It looked like it would be a day for a great GC skirmish between Tour of Utah leader Sepp Kuss (USA/LottoNL-Jumbo), Tejay van Garderen and Michael Woods, as Saturday’s penultimate stage ended with a summit finish, but Kuss climbed with aplomb to bolster his chances of being the 2018 champion while Woods and van Garderen slipped down the overall standings. Kuss, who took his first career win on Wednesday with a 50-km attack, padded his lead after a long-range climbing display that earned him the stage victory.
— LottoNLJumbo Cycling (@LottoJumbo_road) August 11, 2018
Saturday was all about the final two climbs on a 155-km route: Cat. 1 Guardsmans Pass (12-km of 6.8 percent) peaking with 45-km remaining and then the difficult, 10-km, HC-rated ascent to Snowbird Resort.
#TOU2018 Stage 5 is now underway, it’s the penultimate stage with a summit finish up Snowbird mountain. We start the day with @jackhaig93 in 9th place on GC at 40seconds behind the race leader Kuss (LottoNL-Jumbo) pic.twitter.com/zGa4HtgUeZ
— Mitchelton-SCOTT (@MitcheltonSCOTT) August 11, 2018
Behind Kuss in the GC was van Garderen in third place at +0:25 and Woods, racing for the first time since May’s Giro d’Italia, in fourth at +0:36.
The initial breakaway was quite large, but 40-minutes of hard riding whittled it down to 10-riders. An over 4:00 lead was down to 3:00 by the start of Guardsmans, with race leader Sepp Kuss’s LottoNL-Jumbo driving the peloton. Colombian Daniel Jaramillo (UnitedHealthcare) took over the lead of the KOM competition by tipping over Guardsmans first.
A 30-km descent dropped to Salt Lake Valley before the 10-km clamber to Snowbird Resort.
By the time the 7.8 percent climb to Snowbird began, the remnants of the breakaway was just over a minute ahead of the yellow jersey group. EF-Drapac mobbed the front of the field.
Up front BMC’s Kilian Frankiny bolted on the other fugitives. With 8-km to go, Kuss bridged over to Frankiny and then went solo, with Israel Cycling Academy’s Ben Hermans his closest pursuer for the rest of the climb.
Last year’s winner Rob Britton of Rally was fourth place on the day while Woods was 10th, taking him to eighth in GC. Woods’s teammate Joe Dombrowski, who was first to Woods’ runner-up in the 2015 edition, is now the top EF-Drapac rider in third overall. Van Garderen melted on the ascent and tumbled out of the top-10.
Sunday’s final stage features a Cat. 1 climb that peaks 7.5-km before the finish in Park City.
2018 Tour of Utah Stage 5
1) Sepp Kuss (USA/LottoNL-Jumbo) 4:02:32
2) Ben Hermans (Belgium/Israel Cycling Academy) +0:39
3) Peter Stetina (USA/Trek-Segafredo) +1:18
4) Rob Britton (Canada/Rally) +1:27
10) Michael Woods (Canada/EF-Drapac) +2:04
2018 Tour of Utah GC
1) Sepp Kuss (USA/LottoNL-Jumbo)
2) Ben Hermans (Belgium/Israel Cycling Academy) +1:21
3) Joe Dombrowski (USA/EF-Drapac) +2:05
8) Michael Woods (Canada/EF-Drapac) +2:40