Organizers of the 2014 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah revealed the detailed race route Wednesday that will establish it as the longest pro cycling stage race in North America in 2014, with 753.8 miles and 57,863 feet of vertical gain in seven days of racing.
Sixteen teams will contest the Tour of Utah, scheduled for August 4-10, including Belkin, BMC Racing, Cannondale, Garmin-Sharp, Lampre-Merida, and Trek Factory Racing.
The race will begin in southern Utah for a second consecutive year and will roll north through 12 host cities and venues in Utah and Wyoming.
Along with two mountaintop finishes this year (stages 4 and 6), the route will pass or finish near seven ski resorts, from Brian Head in the south to the new finish at Powder Mountain in the north.
At 10,759 feet above sea level, Bald Mountain Pass on Stage 5 will be the highest point ever crossed by the peloton at the Tour of Utah.
“The Tour of Utah will achieve multiple first-time superlatives in the 10th edition of the race,” said Steve Miller, president of Miller Sports Properties, which organizes the race. “For the first time, the race has been expanded to seven days. We will surpass the milestones of 750 miles and 57,000 feet of climbing. We have expanded the route beyond Utah’s borders. However, the iconic red rock scenery, national forests and mountain passes remain as the foundation of an awe-inspiring course for our spectators and cyclists to experience.”
The Tour of Utah was elevated in 2011 by the UCI to a 2.1-rated stage race. Sanctioned by both USA Cycling and the UCI, the Tour of Utah continues as one of the top four UCI America Tour events covering a full week of racing in North America in 2014.
Host venues for 2014 are Cedar City, Panguitch, Torrey, Lehi, Miller Motorsports Park, Ogden, Powder Mountain, Evanston (Wyoming), Kamas, Salt Lake City, Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, and Park City.
“This event continues to raise the bar as America’s Toughest Stage Race,” said Jeff Robbins, president and CEO of the Utah Sports Commission. “With stage 3 returning to Miller Motorsports Park, one of Utah’s many world-class venues will be highlighted and showcased around the world.”
The Utah Sports Commission, a founding partner of the Tour, is the presenting sponsor for stage 3 and all 14 sprint lines along the course. The additional stages in the Tour of Utah are presented by Zions Bank, iON Camera, Workers Compensation Fund, Subaru, University of Utah Health Care, and VLCM and Barracuda Networks. The Ski Utah King of the Mountain (KOM) climbs are sponsored by the Utah Office of Tourism.
Stage 1: Monday, August 4
The Tour of Utah opens with a new 113.5-mile course that starts and ends in Cedar City. The peloton of more than 120 professional cyclists will head northwest through the Red Hills of the Escalante Desert in southern Utah. The race will pass through the Parowan Gap, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its ancient Native American petroglyphs. Once the race enters the town of Parowan, riders leave behind the flats of the west desert and start a mountain climb up Parowan Canyon to Brian Head, the home of Utah’s highest-elevation ski resort. The race will pass through Cedar Breaks National Monument and pass a new section of vast lava fields along Mammoth Creek. After cresting the second KOM of the day on Cedar Canyon Highway, the race will descend nearly 4,000 feet through Cedar Canyon to the large crowds that await in Cedar City. Spectators will see the racers navigate three circuits around Cedar City and Southern Utah University before the finish on Main Street. Sprinters who hang on through the mountains and 5,706 feet of climbing have a chance to pull on the Larry H. Miller Dealerships leader’s jersey on Stage 1.
Stage 2: Tuesday, August 5
Amazing views and rugged challenges along Scenic Byway 12 return this year as part of the 130.7-mile stage from Panguitch to Torrey. The race takes a northerly serpentine path through Red Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the Dixie National Forest. Racers will encounter 10,162 feet of climbing on this longest stage of the week, passing the scenic towns of Tropic, Escalante and Boulder. After cresting the fourth KOM of the day at Boulder Mountain, the peloton will cover 20 miles along the shadow of Capital Reef National Park for a sprint finish under the canopy of cottonwood trees on Main Street of Torrey.
Stage 3: Wednesday, August 6
The Tour returns to its roots in Lehi and Utah County for stage 3, where the first edition started 10 years ago near the Thanksgiving Point Museum and Gardens. After a start at the headquarters of IM Flash Technologies, the course turns south to follow the western shores of Utah Lake. This 118.3-mile stage winds into the East Tintic Mountains for the day’s only KOM segment in Eureka, a mining “ghost town” listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On the way to the fast finish at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, the race continues through the west desert and along many of the same routes used by the Pony Express. The venue for the finish will be great for spectators, hosted at this state-of-the-art road racing facility that was completed in 2006 for automobiles, motorcycles and karts. Cyclists will ride three circuits along the twists and turns of the 2.2-mile East Track at Miller Motorsports Park. It will be a full day at Miller Motorsports Park, with two other cycling events at the complex — the inaugural Tour of Utah Women’s Edition taking place from noon-2 p.m., and the Chase Pinkham Memorial Criterium for amateur men, women, and juniors taking place from 5-8:30 p.m.
Stage 4: Thursday, August 7
The Tour of Utah returns to Ogden for a sixth time for the start of stage 4. Known as the “Crossroads of the West,” Ogden previously hosted the Tour in 2012 with two stages. The start of the 104.7-mile stage will take place on Historic 25th Street in downtown Ogden. The route travels through the Ogden Valley toward the North Ogden Divide for the first of two ascents. The first of three KOMs will be on the slopes of the North Ogden Divide, a tough 5km climb with an average gradient of 10 percent. The race circumnavigates Pineview Reservoir as it passes under the ski slopes of Snowbasin and Wolf Mountain. The race then descends Ogden Canyon for another trip though the city of Ogden and a second climb up North Ogden Divide. The first big shakeup in the General Classification could happen on the slopes of the first mountaintop finish of the week at Powder Mountain, one of the toughest climbs in Utah. This new addition to the Tour ascends over 3,000 feet in just six miles. And to make it even tougher, the road lacks switchbacks, forcing riders to stare down this beast of a climb with every crank of their pedals.
Stage 5: Friday, August 8
For the first time in race history, the Tour of Utah will extend beyond the state borders. Evanston, Wyoming will host the stage start for 101.4 miles to Kamas. Evanston and Kamas are the two gateway cities to the High Uintas Wilderness and beautiful Mirror Lake Scenic Byway (State Road 150). Heading south on Mirror Lake Highway, the peloton can expect to confront strong Wyoming prairie winds before beginning the long ascent to the lone KOM of the day at Bald Mountain Pass. At 10,759 feet above sea level, Bald Mountain Pass is the highest point the Tour of Utah has ever reached. The route continues with a long 30-mile descent into the Kamas valley, which has been part of every Tour of Utah since 2006. Spectators will see the peloton twice in Kamas, as the race will pass through the classic western downtown for a circuit through Oakley and Peoa then return to the finish. The riders will get their first taste of the wild west on Woodenshoe Lane in Peoa, with a two-mile stretch of dirt road less than 10 miles from the final sprint in Kamas.
Stage 6: Saturday, August 9
The “Queen Stage” not only covers new territory on the 107.2-mile route, but has also added more climbing this year. Close to 13,000 feet of elevation gain and four KOMs will make stage 6 a true challenge for the riders, and 7,000 feet of climbing will take place in the final 35 miles after passing through Park City. Salt Lake City will host the start for both events outside Rice-Eccles Stadium, the site of the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics, and home to University of Utah football games. Riders will begin climbing almost immediately with the gradual ascent up Emigration Canyon, followed by the tougher climb on Big Mountain. The race will travel through rural Morgan and Summit counties before reaching the resort town of Park City and making the arduous ascent over Guardsman Pass, with an 11-percent gradient. Following a 14-mile descent through Big Cottonwood Canyon, the route concludes with the legendary six-mile climb into Little Cottonwood Canyon for the finish at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. This is another day for the climbers of the Tour, and a special day for amateur cyclists. This is the fifth year for The Ultimate Challenge presented by University of Utah Health Care and Utah National Guard. The Ultimate Challenge (www.rideuc.com) has a rolling start from 6-7 a.m. at Rice-Eccles Stadium, with the Tour of Utah beginning at 10:50 a.m.
Stage 7: Sunday, August 10
For a fourth time, the Tour of Utah returns to Park City for the grand finale. This is far from a processional victory lap for the overall winner of the Larry H. Miller Dealerships leader’s jersey, which can be decided on the final KOM over Empire Pass into downtown Park City. This 78-mile stage was introduced in 2013, rolling out of Park City into rural, eastern Summit County. Through Wolf Creek Ranches, the racers will face a short but punishing climb with steep pitches of nearly 20 percent. In Wasatch County, the race continues through the towns of Heber City and Midway. It is just outside of Midway where the racers are faced with the toughest challenge of the entire seven-day event, the climb up Empire Pass. In just three years, Empire Pass has become legendary for its average gradient of 10 percent and sections that exceed 20 percent. Huge crowds in historic Park City on lower Main Street are expected to return for the overall finish of the 2014 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.
“I’d say Empire Pass is probably my favorite climb in the entire world,” said 2013 Tour of Utah champion Tom Danielson (Garmin). “It’s really, really steep, so you are using arms, and that takes a lot of oxygen out of your body that you have to use for your legs. So it really puts a strain on your lungs and makes it a unique climb.”
Detailed maps and videos for race week are now available at the official web site, tourofutah.com.