BOUNTIFUL—Sometimes, the third time really is the charm.
It was for Travis McCabe, who held off the late-race challenges of two other cyclists to win Stage 5 of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah on Friday afternoon along Bountiful’s Main Street. McCabe also won the Utah Sports Commission Sprint Leader jersey in completing the 115-mile trek that began in Layton.
Riders were so quick along this year’s route that the finishers were in about 25 minutes sooner than expected. Hot conditions and a tailing wind from the south helped make for record times in a race that included a crash at the 25-mile mark, and fortunately, no serious injuries.
“I love Utah,” McCabe said in a post race press conference hosted at the Wight House in downtown Bountiful. “I’ve been here three times before. There’s always a fast finish here, and once I hit the final stretch and was within 250 yards of the finish line, I just decided to really go for it.”
He edged second-place finisher Marco Canola by less than a bike length, with Logan Owen a close third. All were presented with ceremonial flowers and their individual awards by local dignitaries, including Davis Clipper publisher R. Gail Stahle, who presented Owen with his award.
This year’s route was different from the past two years when a TOU stage has been held in Davis County. Cyclists started in the Layton City Park, went west towards the shore of the Great Salt Lake, and circled back through Layton before heading north again. They were able to ride on an outer rim inside Hill Air Force Base, even witnessing a few F-35 takeoffs.
“I enjoyed watching those jets,” McCabe said. “Being up front, I got to see a lot of that. I live near San Diego and see the Navy jets take off and land there, and it was kind of cool to see them here. Definitely amazing and loud, and an incredible thing to see.”
Crowds were large in Layton on Thursday night for a pre-race event. Mayor Bob Stevenson expressed his appreciation to the city staff that coordinated the event in the city park, particularly Michelle Howard from the parks department. As the race progressed on Friday morning, the crowd included a number of visitors from other states who’d come to watch.
Maurice and Frances Zukowsky came from Tucson, Ariz., to see their 19-year-old son Nickolas compete for the Silber Pro Cycling team. He is one of the youngest competitors to ever be part of the Tour of Utah.
“This was a great honor and achievement for him to be a member of the Silber team this year,” Maurice said. “We’ve really enjoyed being up here and seeing the beautiful mountains. We spent some time in Heber City earlier this week, and this stage of the race is very scenic.”
One of the crowd favorites this year was Justin Oien, who was named Most Aggressive Rider for Stage 5 and got the red jersey after the race.
“I usually lean away from that—I’m not an aggressive person,” he said with a smile at the news conference. “But this was a very fast stage and I kind of got caught up in it. I am flattered to be able to wear this jersey.”
Organizers again seemed pleased with the crowd turnout and support, and riders were impressed with the 3,500-plus American flags that lined various parts of the course. The overall title was won by Canadian Robert Britton, who took the lead after Stage 3 of the race last Wednesday and never relinquished it.