally rider and Alex Howes (Cannondale) bridged across but before they had made the junction, Geoghegan-Hart had gone solo.


The chasers were brought back and then Howes started to ride hard on the front for Cannondale. He could not prevent Elie Gesbert (Fortuneo-Vital Concept) from bridging the gap to the Axeon rider but he immediately paid the price, dropping back to the group again.


Howes and Laurent Didier (Trek) rode hard on the front and brought it all back together before they hit the descent and immediately neutralized a move from Acevedo. Didier and Alberto Bettiol (Cannondale) the maintained a fast pace as they headed back down towards Bountiful.


The aggressive Eisenhart attacked again as they approached the bottom and he briefly got a small advantage but again Didier and Bettiol brought the back. They also neutralized a move from Joey Rosskopf (BMC) and it was Bettiol who set the pace under the 2km to go banner.


Peter Stetina took over for Trek, working hard for teammate Kiel Reijnen and then Bettiol came through for one final turn while everybody was fighting for position. He was the first rider through the final turn and he kept going until less than 500m remained.


Rosskopf went for a very long lead-out and briefly looked like he might even take the win. However, as soon as Reijnen launched his sprint, the outcome was never in doubt. The American was clearly the fastest and easily passed all his rivals to take his first win for Trek before Geoghegan-Hart narrowly held off Howes and Talansky in the battle for second. Thus the latter lost out on bonus seconds by the tiniest of margins, having been beaten by one of his teammates.


Morton finished safely in the bunch and so retained the lead with a 7-second advantage over Adrien Costa (Axeon). He faces his next big test in tomorrow’s queen stage. The 183.1km will bring the riders from Snowbasin Resort to the well-known finish at the Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. After a flat first half, the riders will climb the difficult Guardsman Pass (12km, 7%) which has a very steep first part and again gets steeper near the top with 46.1km to go. From there it is a descent to the bottom of the final climb which averages 8% over 10.3km and is a very regular affair that is slightly more difficult in the middle section.



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