With David Zabriskie, a three-time defending national time trial champion waiting to leave the start gate at the Tour of Utah prologue, many expected the blazing fast time of 6 minutes, 12 seconds posted by Brent Bookwalter to fall.
It never did.
Zabriskie, a Salt Lake City native racing on his home-town roads and in front of an enthusiastic crowd, stopped the clock at a similarly-quick 6:14. But in a race against the clock, even one as short as the 4.5 kilometer trip around Memory Grove starting and ending at the state Capitol, Zabriskie's two-second difference was more than enough to give the first yellow jersey of the race to Bookwalter.
"I could definitely feel some cobwebs," said Zabriskie, who competed in the Tour de France in July and hasn't had much training time since as he recovered.
Bookwalter, however, felt nothing but power as he led the charge for an impressive showing out the BMC Pro Cycling team. Not only did Bookwalter land on the top step of the podium, but teammate Ian McKissick sits in third at 6:15 while Chris Barton wears the best young rider (U-23) jersey after hitting the line at 6:16 — the same time as defending Tour of Utah champion and fellow BMC strongman Jeff Louder.
Part of the reason behind Bookwalter's victory was his familiarity with the road. The 25-year-old from Tennessee has been living in Salt Lake City for more than a month, training with Louder and focusing on the Tour of Utah. The BMC team, which just finished spending a week in Alta as a training base, frequently used Canyon Road around Memory Grove as a cool-down on group rides.
"We call this part of the Louder Loop," Bookwalter said.
"That helped me a lot."
Zabriskie, who has had a tumultuous summer in which his house was broken into and robbed while he was away racing, said he's satisfied with his result and is looking forward to getting more racing in under his belt before heading off to the national pro championships next week.
"It's been very difficult for me to get out on the bike," Zabriskie said. "Things haven't been too conducive for me to go bike riding."
The race continues today with an 85-mile ride from Ogden to the University of Utah's Research Park with detours through Snowbasin, Morgan and Emigration Canyon.
In news regarding the future of the race, Larry H. Miller Group CEO Greg Miller said he fully intends to sponsor the race again in 2010.
"We are happily engaged in this race," Miller said, noting there will always be a need for co-sponsors to help fund the event. "As long as they're willing to help shoulder the load we intend to continue the race."
In fact, Tour of Utah executive director Terry McGinnis said, the race would like to grow a little larger with an extra day or two of racing in future years and hopefully a spot on the international UCI racing calendar.
"That's Greg's vision of the race and mine as well," McGinnis said. "We will look very hard at doing that in 2011."
Tour of Utah
Today: Stage One — Ogden to Salt Lake 137 km (85 mi)
Start: 11:00 a.m. ?— Estimated finish: 2:30 p.m.
Get live race updates at twitter.com/jaredebornHeady