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Tour of Utah: Philipsen edges McCabe in sizzling Salt Lake sprint finish

SALT LAKE CITY — After 10 laps on a 6.8-mile circuit of Salt Lake City, Friday’s Stage 4 of the Tour of Utah came down to a difference of 15 millimeters. Twenty-year-old Jasper Philipsen, riding for the Axeon Hagens Berman team, won the stage, flipping the script from Thursday by nipping United Health Care rider Travis McCabe at the finish line.

While the final thousand meters of Friday’s race featured three technically challenging turns, Philipsen stayed on the wheel of his teammates. After getting nipped at the line Thursday, Philipsen pulled alongside McCabe with 20 meters to go and had just enough acceleration to get his first ever stage win in the United States.

“At the beginning of the week I didn’t win a race but every day I felt my form growing,” Philipsen said. “Today was the day that it came together and I had the guys on my team led me out perfectly.”

McCabe, with his two wins this week became the all-time leading stage winner of the Tour of Utah (4 stage wins). On Friday, knowing Philipsen would beat him in a short sprint, McCabe launched from about 200 meters. McCabe said he felt Philipsen but couldn’t hold off the hard-charging 20-year-old.

“I’m happy with second place and it was a hard, hard fight,” McCabe said. “Jasper got me at the line and it came down to a bike throw.”

McCabe called the Salt Lake City crowd one of the best and noted all of the spectators lined along the course as being awesome. He said it was exciting to high-five the fans at the end.

“I had no idea he was coming until I felt him on my shoulder,” McCabe said. “I think it's pretty exciting for everyone to watch a 68-mile race and see it come down to a few millimeters.

Trek Segafredo rider Kiel Reijnen followed Philipsen and McCabe to the line earning a podium appearance after battling sickness earlier in the week. Reijnen said he approved of the uphill finish and the quirky dynamics of the races last 1000 meters.

“I think the start/finish line was significantly different and quicker than it was three years ago,” he said. “Those last three turns were funky and there was more motivation from sprinters to keep things steady and together.”

With ten laps of racing, a group of 13-riders attacked on the first circuit. St. George resident and Holowesko Citadel rider, TJ Eisenhart was in that group that could never gain more than about a minute on the main field. With temperatures in the mid 90’s and even hotter on the pavement, Team Lotto NL-Jumbo paid attention to that break to protect the 19-second lead of race leader, Sepp Kuss.

This is the fifth year the Salt Lake City circuit race has been held. While it gives the spectators an opportunity to see the action on multiple circuits, it also gives the riders a chance to appreciate the city and the fans.

“I’ve always been a huge advocate for circuit racing and I think it is more fun for the fans,” Reijnen said. “Circuit races are shorter and more tactically interesting.”

For Reijnen, getting to see and hear the fans is special.

“Without the fans we’re just a bunch of dudes in spandex riding around in circles,” he said. “When the town comes out and supports you and you hear your name, to me, that’s super inspiring.”

Stage 5 preview: Known as the Queen Stage riders being Saturday’s stage at Canyon Village Resort in Park City. The final climb up to Snowbird has become legendary as rider’s finish with a Hors Category climb up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Snowbird.

Hors Category Climb: Most climbs are designated from Category 1 (hardest) to Category 4 (easiest), based on both steepness and length. A climb that is harder than Category 1 is designated as hors catégorie.

Tour of Utah overall standings:

  1. Sepp Kuss, Team Lotto NL-Jumbo
  2. Neilson Powless, Team Lotto NL-Jumbo 19”
  3. Tejay Van Garderen, BMC Racing 25”
  4. Michael Woods, EF-Drapac 36”
  5. Kyle Murphy, Rally Cycling 37”
  6. Joe Dombrowski, EF-Drapac 38”
  7. Gavin Mannion, United Health Care 38”
  8. Hugh John Carthy, EF-Drapac 38”
  9. Jack Haig, Mitchelton-Scott 40”
  10. Brent Bookwalter, BMC Racing 40”