Levi Leipheimer successfully defended his Tour of Utah title on Sunday, locking onto Colombian Sergio Henao’s back wheel on the final climb up Little Cottonwood Canyon.
Henao took the final stage from Park City to Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort and finished second overall, while Leipheimer’s Radioshack teammate, Janez Brajkovic of Slovenia, took third.
Leipheimer grabbed the overall lead after four days of racing and just needed to hang close to Henao on the final 9.6km, 914m vertical climb.
It helped that Leipheimer, who had a disappointing Tour de France after winning the Tour of Switzerland in June, had a 23-second advantage over the Colombian coming into the final day.
Henao’s team, Gobernacion Indeportes Antioquia, was a late invite to the upgraded Tour of Utah this year and showed its merit. Henao won the prologue and final stage and teammate Javier Acevedo triumphed in Saturday’s fourth stage race through the hills around Salt Lake City to give Gobernacion the team victory.
Now Leipheimer must contend with Gobernacion and another Colombian team experienced at climbing in next week’s USA Pro Cycling Challenge in the Rocky Mountains — the last of the top three stage races in North America.
The six-day, 658km Tour of Utah was billed as the US’ “Toughest Stage Race” as it included nearly 9,144m of vertical elevation gain.
Though 118 riders started the race on Tuesday, only 88 finished, with Leipheimer completing the course in 15 hours, 53 minutes, 12 seconds.
Spanish rider Oscar Sevilla Ribera of Gobernacion was fourth overall, while Garmin-Cervelo’s Thomas Danielson was fifth and teammate Christian Vandevelde sixth.
David Zabriskie, racing a month after a terrible crash in the Tour de France, started on Sunday, but did not finish.
Greeting the riders at the finish was Tour de France champion Cadel Evans, who decided not to race in the event because it conflicted with an official celebration in his native Australia last week.
AFP, SITTARD-GELEEN, THE NETHERLANDS
Norwegian rider Edvald Boasson Hagen won the Eneco Tour on Sunday for the second time after the Team Sky rider took the sixth and final stage.
The 24-year-old — who beat Portugal’s Manuel Cardoso and Dutch rider Lars Boom to the stage win in a sprint finish — beat Belgian star Philippe Gilbert by 23 seconds, while British cyclist David Millar took third overall, 29 seconds adrift.
It meant disappointment for Gilbert, who had been hoping to replace Australia’s Tour de France champion Cadel Evans atop the world rankings.
Boasson Hagen’s teammates had worked hard in the final kilometers of the stage, upping the pace, to prevent an attack from Gilbert.
Boasson Hagen — winner of two stages on the Tour de France this year — also benefited from a crash 150m from the line by another Belgian rider Jurgen Roelandt, who suffered a mechanical problem when he looked certain to win.
“Everything went perfectly: The team did what it had to protect my overall lead,” Boasson Hagen said.