The OUCH Pro Cycling Team Presented by Maxxis will look to build on the momentum generated by freshly minted U.S. National Criterium Champion John Murphy as the team gets set to take on possibly the most difficult stage race in North America, the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.
The race begins Tuesday with a 4.5 km prologue in downtown Salt Lake City, and is followed by five stages, with the race ending Sunday with a fast, flat criterium in downtown Salt Lake City. In between are three climb-heavy road stages and a 14.5 km time trial at the Miller Motorsports Park.
The squad is headlined by stage race specialists Floyd Landis and Chris Baldwin, who took a strong 5th overall at the Cascade Classic last month despite suffering from some upper respiratory illness toward the end of that race.
“I’m healthy and ready to go,” Baldwin said. “This should be a good race for the team. Brad (White) has been putting in some great training, Pat (McCarty) is going well and we have a new national champion in Murphy.”
While he hasn’t previewed the course, Baldwin notes that the stages are pretty similar to the previous two editions of the race. But he said the team will have the benefit of course knowledge gained by McCarty, Cam Evans and Landis, who have been in the area for over a week doing an altitude training camp and previewing stages.
Landis, in fact, has spent much of the past month training around Park City and previewing many of the race’s stages.
“I haven’t ridden every mile of every stage, but I have ridden several of the stages and all of the climbs,” Landis said. “There isn’t just one critical stage. There are several critical stages, with hard mountain top finishes. Those stages will, I imagine, determine the race. Stage 4, with the final climb up to Snowbird, would be a hard day in any grand tour.”
With the Tour of Utah’s growing stature and climb-heavy course, Landis is expecting this to be the most competitive edition yet. “The Tour of Utah is becoming one of the biggest races in the U.S., so I’m sure all the teams will be ready. The competition will be very high, and that is just going to make things harder in the mountains. You have to be prepared for a race like this.”
For his part, Landis is definitely prepared. He spent two weeks in July training in Utah, and spent the past week there with Evans and McCarty. “It looks like it is going to be one of the better races for me this year,” he said. “I’ve been training for it and I’m going there to win.”