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Jeff Louder proved at Mt. Nebo why he is BMC's man for Utah (foto by Abbi.Orca.com)
Jeff Louder proved at Mt. Nebo why he is BMC's man for Utah (foto by Abbi.Orca.com)

Jeff Louder puts the hurt on Mancebo and jumps into top 3 on GC

21. August 2009

Mount Nebo

The Tour of Utah's second stage from Thanksgiving Point to the top of Mount Nebo found the riders giving thanks once they finished the incredibly difficult climb. 

Though the first 95 kilometers were basically flat, they led to one of the longest and most demanding paved climbs in the very mountainous state.  After Tuesday's show of strength in controlling the peloton, BMC looked to use the Mt. Nebo climb to regain the initiative by making the most of their depth in climbers to find the chink in the Rock Racing armour.  Constant attacking by Jeff Louder put race leader Francisco Mancebo in difficulty multiple times.  But it was Team Type 1's Darren Lill who put in the attack which would lead him to the stage victory 21 seconds ahead of Louder and Mancebo. 

Shattering experience

"I predicted that today there would be a big selection and indeed there were only a handful of guys left at the front by the finish," Jeff Louder explained.  "I was sort of surprised by who was strong and who wasn't; Darren Lill was on fire and succeeded in having his cake and eating it appropriately enough on his birthday."  With the day starting off on a long, grinding flat section, the pack's biggest interest was to see the Rock Racing team use up a lot of energy working to control the breaks.  "The team did an amazing job supporting me today," Louder said.  "Jonathan Garcia got into the early break which not only took the pressure off us, but forced Rock to chase maybe a little harder than they would have liked."  Arriving at the base of the climb safely tucked away behind his teammates and the Rock Racing train, Louder felt that he was in the perfect position to tackle the day's monster.  "At the base of the climb, Ouch took over and set a wicked pace which effectively tailed off all the Rock guys except Sevilla and Mancebo," Louder said. 

The strongmen show themselves

With the lead pack whittled down to barely 30 guys, Darren Lill put in his scorching attack.  "Lill attacked with about 25 kilometers to go and took Sevilla with him," Louder said.  "I tried to follow but instead of constantly yo-yoing, I decided to settle into my own pace and then Lill was able to crack Sevilla who ended up falling back behind our group."  Lill's attack left only four or five guys trailing after him.  "I have a bad five minutes on the climb just when the major attacks were happening," Brent Bookwalter said.  "It's unfortunate since after I hit my bad patch, I started feeling great, but the climb lent itself more to group work, and by that time I was in a group which wasn't too motivated."  Lucky to have two teammates helping him, Bookwalter resisted working to help the group bridge back up to Louder in front.  "I could see that I was one of the strongest in our group, but I didn't want to drag those guys up closer to Louder and maybe make trouble for him down the road," Bookwalter said.  "It was just great, though to see Jeff pull through and do so well even after working so hard for me yesterday." 

Finding that proverbial chink in the armour

"Today's was a long hard climb, but it was reassuring to see that Mancebo and Sevilla weren't as impressive as yesterday," Louder explained.  "They certainly managed the race as well as they could but they did show some weakness."  Isolated early on the climb and perhaps lacking the same firepower they displayed the day before, Mancebo and Sevilla were both still able to hang tough at the pointy end of the race.  "Ouch's Baldwin and McCarty put in some good attacks and I attacked Mancebo maybe six or seven times, but it is obvious he and Sevilla know how to race their bikes," Louder commented.  "I had Mancebo gapped and dropped but then he kept coming back and even managed to come over the top of me by the finish line; it was pretty impressive to be in a situation to witness something like that.  See, even at my age, I'm still learning things!"  With the time trial and the climb up to Snowbird still to come, Louder can go into the next two days knowing that he has the experience and track record to take back the lead.  "I am cautiously optimistic," he said.  "I know the time trial well and the stage Saturday was a dream day for me last year, so if I can conjure up some of the same magic, I think I can give it a pretty good shot."