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Aug 3, 2015 – Kiel Reijnen of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team won the first stage of the 2015 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, 212km around Bear Lake that started and finished Logan, Utah. But the big news was the third place finish of Taylor Phinney of the BMC Racing Team in his first race after a serious crash at the 2014 US Pro Championship road race sidelined him for 62 weeks.
BMC PR/Tour of Utah
Alex Howes from Cannondale-Garmin finished in second, continuing the team’s long run if near misses and also rans. Late in the 200+km stage, Howes and Reijnen bridged to the remnants of an earlier breakaway on the rain swept stage. Phinney managed to bridge to the newly formed breakaway group and together they managed to hold off a hard charging bunch that was trying to bring it back together for a sprint by just four seconds.
Reijnen will wear the leader’s jersey with just four seconds over Howes and six seconds over Phinney. Tomorrow’s stage 2, 100 miles from Tremonton to Ogden, features a tough climb up Ogden Canyon only 18 miles from the finish to truly test the sprinters and their teams.
“I didn’t play the sprint so well,” Phinney said. “I had a little bit of a gap coming out of the last corner and just hit it. I was a bit nervous I guess.”
Phinney had gone 434 days without racing after fracturing his left leg and injuring his left knee in a crash at the 2014 USA Cycling national road championships in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The two-time U.S. national time trial champion said he “felt pretty terrible” during the cold, rain-soaked race that started and finished in Logan. But after checking in with Sport Director Jackson Stewart Phinney saw his opportunity.
“Jackson told me the time gap and I just put it together that the sprinter’s team were working really hard,” Phinney said. “With the wet, and also the tiny little climb on the circuit, it could be a good opportunity to go for it. I saw some guys attacking right before we got into town and followed some of those moves. I got a little excited.”
Also making a comeback Monday was teammate Peter Stetina. He broke his right tibia and patella and five ribs in a crash with a metal post nearly 17 weeks ago at Vuelta al Pais Vasco.
Stetina said he was pleasantly surprised with his performance, which saw him stay in the peloton until the finishing circuits. He crossed the line 2:55 behind the stage winner, in 103rd place.
“I sat up on the rainy finishing circuits because that is not a finish for me and I wanted to be safe,” Stetina said. “I think Mother Nature was really asking me if I wanted to come back and do this. She made it tough on us. Six hours of rain is no fun. But I was on such a high just to be on my bike that I was probably more OK with it than a lot of guys.”
Sport Director Jackson Stewart said he admired the performance of both Phinney and Stetina.
“It was a good day – a really good day,” Stewart said. “I know Taylor wanted to win, but we will take a podium result. It has got to be good for his morale. With Pete, we really did not expect him to finish. So it was incredible to see him come over that last climb. The fighting he did was incredible.”
Final kilometers of Stage 1
Results Stage 1
1. Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling 5:09:02
2. Alex Howes (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team
3. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team
4. Gregory Daniel (USA) Axeon Cycling Team
5. Johann Van Zyl (RSA) MTN – Qhubeka 0:00:02
6. Eric Young (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 0:00:04
7. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF
8. Sebastián Molano (Col) Colombia
9. Robin Carpenter (USA) Hincapie Racing Team
10. Lucas Sebastian Haedo (Arg) Jamis-Hagens Berman p/b Sutter Home
1. Kiel Reijnen (USA) UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling 5:08:52
2. Alex Howes (USA) Cannondale-Garmin Pro Cycling Team 0:00:04
3. Taylor Phinney (USA) BMC Racing Team 0:00:06
4. Gregory Daniel (USA) Axeon Cycling Team 0:00:07
5. Johann Van Zyl (RSA) MTN – Qhubeka 0:00:11
6. Carlos Mario Ramirez (Col) Colombia 0:00:13
7. Eric Young (USA) Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies 0:00:14
8. Sonny Colbrelli (Ita) Bardiani CSF
9. Sebastián Molano (Col) Colombia
10. Robin Carpenter (USA) Hincapie Racing Team