McCabe ekes out Tour of Utah Stage 1 win in Cedar City

Travis McCabe of UnitedHealthCare Pro Cycling raises his arms in celebration after winning Stage 1 of the 2018 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 7, 2018. He is closely followed by second-place stage finisher Ulisses Castillo of the JellyBelly team. | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

CEDAR CITY — Travis McCabe of UnitedHealthcare Pro Cycling Team sprinted to a first-place finish in Stage 1 of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah Tuesday afternoon, edging out dozens of riders in the peloton who crossed the line within seconds of McCabe.

McCabe’s winning time for the day’s 101-mile race was 4 hours, 17 minutes, 5 seconds, a time that was shared by the top 73 riders in the peloton, or main group of racers.

Riders leave the starting line of Stage 1 of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 7, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

McCabe, a 29-year-old Arizona resident who earned his third-ever Tour of Utah stage win in as many years, said he and his teammates stayed in the peloton and opted not to challenge the leaders too early in the race.

“It was a pretty fast pace … the pace was pretty hard, but we expected that, and we didn’t put too much into the chase,” McCabe said afterward. “I just waited for the opportune time to sprint.”

Coming in a close second, trailing by only one bike length or so, was Ulises Castilo of Mexico, a member of the Jelly Belly Cycling Team. Stage 1’s third-place finisher was Edwin Avila of Colombia, who races for Israel Cycling Academy.

Tejay Van Garderen of BMC Racing Team, who won Monday’s time trials in St. George, finished within the peloton and retained his yellow jersey for remaining the overall race leader. McCabe is in second place overall after Tuesday’s stage, trailing Van Garderen by just two seconds. Click here for complete official results for Stage 1 on the Tour of Utah website, and check out the photo gallery below.

Tuesday’s race started just before 11 a.m. at the Southern Utah University campus. Riders completed a neutral lap around town before making their way north to Parowan, climbing up Parowan Canyon to Brian Head and then making a second climb to Bristlecone before heading down Cedar Canyon and making three laps around town, each time passing hundreds of cheering spectators gathered at the finish line.

L-R: Top three stage finishers Ulises Castillo (second place), Travis McCabe (first place), and Edwin Avila (third place) atop awards podium after Stage 1 of the 2018 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah, Cedar City, Utah, Aug. 7, 2018 | Photo by Jeff Richards, St. George News / Cedar City News

Daan Olivier of the Netherlands, a member of Team LottoNL-Jumbo, was awarded the King of the Mountain jersey for finishing second in the first climb to Brian Head, a Category 1 climb that gains 4,500 vertical feet in 15 miles and tops off at over 10,600 feet in elevation. He also won the day’s second climb at Bristlecone.

“It was the first time I raced at this altitude which makes it pretty hard, but I think it was a really nice climb,” Olivier said during a press conference after the race. “The steep gradients I like, so I enjoyed it.”

During the four-plus hours the riders were gone, the area of 300 West and University Boulevard remained bustling with activity, with hundreds of people of all ages participating in games, food and activities. It marked Cedar City’s fourth time as a stage host during the 14-year history of the Tour of Utah.

Since 2015, the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah has been 2.HC-rated UCI stage race, making it one of the premier professional cycling events in North America.

Wednesday, the Tour of Utah racers will face another daunting climbing challenge in Mt. Nebo as Payson hosts the 88.6-mile Stage 2. Subsequent stages of the weeklong event, which is free to all spectators, will take place in Layton, Salt Lake City, Snowbird and Park City. Visit the Tour of Utah website for more information.

Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.

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