American Tejay van Garderen of the BMC Racing Team has started strong in his first Tour of Utah since 2011, while Durango’s Sepp Kuss has helped power one of the top teams through the opening two days.
One day after he finished 25th in the 3.3-mile time trial that served as the seven-day race’s prologue, the 23-year-old Kuss finished 23rd on Stage 1 in Cedar City. He is now 21st in the Tour of Utah overall and is 17 seconds back of 29-year-old Van Garderen.
Van Garderen stayed in the yellow jersey Tuesday after winning Monday’s time trial. His combined time of 4 hours, 23 minutes, 31 seconds is two seconds clear of Travis McCabe of the UnitedHealthcare Team and four seconds ahead of his teammate Joey Rosskopf, also of the U.S.
McCabe won the 101-mile Stage 1 in Cedar City in a time of 4:17:04. He claimed a mass sprint, with Jelly Belly/Maxxis rider Ulises Alfredo Castillo of Mexico in second and Colombia’s Edwin Avila, competing for Israel Cycling Academy, in third. Kuss was 23rd and Van Garderen was 34th, as both finished in the same time. McCabe is in the sprinter’s jersey after two days.
American riders take the top four spots in the overall standings after two days of the 548.3-mile race that will finish Sunday in Park City.
Kuss’ teammate Neilson Powless, the only other American besides Kuss on the Netherlands-based Team LottoNL-Jumbo, is in fourth overall, seven seconds back of Van Garderen. Powless is in the best young rider’s jersey.
LottoNL-Jumbo’s Pascal Eenkhoorn of the Netherlands is in fifth, 11 seconds back. Daan Olivier of the Netherlands, another LottoNL-Jumbo rider, has the king of the mountain jersey after two days. He went with an early breakaway Tuesday and then went on a solo break that lasted for more than 20 miles before he was reeled in by the chase peloton with about 10 miles to go before the finish line.
BMC Racing leads the team standings with a combined time of 13:10:46, while LottoNL-Jumbo is 21 seconds back and in second place.
Van Garderen, the top U.S. rider at this year’s Tour de France after a 32nd-place finish, won Monday’s time trial in 6 minutes, 27 seconds. He had a four-second advantage ahead of Rosskopf and six seconds on another BMC Racing Team rider, Tom Bohli of Switzerland. While the short time trial didn’t allow anyone much separation from the field, Kuss found himself 17 seconds back after the first day.
Wednesday’s Stage 2 is 86 miles with a Category 1 climb of Mount Nebo in the Wasatch Range. Kuss said he expected Stage 2 to start selecting some of the race contenders with team strategies to solidify after the first big climb of the week. A year ago, Kuss took the yellow jersey after he finished second on Stage 2 at Tour of Utah.
That, however, was a different route that finished with a climb up to Snowbasin Resort. This year’s stage will start and end in Payson. Still, Kuss’ elite climbing ability will be on display on Mount Nebo.
Fort Lewis College cycling alum Cormac McGeough finished 55th on the opening time trial with the Jelly Belly/Maxxis team. The rider from Ireland was 26 seconds back of Van Garderen. His Jelly Belly teammate Keegan Swirbul, the 2015 Iron Horse Bicycle Classic champion and 2018 IHBC runner-up, was 62nd in the time trial, 27 seconds back. Swirbul was 51st on Tuesday’s stage. He is now 50th overall. McGeough was 91st on Tuesday and is 94th in the standings at 16:44 back.
A pair of Durango riders are in Utah to compete with the 303Project team. FLC cycling alum Griffin Easter was 78th in both the time trial and Stage 1 and is 79th in the overall standings, 1:41 back. His brother, Colorado Mesa alum Cullen Easter, was 108th in the time trial and 59th on Tuesday’s road race. He is 75th overall, 48 seconds off the lead.
Defending champion Rob Britton, a Canadian riding for Rally Cycling, was 31st Tuesday after he began with a 29th-place finish in the time trial. He is currently 25th overall, 18 seconds off the lead. Evan Huffman of Rally Cycling has the most aggressive rider jersey going into Wednesday. He is 70th overall.
Colorado Springs mountain bike star Russell Finsterwald made his first start at the Tour of Utah and is competing with the Australia-based Mobius Bridgelane team. Finsterwald finished 67th on Stage 1 after he was 109th in the time trial. He is 76th overall, 49 seconds off of Van Garderen’s time.
The Tour of Utah will be broadcast at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday on FS2.