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Tour of Utah Stage 5: Canadian Michael Woods wins uphill finish, takes yellow

Michael "Rusty" Woods of Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies was the best on the steep finish of Friday's Salt Lake City circuit stage of the Tour of Utah. It was Optum's second consecutive stage win.

Troféu Alpendre Internacional do Guadiana.

Michael “Rusty” Woods of Optum presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies was the best on the steep finish of Friday’s Salt Lake City circuit stage of the Tour of Utah. It was Optum’s second consecutive stage win. With the victory Woods assumes the yellow jersey from Jure Kocjan (Slovenia/SmartStop), with a 4-second gap over Brent Bookwalter (USA/BMC).

The riders started in the late afternoon and faced seven-laps of Salt Lake City for 89-km in total. Each lap contained passages of Wall Street and Zane Avenue, both tilting up to 20%.

Eight riders bolted on the bunch on the first lap. Fugitive Travis McCabe of SmartStop nabbed the first intermediate sprint on lap three. On lap six, Stefano Pirazzi (Italy/Bardiani-CSF) and Songezo Jim (South Africa/MTN-Qhubeka) took off on their own and Pirazzi was first over the second intermediate sprint as the peloton absorbed the rest of the escape.

Pirazzi couldn’t shake Jim and the duo drew the attentions of Robin Carpenter (USA/Hincapie) and previous race leader Kiel Reijnen (USA/UnitedHealthcare), who bridged over on the penultimate lap. The quartet became ten riders, but with 20-km remaining, the race all came back together. The peloton, however, was a streamlined one.

On the final passage up the entire Wall Street-Zane Avenue climb Natnael Berhane (Eritrea/MTN-Qhubeka) flashed out from the bunch and flew up the grade. He started the final lap with a 25-second lead.

The finish was on the steepest part of the climb. A couple of chase groups tried to run Berhane down on the flatter part of the course. With 5-km remaining the Eritrean held only 10-seconds. However, the race reformed with 2-km to go.

An approaching thunderstorm lent extra drama to the frantic finale. BMC whipped along the peloton with Wall Street/Zane Avenue looming. UnitedHealthcare then grabbed the reins. Kocjan separated himself with two others as the road tilted up. It was then that Woods attacked out of the field and ripped open a gulf that the others couldn’t close.

Saturday is the first of two consecutive mountain top finishes, with Cat. 1 Guardsman’s Pass peaking 47-km before the summit finish on the HC climb to Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort.

2015 Tour of Utah Stage 5

1) Michael Woods (Canada/Optum) 2:09:49
2) Sonny Cobrelli (Italy/Bardiani) +0:02
3) Kiel Reijnen (USA/UnitedHealthcare) s.t.

2015 Tour of Utah GC
1) Michael Woods (Canada/Optum) 19:50:49
2) Brent Bookwalter (USA/BMC) +0:04
3) Jure Kocjan (Slovenia/SmartStop) +0:05