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Winner of the Queen Stage: Jeff Louder BMC (Foto by Tim De Waele)
Winner of the Queen Stage: Jeff Louder BMC (Foto by Tim De Waele)

BMC’s Jeff Louder wins Tour of Utah’s Queen Stage

16. August 2008

Snowbird

With over 14,000 feet of climbing facing the riders in Saturday’s Deer Valley to Snowbird road race, everyone was going to need to come equipped with their climbing legs in tact.  BMC had a luxury of choice with three riders in the top six going into the stage. 

The lumpy first section of the race would act as a warmer-upper for the riders before they had to tackle three massive climbs in succession.  With a finish line at above 8000 feet, whoever was going to win the day had to have a knack for working hard at altitude.  BMC’s Jeff Louder used his local knowledge and kept his cool well enough to win the stage ahead of an elite group of climbers.

Two guys doing the work of four

BMC could consider itself lucky to have had three potential GC cards to play on the day.  But with three riders being protected, that left only two actually doing the support work.  “I can’t say enough about how the team rode today,” Louder beamed with pride.  “Considering the competition and the fact that it was really just Jonathan and Ian left to do the work, they managed to keep us right where we wanted to be.” “This group is not the same team that they were even a month ago,” Gavin Chilcott said.  “Everything really, really clicked for them.” The stage started off well for the team when Ian McKissick managed to insert himself into an important break.  “Ian went in the early move, which took a lot of pressure off us,” Louder said.  “And it wasn’t an easy move to make, since it had several top riders and they all went at a pretty tough section of rode.”  Race leaders Garmin had to ride on the front to make certain the situation didn’t get out of hand.  “Ian getting into the move really took the heat off us, since Garmin had to do the chasing,” Lill reiterated.  “And then Jonathan set a really good tempo over the climb.” “Jonathan set a blistering pace up Alpine Loop which really whittled the field down, separating the wheat from the chaff,” Louder continued.  “He basically brought the break back on his own, and then we railed it down the descent, after which Ian made sure to slip into another move.  Honestly, Brent, Darren and I were able to sit and watch the others react to the efforts Jonathan and Ian made.”  Coming into the final climb, BMC still had all five of its riders in the main group.  And they would come to be thankful for the advanced and detail knowledge they had of the final climb.

Tackling the beast 

“Coming into the final climb there is a short tough hill that Danielson, Caldwell and Sevilla attacked on this afternoon,” Louder said.  “This is where it was really helpful for us to know the course since we knew that this was way too early to attack and that we could catch them over the top, so Ian just pegged them and brought them back once we crested the little rise.”  The final climb has been very much on the minds of any racers with a hope of winning the overall.  “It is the sort of climb that is so tough that you really are just going mano a mano,” Louder said.  “Jeff really rode that climb brilliantly,” Chilcott explained.  “He is keenly aware of his strengths and when to pick his battles.  It was a master class of elegant racing.”  On a climb so tough that there really isn’t any benefit from drafting, each rider ends up riding his own tempo or blowing up.  “Chadwick attacked at the bottom, almost exactly the same place he attacked in 2006,” Louder said.  “At that point I knew I just had to go at my own tempo. Swindlehurst and Baldwin kept attacking each other and I kept pegging them back; I knew I couldn’t play their game.”  Race leader Blake Caldwell jumped the group after Glen Chadwick had made a sharp attack too.  “I knew the climb and knew that at this altitude I couldn’t go too deep too early,” Louder reasoned.  “The top of the climb levels out to 5 or 6% which is much better for me.  And I also generally perform better the higher the altitude gets, so I knew I should just go my tempo.”  “At this altitude it is so easy for a rider to blow up,” Chilcott said.  “And Jeff was able to pin Caldwell back even after he had gained maybe 30 seconds on Jeff; that is really impressive.”   Louder slowly managed to pick off all the racers who had been attacking on the lower slopes of the climb.  “I didn’t want to play around, but rather just ride at my hardest maintainable effort,” Louder said.  “Caldwell had spent a lot of energy, so when I caught him there was around 800 meters left to climb, and I knew the last 500 meters very well, so I just went 100% and was able to gap Caldwell off.”

Now the time trial

“Jeff rode an inspired race today,” Chilcott said.  “And we believe that his gap to the overall lead is surmountable even though tomorrow’s time trial is quite short.” As if an inform Louder is not formidable enough, he also has the added incentive of winning his home race.  “I am not taking anything for granted, but I would very much like to win the race to repay the team for all the hard work that they have put in all this week,” Louder said.  “This race has already been such a success though for us, since we have been having so much fun as a team.  And I have to say that the one thing that really motivated me today was knowing that my wife and daughter were watching, and waiting for me at the top of the climb today.”