Wesley Sulzberger Spends Another Day in the Break at Tour of Utah

Sat 10 Aug 2013

Wesley Sulzberger was determined to get in the early break on the fifth stage of the Tour of Utah. After several failed attempts, the escape group finally took shape late in the first hour of the race. Sulzberger was one of ten riders that managed to get up the road. Although the break did not prove the winning move, Sulzberger was the team’s top finisher in Snowbird, crossing the line in 30th place.

Chris Horner (RadioShack-Leopard-Trek) bested Tom Danielson in a two-up sprint for the stage win. The experienced Americans and former teammates are now tied on time with Horner in the yellow leader’s jersey by virtue of his stage victory.

“It was good to be up the road,” said Sulzberger. “I said I wanted to be in the breakaway today, and I achieved that, so I’m happy in that sense. It would have been a totally different story if the make-up of the break was a bit different.”

The 11 rider move included serious fire-power. Sulzberger was joined in the break by Stephen Cummings and Yannick Eijssen(both BMC), Jens Voigt (RadioShack-Leopard-Trek), Ted King (Cannondale), Kiel Reijnen (UnitedHealthCare), Michael Torckler (Bissell), Jesse Anthony (Optum p/b Kelly Benefit Strategies), James Stemper (5 Hour Energy/Kenda) and Serghei Tvetcov (Jelly Belly).

“We’ve already achieved our objectives here, so I’ve given the guys carte blanche to do whatever they want these last two days,” said Sport Director Matt Wilson. “Our key guys today were Damien [Howson] and Wes – especially Wes. He’s done a lot of good work for the team, and we’re eager to repay him a little bit. The guys helped him get into the break.”

“A lot of teams realise they had no chance for the win today unless they were in the winning break, so everybody wanted to be in it, which meant it took a very long time to form,” Matthews continued. “I think the average was 55kph for the hour, which is really fast. All of the guys were in several moves during that time. Wes was in a lot of different attempts. By the time he got in the break, he was already pretty tired.”

While the group was far more organised and cohesive than the move Sulzberger found himself in two stages earlier, the presence of Reijnen doomed the group’s chances. The Unitehealthcare rider started the stage 3’01 behind race leader Lachlan Morton (Garmin-Sharp).

“Everyone knew there was a good chance the break would stay away if we were around ten riders,” Sulzberger explained. “Unfortunately, the HealthNet rider jumped in there and sort of muddled up everyone else’s plans. We were all down on time, so Garmin would have allowed the gap to grow much more than they did without him.”

“No one was very happy about the situation,” Sulzberger continued. “Jens came up beside me to ask if I realised the guy was on three minutes. I told him I did. We were all frustrated, but what can you do? We can express our frustration to him, but at the same time, his director is telling him to stay there. Who’s he going to listen to?”

Garmin-Sharp assumed control at the head of affairs, never allowing the breakaway more than 2’30 over the bunch. The peloton hit Park City ahead of the category one Guardsman Pass with a 2’10 advantage.

“The break worked better today,” noted Sulzberger. “The break took so long to go. It wasn’t easy to get in the move, so everybody that had made it was really committed to working and making sure we had the best chance. With Reijnen there, things were never really going to work out for us.”

The break shattered up Guardsman Pass and Sulzberger was picked up by the reduced bunch of around 20-30 riders, including Damien Howson. Eijssen and Torckler managed to maintain their advantage and hit the KOM 1’45 ahead of the large chase group. On the lengthy descent that separated the final two climbs, Sulzberger lost contact with his group.

“After I got shelled with a couple kilometres to go in the valley, I got back onto the yellow jersey group again,” Sulzberger said. “When we started climbing up the final climb, I tried to stay with the top GC guys, but they were obviously racing for the win. There was no hope for me after that. I found my rhythm and rode to the finish alone.”

“As soon as they started to ramp things up, Damien was also gone,” said Wilson. “He really suffered to be with them. I think the distances here coming from the U23 races are getting to him at the end of the stages. It was a good effort by him to stay there as long as he did.”

Ahead a battle royale unfolded with Eijssen disposing of Torckler up Snowbird while Horner and Danielson eventually emerged from the yellow jersey group. The Americans bridged across the young Belgian before overtaking him in the closing kilometres. Sulzberger would eventually finish 8’48 behind Horner.

“My legs felt good today,” noted Sulzberger. “The hardest thing was that I had used a lot of energy to get in the breakaway, so that didn’t help my cause. I’m happy with how I climbed in the end. I felt better than I did two days earlier.”

The Tour of Utah concludes tomorrow with the Park City loop. The Empire Pass HC-rated climb is the main feature of the 120km course.

“I expect tomorrow to be raced similarly to today,” said Wilson. “A lot of guys are going to want to get into the break. In the end, I think it will be a RadioShack vs. Garmin showdown. It’s a short stage, so it’s going to be a fast, tough day to end the week.”