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Tour of Utah: Travis McCabe thrills Layton crowd with wild sprint victory

LAYTON — For the second time in three days, United Health Care’s Travis McCabe showed he is the top sprinter in the 2018 Tour of Utah. McCabe was dominant in a Stage 1 win in Cedar City. On Thursday, the UHC sprinter put his head down and gave a ramped-up Layton crowd a spectacular finish. McCabe just edged Hagens Berman Axeon sprinter Jasper Philipsen.

Thousands of fans gathered in the area know as Layton Commons to cheer on a Tour field that made eight, 5k circuits to end the race. Stage winner McCabe said the Layton crowd was simply deafening.

“It was just a roar,” McCabe said. “You can’t hear the spectators, you can’t hear the announcers. You just have that long stretch where you can’t hear anything and it’s fun.”

McCabe took the lead Thursday with about 200 meters and looked like he’d comfortably win the stage. Philipsen crept up on McCabe’s shoulder, hovered there for a second, and lost a stage victory by a matter of inches.

“With our team, the plan was to come at the very last moment,” Philipsen said. “For an under-23 team, we don’t have the force of the big teams so we have one shot at the end and I’m so proud of the guys and they put me in perfect position.”

The Tour's defending champion, Rally Cycling’s Rob Britton, lost two minutes on the climb up Mount Nebo Wednesday. On Thursday, Britton managed to get in a 10-man breakaway that stayed clear most of the day. As the riders entered the first of five circuits, UHC’s Jonathon Clark and Britton attempted a two-man breakaway that was eventually absorbed by a hard-charging peloton with Lotto NL-Jumbo protecting the yellow jersey of Sepp Kuss.

“It wasn’t the plan for me to get in the break,” Britton said. “The break was very disorganized, it was a really hot day so it was nice to have the car right there to have water and ice.”

After Friday’s Stage 4 circuit race, Britton says he looks forward to the mountains and moving teammate Kyle Murphy up and potentially onto the podium by Sunday’s finale.

“Going into the weekend we have Kyle Murphy up there,” Britton said. “The team is riding pretty good and I think we are in really good position to try and move Kyle up on the podium.”

Stage 4 in Salt Lake City: Friday’s start/finish line has moved from the Capitol to Main Street. The riders will tackle 10, 6.8-mile circuits. The course starts and finishes at 215 North Main Street as riders follow the traditional route through Bonneville Parkway to 11th Avenue before riding down through Virginia Avenue, through the University of Utah to South Temple, where riders will turn up State Street to North Temple and to the uphill finish on Main Street.

With mountain stages looming on Saturday and Sunday, Britton said he expects a similarly paced finish Friday as temperatures soar into the mid-90s.

“It’s a heavy course and it just wears on you,” Britton said. “It’s so fast in the last two laps we could see a top-5 finish very much similar to the one we saw today.”

For Tour of Utah Hospitality Manager and life-long Layton resident Joni Scoffield, Thursday’s stage finish meant a lot to her community. Thousands gathered in the area known as Layton Commons that once provided housing for Hill Air Force Base pilots.

“I’ve lived in Layton all my life and as our town is getting bigger we are getting more of these events,” Scoffield said. “It is fun to see the enthusiasm and know that this event is going on in my hometown.”

General Classification standings:

  1. Sepp Kuss, Lotto NL-Jumbo
  2. Neilson Powless, 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. John Hugh Carthy, EF-Drapac 38”
  9. Jack Haig, Mitchelton-Scott 40”
  10. Brent Bookwalter, BMC Racing 40”