Christian Vande Velde laid claim to the overall leader’s jersey in the desert west of Salt Lake City Wednesday after Garmin-Sharp won the stage 2 team time trial at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. Vande Velde was the first rider across the line for Garmin, earning him the overall lead with four days of racing remaining.
“It’s great. It’s something we’ve always looked forward to since 2008, since we started this team,” said Vande Velde. “When you have a lot of confidence going into an event like today, I think it takes a lot of pressure off. You know that you can do well. And I know what Dave Zabriskie’s going to do before he does it. I know what Tyler (Farrar) is going to do before he does it… we’ve done a ton of events together.”
The 13-mile team time trial took place on the auto racing track at the Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah, the long-standing site of the individual TT at the Tour of Utah. The circuitous track carried riders in and out of a stiff wind, testing not only stamina, but mental strength as well.
“Out here at Miller Motorsports Park is a true test,” said Liquigas-Cannondale’s Timmy Duggan. “Every 200 meters, you’re changing. The wind is changing, the direction of the course is changing. It’s really up to the individual rider, every time they hit the front and pull off to have a mind for the team behind them.”
Garmin, whose precision has landed the team wins against the clock at the Giro d’Italia and Tour de France, proved strongest in both regards and aced the desert test. Rabobank came through second fastest, at :32, with RadioShack-Nissan third, at :37.
“You win team time trials not by going extremely fast, but by never going slowly. It’s about keeping a constant level,” said Garmin director Charly Wegelius. “These guys have got a lot of experience and even our weakest riders are extremely strong. It’s a luxury, really.”
U.S. Continental squad Bissell impressed with fourth on the stage, 50 seconds off the Garmin pace.
Overnight leader Rory Sutherland’s UnitedHealthcare squad lost 52 seconds, good for fifth on the stage, and the Aussie ceded the yellow jersey.
But the biggest loser on the day was defending champion Levi Leipheimer, whose six-rider Omega Pharma-Quick Step squad imploded around him and lost more than two minutes. Afterward, the two-time Utah champ wrote on Twitter:
Things came unraveled for us out there today @theTourofUtah It is what it is. Tomorrow we have to hit the reset button.
Garmin will pack the top of the overall standings heading into Thursday’s third stage, with Tom Danielson, Peter Stetina and Dave Zabriskie each tied, unofficially, on time with the Illinois native.
1. Garmin-Sharp in 22:35
2. Rabobank at :32
3. RadioShack-Nissan at :37