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8/11/2013 - NEWS!

Danielson wins Tour of Utah

Mancebo celebrates victory in final stage

 

Francisco Mancebo (5-hour Energy/Kenda) took the final stage win of the 2013 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah Sunday in Park City after spending most of the day in a breakaway of 15 riders that got away 16km into the race. Mancebo beat Jamis-Hagens Berman's Janier Acevedo in a two-up sprint, followed closely by Garmin-Sharp's Tom Danielson, who dropped race leader Chris Horner (Radioshack-Leopard) on the final climb up Empire Pass to take the overall win.

Mancebo dedicated his stage win to teammate, Nate English, who was seriously injured in a late-race crash during stage 2. English, who was unconscious for several minutes after the crash, had to be airlifted to a Salt Lake City hospital and suffered multiple broke bones and lacerations. His team said Sunday that he is expected to make a full recovery.

"This race is for my teammate who had a bad crash the second day," Mancebo said. "And I win it for him."

Danielson also praised his team's work on the final day and said he takes a lot of pride in the win after several years of struggling for results.

"I was very proud of myself, because it takes a lot of mental strength to go up against a competitor like Chris [Horner]," he said. "It would have been really easy for me to just sit behind and try to hang on, but I owed it to myself to try and be the person that I want to be and take the bulls by the horn and do it. So I'm really proud, and I dedicate that one to my teammates, who have basically stuck with me the last years and tried to help me do that many times when I didn't do it. So I'm very happy to finally do it."

Breakaway rides to Empire Pass before race explodes

The 125km loop that started and finished in the 2002 Winter Olympic venue offered up 2,326 meters of climbing over two major ascents before a harrowing 8.5km freefall to the finish. The field shuffled and reshuffled several times before the breakaway of 15 riders got away and quickly started building its gap.

Among the escapees were Mancebo; Jakub Novak of BMC; Baden Cooke and Michael Matthews of Orica-GreenEdge; Ted King of Cannondale; Kiel Reijnen of UnitedHealthcare; Martin Wesemann of MTN-Qhubeka; Jason McCartney of Bissell; Tyler Wren and Luis Amaran of Jamis; Tanner Putt and Jasper Stuyven of Bontrager; Joey Rosskopf and Joe Lewis of Hincapie Sportswear; and Alexander Hagman of Jelly Belly.

Mancebo briefly left the breakaway behind before the first KOM in the gated community of Wolf Creek Ranch about 60km into the race, but his move was short lived as the rest of the group soon brought him back and reloaded for the day's major obstacle, the out-of-category climb up Empire Pass that started just after the day's second intermediate sprint in the town of Midway.

The group held an advantage of nearly three minutes at the bottom of the pass when Matthews, who took both of the day's intermediate dashes and earned the final sprint jersey for his troubles, attacked and brought Novak, Cooke, Ted King, Tyler Wren, Stuyven and Mancebo with him. The rest of the break began to shatter, as did the chasing peloton under pressure from Garmin and Danielson.

Horner said the difference between his win in front of Danielson on stage 5 and Danielson's success on stage 6 came down to the tactics at the bottom of the final ascent.

"[Danielson] was stronger than me yesterday, too," Horner said. "He just had to do more work than me. He had to do the whole bottom. Here his team did the bottom and then he was able to get the gap. Garmin did the job at the bottom to really put everyone in the red and allow Danielson to get away."

Danielson's efforts in the middle of the climb whittled his own group down to himself, his teammate, Peter Stetina, Horner and Horner's teammate, Matthew Busche. While at the front of the race, Matthews surged again out of the six rider lead group, and only Mancebo could stick with him.

Matthews momentarily dropped Mancebo on the steep slopes of Empire while Danielson surged away from his group and was momentarily shadowed by Busche, who soon dropped back to help Horner. Mancebo, meanwhile, had caught and passed Matthews, while Danielson continued to sweep up the remnants of the breakaway and press his advantage over Horner.

When Danielson eventually caught Mancebo just before the summit of the climb, he wasted little time dropping the Spanish rider. In the chase down the mountain, United Healthcare's Lucas Euser, who started the day third overall, had joined the Horner group.

When Danielson summited the pass with 8.4km remaining to the finish, Horner's group was still 1km from the top, and the Garmin rider started the descent alone. Mancebo tenaciously descended his way back to the leader, and it looked as though the two would ride into the finish together.

"When Danielson passed me, I knew I was very close to the top," Mancebo said. "And the climb was not that steep at the time. And so I tried to keep my own pace and tried to fight so Danielson wouldn't get too far away. I knew I had a chance to catch him on the descent. I knew Danielson was not going to take chances because he was going for the GC. I was willing to take risks if it was needed."

But before the lead duo hit the bottom, Acevedo caught them and shot past like a rocket. The duo quickly got back on terms with the Colombian climber, but Danielson was more than happy to let the two others fight it out for the stage win on the remaining downhill run into Park City.

"I was being very conservative on the descent," Danielson said. "I knew I needed to go just fast enough that if I had flat tire or a mechanical I could get a bike change or something and be alright, but I needed to go slow enough that I didn't land in a ditch. I wanted to see all the rocks on the road. I just took it real conservative.

"I wasn't surprised to see Paco [Mancebo] there," Danielson continued. "But I was surprised to see [Acevedo]. He's a great rider and he obviously did a fantastic climb to get third overall. I definitely was not going to get in their way for contesting the stage. They can sprint into that downhill corner all day long. That's fine with me."

The Spaniard and the Colombian approached the line neck and neck, with an obviously ecstatic Mancebo posting up for the win.

"It was a surprise to see Acevedo in the last 3km," Mancebo said. "He passed us very fast and he almost touched my wheel, but I liked it that Acevedo did what all the Colombians do and did not win the sprint."

Danielson crossed the line four seconds later to take his first major stage race win on American soil by 1:29 over Horner and 1:37 over Acevedo.

Despite having lost his overall race lead in the last 15km of the race, Horner said he was happy with the week's effort and the final result.

"Today [Garmin] played it the right way, actually, just to drill it at the bottom so they could get Danielson loose," Horner said. "I knew he was good yesterday. So I'm not surprised and I'm not disappointed. I got a jersey, a stage and I'm on the podium. It's the first race back in five months. Life's good."

Danielson said the win in Utah was the result of a conscious effort to change his attitude after some soul searching following days of getting his "head kicked in" during a difficult Tour de France.

"I don't like to just be a guy in the peloton," he said. "So I decided this would be a good race for me to try [to win the race]. And then we had Lachlan [Morton] doing really well, so I gave a hand to him yesterday, but when I had my opportunity I took it."

Read more on: Cyclingnews.com

 

Francisco Mancebo (5-Hour Energy p/b Kenda) celebrates as he crosses the finish line first on the final stage of the Tour of Utah

Photo: © Jonathan Devich/epicimages.us




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