Rob Britton takes fifth at the Tour of Utah, proving that he is one is the best riders in North America (and that Rally Cycling has one of the best teams). Along with this top finish, Britton also claimed the Most Aggressive Rider title for the final stage. The seven-day stage race covered nearly 1,000 kilometers with over 53,000 ft of climbing. Starting in the majestic Zion National Park and concluding in the resort town of Park City, the Tour of Utah is known as America’s toughest stage race.
While the first two stages of the race were intended for the sprinters, the mountainous terrain put many of them in difficulty before the stage finales. Despite the team’s best efforts, the podium was elusive. It wasn’t until stage three on the ascent of Mount Nebo that the team’s hard work finally began to pay off; it was here that Britton was able to establish the foundation for his high overall finish. On the lower slopes of the climb, Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly) powered off the front, with only Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac) able to follow. As the two began to pull away, Adrien Costa (Axeon-Hagens Berman) bridged across, and Britton combined forces with Darwin Atapuma (BMC) to chase down the lead three. On the descent into Payson, Britton and Atapuma were joined by Atapuma’s BMC teammates Tyler Eisenhart and Joey Rosskopf. Britton would end up crossing the line in fifth and move into sixth overall.
The Rally Cycling Team strongly supported Britton
The team again rallied around Britton in stage five from Antelope Island National Park to Bountiful. Evan Huffman infiltrated the day’s breakaway before working for Britton on the tough finishing circuits with a steep climb to the top of Bountiful Bench. Towards the end of the stage, a small group formed at the front of the race and it would come down to a bunch finish. Britton made the group, stayed out of trouble and crossed the line in ninth, maintaining sixth overall heading into the queen stage from SnowBasin to Snowbird.
The team rode well to protect Britton throughout stage six but at the base of the ascent to Snowbird, Britton was isolated. Without teammates, he remained near the front, never dropping down further than fourth wheel. In the closing kilometers Atapuma attacked and quickly opened a gap. Talansky was the first to respond, and once he made contact with Atapuma, he went to the front and powered to the stage win and the overall lead. Britton held steady and limited his time losses, crossing the line fifth and moving up to fifth on the general classification.
Britton was very aggressive on the final stage
The seventh and final stage was the last opportunity for Britton to move up the overall standings. Starting in Park City, the peloton faced the tough climb up Wolf Creek Ranch Road and the Hors Category Empire Pass. Early in the stage, the peloton tried to put pressure on Talansky and on the climb of Wolf Creek Ranch Road the race started to break apart. With Rosskopf in the breakaway, and just 20 seconds behind Britton on the general classification, Rally Cycling chased hard and neutralized the threat. As the peloton hit the base of Empire Pass, Morton went on the attack and quickly opened a 20 second gap. Morton’s lead continued to increase while Britton again held steady. At the line in Park City, Morton claimed the stage and overall victory. Britton crossed the line in sixth, claiming the Most Aggressive Rider jersey and locking down fifth overall.
“The peloton lost control over the top of Wolf Creek Ranch Road and the team went to the front to bring it back,” said Britton after the finish in Park City. “From there it was just a matter of who had the legs – Lachlan (Morton) was the strongest. All week I have felt good. I have put in a lot of work to be able to climb with these guys. It is a bit of uncharted territory for me so it is good to see those efforts paying off. The squad was amazing all week. From day one we rode as a team, we knew our objectives, and no one drifted off and did their own thing. You don’t finish top five overall in America’s toughest stage race without an incredible team around you. It’s pretty flattering to have this many guys riding for me.”