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Tour of Utah: Queen Stage

Crazy to think just a week ago at this time, I was in Logan at the Tour of Utah Team Presentation. Sad to think that tomorrow at this time, the 2015 Tour of Utah will be over. Today's Queen Stage was very telling and if Joe Dombrowski holds his form, I predict he'll be going home in yellow.

I woke up conflicted on the best approach to watch the Queen Stage. I could drive back to SLC for the Sign-in and Start, then either make a beeline back to Park City for Guardsman Pass KOM or stay in the valley and go to the Finish at Snowbird. Although I really enjoy the Start atmosphere, I knew I'd be doing that on Stage 7, so I opted for another approach. I drove to the intersection between the first 2 climbs of the day, Little Mountain and Big Mountain.  I positioned myself on the inside corner and was treated to some awesome speed and bike handling skills.

Gorgeous Day for a Bike Race
3 Leaders - Between Little and Big Mountain
Peloton Chasing
As soon as the caravan passed, I jumped in the truck and drove to Guardsman. I started encountering Ultimate Challenge riders and had a slow but entertaining drive as I rang the cowbell and shouted encouragement. After doing this ride last year, I knew exactly how much pain some of the riders were in. I drove up and over Empire Pass but parked at the base of Guardsman. This way, Terry could transition from bike to hike after his ride and I could get in a nice hike to the KOM. 

Driving up Guardsman
With my cowbell strapped to my camelback, I simultaneously hiked and gave More Cowbell to the riders while keeping my hands free. The headwinds and ominous storm clouds were concerning after last night's stage, but we were blessed by the cycling gods and never felt a drop. The atmosphere at the top was KOM worthy, but the action was actually at 250 meters to go on the steepest and roughest part of the Guardsman climb. I set up shop, got to know my neighbors, cheered on the Ultimate Challenge riders, and sent out tweets.

Guardsman Pass starts Steep and stays Steep - saw lots of paper boys before the pros arrived
Weather looking iffy as the hike continues
More Cowbell for Ultimate Challenge and More Clouds
1K to KOM
1K to KOM looking back to Empire Pass
250M to KOM - STEEP and ROUGH
Guardsman KOM - flat and smooth
KOM View back to Empire Pass
Ready to Cowbell
Chalk is Ready
Last Minute Chalk

We had cell coverage and Tour Tracker on so knew what was happening, but seeing the helicopter on top of Empire Pass sent us all into a frenzy! The break came by and then multiple groups as the peloton had shattered on the climb. Once the broom wagon passed, we packed up and hiked back to the truck serenaded by Tour Tracker's Frankie and Tim as the race flew up Little Cottonwood to the Finish at Snowbird.

2 Leaders - Joey Rosskopf (BMC Racing Team), Rob Britton (Team SmartStop)
2 Chasers - Ben King (Cannondale-Garmin), Flavio  De Luna (Team SmartStop)
Field led by Team Colombia
Back of Field
Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing Team) - Fan Favorite from Stage 5
Hike Back Down - Looking toward Midway

Tomorrow, we'll hit the Start and Sign-In to get a feel for the teams and riders. You can tell a lot from the mood around the team vans/busses and their interviews with Brad and Dave. We'll also check out the Lifestyle Expo, since we've been too busy the last week to enjoy. After the Start, we plan to ride to Empire Pass to see the final KOM. All the contenders will be attacking Joe and his Cannondale-Garmin team to try and take away the yellow. It's going to be an epic Stage 7.

Last Switchback on Empire Pass

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