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Rob Britton set to defend Tour of Utah title, Michael Woods to contend for crown

Plenty of Canadians contesting "America's Toughest Stage Race"

On Monday the 14th version of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah kicks off with a hilly prologue time trial in St. George, and wearing the number 1 will be Canadian Rob Britton, who took the biggest victory of his career last year in the 2.HC stage race. In the peloton around him will 12 compatriots, including the all-Canadian Silber squad. Even Britton’s main rival is a Canuck: Michael Woods (EF-Drapac), returning to the race for the first time since 2015 when he was runner-up to now-teammate Joe Dombrowski.

The Course

There’s a lot of climbing in the Tour of Utah, with no flat stages. A big climb comes on Stage 2, with Mount Nebo, the highest peak in the Wasatch Range, cresting 40-km before the finish in Peyton.

The biggest stage of the Tour of Utah is always the one with the summit finish at Snowbird Resort. Last year, Britton placed fifth on the HC-rated ascent to defend his yellow jersey. On Stage 5 the riders also face Cat. 1 Guardsmans Pass as an appetizer to Snowbird.

The race finishes the next day in Park City, with one more big climb, newly-paved Empire Pass, six-kilometres before the line.

The Contenders

Last year’s runner-up Gavin Mannion (USA/UnitedHealthcare) is back to challenge. He was second to Britton in the Tour of Gila this season as well. Expect Mannion’s Romanian teammate Serghei Tvetcov, third last season, to be in the mix.

BMC sends along a likely duo in Americans Tejay van Garderen and Brent Bookwalter, fifth last year.

Among the Canadians–Britton’s Rally teammate Nigel Ellsay, Jelly Belly’s Jack Burke, Elevate-KHS’s James Piccoli and Jordan Cheyne, Laurent Gervais of the beautifully kitted Aevolo squad, Silber’s Charles-etienne Chretien, Pier-André Coté, Émile Jean, Nicolas Masbourian, Adam Roberge, Danick Vandale and Nicolas Zukowsky and Woods–Britton’s closest rivals will be Piccoli and Woods. Piccoli is the Tour de Beauce champion and climbs like an angel. Woods scrapped to 19th in the Giro d’Italia, his last competition.

Woods scrapped his way back into the Giro top-20 on the last mountain stage. Photo: Sirotti

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