Omega Pharma-QuickStep Added as Seventh Team From Tour de France for August U.S. Race
SALT LAKE CITY, UT – The 2012 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah professional cycling stage race will feature a total field of 17 teams from around the globe, including a record seven teams from the Tour de France. The UCI WorldTour No. 4-ranked team, Omega Pharma-QuickStep, accepted an invitation to race, and is expected to bring the two-time Tour of Utah champion Levi Leipheimer, who attended high school in Salt Lake City. The final field represents teams registered from nine countries, including two teams from the Netherlands and one team from China, all three first-time entries. Other countries include Belgium, Canada, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, and the United States.
The addition of Omega Pharma-QuickStep brings the total number of UCI ProTeams to six in the final field for Utah. A total of five UCI Professional Continental teams have accepted invitations to race in Utah - Champion System Pro Cycling of China, Team Argos-Shimano of the Netherlands, Team SpiderTech powered by C10 of Canada, Team NetApp of Germany, and American team UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling. Six UCI Continental teams round out the field of 17 for the Tour of Utah, August 7-12, 2012.
"This year's Tour promises to be the most exciting pro racing Utah has ever seen," said Steve Miller, president of the Tour of Utah. "The demand from teams worldwide for entry in to the race was staggering and we believe we have created a mix that will prove thrilling for spectators and television viewers alike.
"The field this August provides a unique opportunity for Utahns and out-of-state visitors to see a level of competition only available in the U.S. a few times a year. To watch these riders battle it out in the Team Time Trial and on the most challenging climbs in North America is an experience not to be missed."
Partnering six different Host Venues across northern Utah, “America’s Toughest Stage RaceTM” will be the first UCI 2.1-rated stage race for ProTeams in the U.S. following the Tour de France and the 2012 London Olympic Games. The overall start begins in Ogden and the grand finale will finish in Park City. The Tour of Utah also boasts the only professional Team Time Trial (TTT) in the U.S. this year.
UCI ProTeams Confirmed:(world rankings as of June 17, 2012)
BMC Racing Team (USA), No.9 on UCI WorldTour
Garmin-Sharp (USA), No. 6 on UCI WorldTour
Liquigas-Cannondale (ITA), No. 3 on UCI WorldTour
*Omega Pharma-QuickStep (BEL), No. 4 on UCI WorldTour
Rabobank Cycling Team (NED), No. 13 on UCI WorldTour
RadioShack-Nissan-Trek (LUX), No. 10 on UCI WorldTour
UCI Professional Continental Teams Confirmed: (rankings as of June 25, 2012)
*Champion System Pro Cycling Team (CHN), No. 5 on UCI Asia Tour
Team Argos-Shimano (NED), No. 2 on UCI Europe Tour
*Team NetApp (GER), No. 9 on UCI Europe Tour
*Team SpiderTech powered by C10 (CAN), No. 12 on UCI America Tour
*UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA), No. 3 on UCI America Tour
UCI Continental Teams Confirmed: (USAC rankings as of May 8, 2012)
*Bissell Pro Cycling (USA), No. 21 on UCI America Tour; No. 3 on NRC
*Bontrager Livestrong Cycling Team (USA), No. 5 on NRC
Competitive Cyclist Racing Team (USA), No. 10 on UCI America Tour; No. 1 on NRC
EPM-UNE (COL), No.5 on UCI America Tour
*Team Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies (USA), No.7 on UCI America Tour; No. 2 on NRC
*Team Exergy (USA), No. 17 on UCI America Tour; No. 7 on NRC
*denotes most recent additions to Tour of Utah
The athletes will compete for six days across the mountains, valleys and plateaus of Utah, vying for UCI points, award jerseys and a prize purse that totals $127,000. The professional teams are expected to announce their final rosters for the Tour of Utah at the end of July.
In early April, Tour of Utah organizers announced the first eight teams that had been confirmed to participate in this year’s stage race - Liquigas-Cannondale, RadioShack-Nissan-Trek, BMC Racing Team, Garmin-Sharp, Rabobank Cycling Team, Team Argos-Shimano, Competitive Cyclist Racing Team, and EPM-UNE. Seven of the teams (all six UCI ProTeams and Team Argos-Shimano) are currently competing at the Tour de France.
“The Tour of Utah is very important for American cycling. It’s a very big, international stage race that draws the best riders in the world. It’s billed as ‘America’s Toughest Stage Race,’ and I believe the courses reflect that,” said two-time Tour of Utah champion (2010-11) Leipheimer, who is currently 19th on G.C. in the Tour de France for Omega Pharma-QuickStep.
Omega Pharma-QuickStep (Belgium), a UCI ProTeamled by Leipheimer, makes its Tour of Utah debut in 2012. The current squad is the result of a merger between Omega Pharma-Lotto and the QuickStep teams. Omega Pharma-Lotto wrapped up 2011 in first place in the UCI ProTour standings. The team includes 2011 World Individual Time Trial Champion Tony Martin (GER), Tom Boonen (BEL) and Grand Tour veteran Sylvain Chavanel (FRA). Chavanel is currently in 16th position on G.C. at the Tour de France (as of July 10). Boonen started out the 2012 season with the overall win at Tour of Qatar, and a stage victory at Paris-Nice – his 100th career victory. The team also won the overall Team Classification in Qatar.
Based in China, Champion System Pro Cycling Team (China) makes its Tour of Utah debut. The team holds the honor of being the first Asian-based Professional Continental squad, and the first time a cycling apparel company is both the owner and title sponsor of an elite international team. Leading the team is Estonia's Jaan Kirsipuu, who lays claim to four Tour de France stage wins, plus more than 120 UCI victories. The team’s roster includes Mart Ojavee, the 2011 Estonian Road Race Champion, and two Americans known for climbing. Craig Lewis, an acquisition from the now-defunct HTC-Highroad squad, won Stage 2 at the Tour de Beauce in June, and Chris Butler, formerly of the BMC Racing Team, is a multi-time collegiate road national champion. Also notable is that the team is managed by two former U.S. pros who raced at the Tour of Utah – Chris Wherry and Burke Swindlehurst.
Another newcomer to Utah is Team NetApp (Germany). This young German team, in only its second year as a Professional Continental squad, made its first Grand Tour appearance earlier in the year at the 2012 Giro d’Italia. Earlier this season, the squad took first in the TTT at the Settimana Internazionale Coppi e Bartali. Some of the top riders who are expected to race in Utah include Marcel Wyss (SUI), a Grand Tour veteran, and young climbing sensation Leopold König (CZE).
UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team (USA) finished the 2011 season as the No. 2-ranked NRC team. Based in California since 2002, this seasoned team enters its second year as a Pro Continental squad, and will race a fifth time in Utah. Joining the team for 2012 is Utah’s own Jeff Louder, the overall winner at the 2008 Tour of Utah. Along with Louder, the team includes German sprinter Robert Förster, a three-time winner at the Giro d’Italia, and veteran Grand Tour rider Jason McCartney (USA). Australian Rory Sutherland currently sits in second in the NRC individual rankings, the position in which teammate Jacobe Keough (USA) wrapped up his 2011 season.
Team SpiderTech powered by C10 is Canada’s first Continental Professional cycling team and makes its second appearance at the Tour of Utah. In 2011, the squad notched eight UCI victories, 30 podiums, and more than 60 Top 10 finishes. The team’s roster includes Ryan Roth, the 2012 Canadian National Road Champion and Hugo Houle, the 2012 Under-23 Canadian National Time Trial Champion. Additional Canadian teammates include Will Routley, 2010 Canadian National Road Champion and silver medalist at the 2011 Canadian Championships, and Guillaume Boivin, the bronze medalist at the 2010 UCI Road World Championship road race (U23). Rounding out the squad are Americans Pat McCarty and Lucas Euser, who both finished in the Top 10 at the 2011 Tour of Utah. In 2012, the team made its debut at the Tour de Suisse.
The Bissell Pro Cycling (USA) makes its fifth consecutive appearance in the Tour of Utah, and in as many years with Bissell as title sponsor. Having finished 2011 in the top spot on the NRC team rankings, UCI Continental team Bissell currently sits in third place. Bissell features USA National Criterium Champion Eric Young and Salt Lake City resident Chase Pinkham. The role of team leader is shared by Americans Frank Pipp, Chris Baldwin, and Ben Jacques-Maynes, along with New Zealander Jeremy Vennell. Pipp clinched second spot on the podium in the Road Race at the recent USA Cycling National Championships. In early season racing, Young took first on GC at the Joe Martin Stage Race while New Zealander Paddy Bevin took three-consecutive stage wins at Redlands to secure second place on GC.
Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies (USA) returns to the Tour of Utah for the fourth consecutive year led by newly signed American Tom Zirbel, a two-time winner of the Individual Time Trial (2009-2010 Tour of Utah). Joining Zirbel on the squad are Utah’s own Reid Mumford, and Americans Jesse Anthony and Mike Creed. In 2011, Anthony won Stage One of the Tour of Utah in Ogden. Early season racing in 2012 saw Creed take the overall win at the Madera Stage Race. This year, Zirbel scored a fourth place finish at the USA Cycling National Championships in the ITT, while teammate Kenneth Hanson took fourth in the Road Race. At the 2012 Amgen Tour of California, climbing sensation Sébastian Salas (CAN) took the overall King of the Mountain title.
Team Exergy (USA), an Idaho-based UCI Continental team, enters its second year in the pro peloton, and makes its Tour of Utah debut in 2012. The team is led by veteran and Giro d’Italia stage winner Freddie Rodriguez (USA), who is joined by Americans Matt Cooke and Morgan Schmitt and Columbians Andres Diaz and Carlos Alzate. In its first season of racing in 2011, the team finished a respectable fourth in points in the National Racing Calendar (NRC) team standings. Last year, Alzate gave the team two overall wins at the Callville Bay Classic and Manhattan Beach Grand Prix.
Composed entirely of athletes under the age of 23, the Bontrager Livestrong Cycling Team (USA) returns to the Tour of Utah for a third time. Previously competing as Trek Livestrong, they placed third in the team classification in the 2010 Tour of Utah.This Continental squad includes Belgian Junior National Time Trial Champion and Road Race Champion Jasper De Buyst, New Zealand National Time Trial Champion James Oram, and Paris Roubaix Espoir podium finisher Jasper Stuyven (Belgium). In 2012 racing, Ian Boswell (USA) took second at the U23 Liege Bastogne Liege event and teammate Joe Dombrowski (USA) won the 2012 Girobio, or “Baby Giro”.