PARK CITY — Saturday’s Tour of Utah stage found 11 riders getting into a breakaway. The peloton lagged far behind, eventually allowing the riders to jump five minutes ahead. While visions of grandeur typically accompany breakaway riders, rarely do they make it to the finish line before the leaders catch and pass them.
With the peloton still trailing by four minutes as the lead group entered Olympic Parkway, Lachlan Morton of EF Education First and Bridgelane rider Hayden McCormick turned the stage into a two-man battle. After summiting the Utah Olympic Park climb, the two riders sizzled down Bear Hollow Drive, hitting the slight incline to Canyons Village in a dead heat. Morton pulled ahead in the final meters, just holding off the hard-charging finish of McCormick in what turned out to be a photo finish win for the Australian rider.
“The thing about riding at this altitude is you can pick up speed really fast. We got a little loose on the corners but it was a really nice finish so overall I liked the stage.” — Lachlan Morton
“I wasn’t feeling very good the first few days of the race,” Morton said. “Last night something just clicked and I felt pretty good all day.”
Fans may remember McCormick from Friday’s Salt Lake City stage, when the rider raised his hands in victory with one lap to go. On Saturday, riding with fire in his belly, McCormick came up just short for the stage win as a measure of redemption. Although he was inches away from claiming the stage win, McCormick did vault into the King-of-the-Mountain jersey by day’s end.
“I come into every stage motivated and today the main goal was to win that KOM jersey,” McCormick said.
McCormick is from New Zealand and rides for an Australian team, Bridgelane.
“Obviously when I got into the breakaway today the goal shifted to winning the stage, but my mate here won,” he said.
Getting into that breakaway turned out to be the perfect recipe for both riders. Typically, early on in a stage, multiple riders attack, sometimes multiple times before eventually getting away. Morton said Saturday’s break wasn’t typical in that it took 15 km of hard riding before the group was able to pull away from the peloton. Morton also noted getting in the breakaway can be problematic, saying mistakes happen when riders try to do too much.
Several times during the descent down Bear Hollow Drive, Morton and McCormick went on the wrong side of road as flaggers failed to point them to the correct side of the road.
“I knew it was fast but our team manager said it was downhill, with one left turn,” Morton joked.
In fact, Morton knew the finish, saying he rode the final 300 meters of the stage on Saturday morning.
“The thing about riding at this altitude is you can pick up speed really fast,” Morton said. “We got a little loose on the corners but it was a really nice finish so overall I liked the stage.”
Stage 6 – Park City
Park City has hosted a stage in the Tour of Utah 10 times. Sunday marks the seventh time the tour finishes in Park City. Sunday’s race features 78.2 miles with 10,000 feet of climbing. Stage 6 has a little bit of everything, including an early sprint in Kamas. Riders will then tackle a Category 2 climb in Wolf Creek Ranch that reaches a maximum pitch of 22%. Eventually the climbers will come forward as the race finishes with a 6-mile climb along Pine Canyon Road. The Hors Category summit of Empire Pass reaches an elevation of 9,700 feet. After that, a blistering descent down Mine Road will lead riders to finish on Main Street in Park City, in front of what are expected to be thousands of fans.
Stage 5 results:
1. Lachlan Morton, EF Education First 3:05.54
2. Hayden McCormick, Team Bridgelane (same time)
3. Simone Velasco, Neri Sottoli Selle Italia KTM (+18)
4. Marco Canola, Nippo-Vini Fantini-Faizane (+18)
5. Even Huffman, Rally UHC Cycling (+18)
6. Dylan Sutherland, Team Bridgelane (+26)
7. Michael Rice, Hagens Berman Axeon (+29)
8. Samuel Boardman, Wildlife Generation Pro Cycling (+29)
9. Matthew Zimmer, DC Bank Pro Cycling (+31)
10. Bernat Font Mas, 303 Project (+49)
1. Ben Hermans, Israel Cycling Academy 15:34.34
2. James Piccoli, Elevate-KHS (+46)
3. Niklas Eg, Trek-Segafredo (+1:10)
4. Kyle Murphy, Rally UHC Cycling (+1:48)
5. Joe Dombrowski, EF Education First (+2:08)
6. Joao Almeida, Hagens Berman Axeon (+2:34)
7. Peter Stetina, Trek-Segafredo (+2:47)
8. Lawson Craddock, EF Education First (+3:10)
9. Robert Britton, Rally UHC Cycling (+3:53)
10. Matteo Badilatti, Israel Cycling Academy (+4:15)