Pro cycling comes to Utah

The top cycling teams in America descended upon the breathtaking mountains of northern Utah to compete in the Tour of Utah – America’s toughest stage race.

The six-day stage race covered over 300 miles of mountainous terrain, and sent the riders over 30,000 feet of climbing. After the six days of racing, the last man standing was winner Francisco Moncebo and his Rock Racing teammates.

Although cycling has traditionally struggled to cause a blip on the American sports Richter scale, the sport, along with its athletes, are hailed as heroes on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Most notably for Americans has been the return of Lance Armstrong to the peloton after three years of retirement. As the cycling world dangles for a foothold on American soil, the Tour of Utah brought some of Utah’s best riders to compete in their home state.

The presence of Salt Lake City’s own David Zabriskie, who has raced in some of the biggest races in Europe, including the Tour de France, made his Tour of Utah debut, bringing spectator’s out to line the course throughout the week. The Beehive-State native captured the yellow jersey briefly in the Tour de France in 2005 by beating the field in the prologue time trial. Although he would lose the leader’s jersey a few days into the race, Zabriskie has become one of the world’s most renowned time-trial riders.

Also in the field was last year’s winner Jeff Louder, who like Zabriskie, also hales from the state of Utah. While lesser-known than Zabriskie, Louder has posted high-profile results of his own. He won the Redlands bicycle classic earlier this year and has won several stages in races along the way. Louder finished third in this years Tour of Utah.

One of the top attractions at this year’s tour was the presence of the ever-controversial Floyd Landis. Landis made news back in 2006 when, after winning the Tour de France in heroic fashion, he tested positive for having used performance-enhancing drugs. The cyclist who was once thought of as the heir apparent to Armstrong as the next great American in the sport, was quickly banned from the peloton and had his title stripped away. Now, after a two-year ban, Landis is attempting to return to the highest levels of the sport.

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