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"“Since the start was only at four thirty we had time this morning to check out the course. And when I saw it I thought, 'Oh my god, it’s going to be one of these days - a nightmare!’"

Photo: Sirotti






08.08.2015 @ 14:06 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

Friday's stage five at the Tour of Utah was not long at 89 kilometers, but the peloton had to face a brutal Salt Lake City circuit that included a new 20 percent “wall” that took the punch out of many legs after seven brutal ascents.


The 12.7-kilometer course was not for the weak, and Trek Factory Racing’s mechanics equipped each and every red Trek team bike with 36-tooth chain rings, and a 28-tooth smallest sprocket – rare gears used only in the steepest of climbs in men’s professional cycling.


“It was funny because at first we thought it was not such a hard race – 90kms with a little humpty-dumpty climb and everyone was talking that it would be a bunch sprint today,” explained Fränk Schleck about the unexpected hard circuit. “Since the start was only at four thirty we had time this morning to check out the course. And when I saw it I thought, 'Oh my god, it’s going to be one of these days – a nightmare!’


“First of all I don’t like these short stages and it was also bumpy, dangerous roads, a really, really fast downhill with a lot of corners, and then this steep punchy climb at the end, not long, but one for real punchers. The parcours was just down, up, down, up. It was just about being well placed at the bottom of the downhill before the climb each time.”


There was no hiding in such a tough course – after six completed circuits and the breakaway tamed, the strongest legs came to the fore for the final steep climb to the finish.



Trek Factory Racing did a great job leading Leonardo Basso and Fränk Schleck through the fast downhill turns and into good position ahead of the final time up the “wall” to the line.  


With such a steep finish time gaps were inevitable, but both Basso and Schleck powered to 6th and 8th places respectively, only a few seconds after Canadian Michael Woods (Optum-Kelly Benefit Strategies) snatched the win with a late attack that no one could react to.


“The boys brought me to the front in the last corner just before the climb, I was like 20th position so I was in good position, but then like 20-25 people passed me before the corner, it was crazy, and I lost a lot of spots so I had to sprint back to the front in the first part of the climb," Shcleck said.


“The team did a great job today to bring me to the front numerous times, it was very tricky and dangerous. Here it’s not as controlled as in the WorldTour races, which we are more used to. There are smaller teams here and they just go bananas, they attack left and right.”



Basso (7th at 14 seconds) and Schleck (10th at 17 seconds) moved into the top 10 overall ahead of the queen stage Saturday, followed by one more punishing circuit race Sunday.


“I think we managed pretty well today. It was short and I think not too many expected it to be this hard. I am looking forward to tomorrow – it’s a very hard day, but I am feeling good and the good thing is everyone will feel the altitude the same,” said Schleck.



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