Bookwalter Battles to Second Place on Final Day in Utah12. August 2018, Park City, Utah (USA) — Road Team
Brent Bookwalter honored the BMC Racing Team jersey on the final day at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah with an impressive ride that saw the American claim second place on the stage and move into fourth place overall, in what was the last race in America for the team this season.
Bookwalter started the day in sixth place, 2’27” behind race leader Sepp Kuss (Team LottoNL-Jumbo), but with two categorized climbs, including the brutal 12.6km Empire Pass climb, a shake up in the General Classification was likely.
It was a battle for the breakaway with attack after attack brought back until 15 riders went clear just before the intermediate sprint in Kamas after 32km, of the 126.1km stage.
Bookwalter remained in the peloton, surrounded by his teammates, where Kuss’ teammates set the pace and allowed the breakaway to gain a maximum advantage of four minutes.
Approaching the final 50km, there was movement in the breakaway with various riders trying their luck with attacks in anticipation of the Empire Pass climb while behind, the peloton slowly started to bring the breakaway back.
Seven riders remained from the breakaway as they reached the base of the 12.6km hors categorie climb, with an average gradient of 7.5 percent, and immediately the steep gradient took its toll on both the breakaway and the peloton, when they started the climb 2’30” behind.
Bookwalter was in the mix in the General Classification group which quickly decreased in size in the first kilometer of climbing.
Up ahead, Nate Brown (EF Education First-Drapac) attacked from the breakaway to lead the race solo and behind, Jack Haigh (Mitchelton-SCOTT) and Kuss made a move, at which point Bookwalter settled into his own rhythm on the difficult climb.
Kuss attacked again to catch and overtake Brown with 13km to go and held on to crest the summit of the climb with 9km remaining, before tackling the slippery descent.
Haig, Brown, and Hugh Carthy were in pursuit around 40 seconds behind when suddenly Bookwalter appeared and managed to bridge to the trio in an impressive display of descending.
Bookwalter managed to overtake Brown and Carthy under the flamme rouge and together with Haig, powered to the line to claim second place behind Kuss, who sealed the overall victory with his third stage win.
Ben Hermans (Israel Cycling Academy), who started the day in second place, limited his losses to maintain his podium position, while Haig moved into third place and Bookwalter moved up to fourth overall, 2’40” behind Kuss.
Quotes from the Finish Line
“I’m feeling pretty good about the stage. We stuck to the plan. Of course we have a limited roster but all of the guys did really good work and stepped up, with Alex going to get bottles, Kilian, who is normally more at home on the climbs, riding a really good position for me into the climbs, Joey finishing that off, and then Tejay staying with me as long as could. It was an honor and pleasure to have the guys rallying behind me and I was motivated and inspired to try and do a good one for them, knowing they were working for me and doing their best to help me.”
“I knew from yesterday that I probably couldn’t match these guys on the climb, as far as pure power and speed uphill. But, I knew from my experience on this climb that if I stayed close, I could attack over the top and try my luck on the downhill and run into Park City. I was hoping that Sepp [Kuss] wouldn’t be so offensive and I could play for the stage win a little more. But, he showed again that he outclassed us all on the climb and that advantage was just a little too big to claw back on the descent. But we executed our plan and stayed really close. I was so at my limit that I was thinking I had to abort my plan to attack in the downhill as I was really whacked from coming back to those guys over the top of the climb, but I kept reminding myself that it was probably the last time I would race in the US with BMC across my chest so I wanted to leave it all out there and have no regrets.”
“For me, the rain didn’t change anything. I was really confident in my equipment and the mechanics, staff and the prep, and my experience on the downhill. I nursed some of those corners a little more than I normally would in the dry but other than that, I went for it. I didn’t feel like I was taking any unnecessary risks. “I’m happy with how the race went. I was a little off what I hoped to be in the prologue but seeing how the week played out, I was still pretty good on the long climbs which was what I was working towards coming into this race, not only for Utah but also the hope that I’ll be at the Vuelta a Espana. I lost a little bit in that prologue, but played a good support role for Tejay while he was in the jersey, and then tried to refocus and do the best ride that I could for the remaining stages.”
Jackson Stewart, Sports Director:
“We knew that Brent would have to approach the climb at his own pace, and no go really aggressively with the other guys, similar to yesterday. He knew what he wanted to do, we talked in the race meeting, he wanted to attack over the top and take advantage on the descent. So, the race played out in front of him and then he took advantage of the situation and attacked the front, and it looks like he did a great descent. Brent moved up to fourth on GC and second on the day, he could see Kuss, so he must have done a great descent in the wet conditions.”
“Starting out with a stage win and a podium result today on the stage, has been a good way to start and end the race. Traditionally, we get a few stage wins here and contest the GC. We thought we may have a chance of winning the GC this year but that’s how it goes and I think we can be happy with our week for sure.”
Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah
Stage 6 Park City > Park City (126.1km)
Top 3: 1. Sepp Kuss (Team LottoNL-Jumbo), 2. Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team), 3. Jack Haig (Mitchelton-SCOTT).
BMC Racing Team top 3: 2. Brent Bookwalter, 15. Joey Rosskopf, 25. Kilian Frankiny
Top 3 on GC: 1. Sepp Kuss (Team LottoNL-Jumbo), 2. Ben Hermans (Israel Cycling Academy), 3. Jack Haig (Mitchelton-SCOTT).