SALT LAKE CITY — The toughest stage race in America just got a little tougher.
And, according to at least one local pro cyclist, changes made to the 2012 Tour of Utah also make it a little more beautiful, too.
One of the most significant changes to this summer's race is changing the time trial from an individual trial to a team trial in Stage 2 at Miller Motorsports Park.
"It's an event where each team starts with all eight of its riders and rotates them through," said cyclist Tyler Wren. "It's really a beautiful type of cycling. It's really an art form. It will really be a spectacular event for spectators."
That change, along with several others, were announced at a press conference Wednesday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
"The beautiful thing is the tremendous support across the board," said Steve Miller, president of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. "It's an event that's really good for Utah."
In addition to changing the time trial from an individual to a team event, organizers also eliminated the Prologue in favor of six full stages. The race begins Aug. 7 with Stage 1 in Ogden, then moves to Miller Motorsports Park for Stage 2. Stage 3 will start in Ogden and end at the University of Utah's Research Park. Stage 4 will start in Utah County and end in downtown Salt Lake City.
And the "Queen Stage" will remain the same, except it is not the race's final stage.
Instead, Stage 6 will take place in Park City.
"The course is still under construction, but we're confident it will be a competitive and spectator friendly course," said Miller.
The citizen's ride will take place during the Queen Stage on Saturday and will allow participants to ride the same course, starting five hours earlier. Most, Miller said, will be caught by the professionals.
"That stage, there is no hiding," said Wren. "It's hot, slow, it's agonizing, even for the leaders. They look like they're suffering and they are."1 comment on this story
The race will attract the world's top professional teams, many of which will be coming directly from the Tour de France and the Olympics.
Jeff Louder, who won best Utah rider in last year's event and was the champion in 2008, said having eight of the best pro touring teams in the race proves what he has always known.
"It legitimizes the race," he said. "I've always felt it was (legitimately one of the world's best races), but you can't really back that up until you have the top pros competing. It also makes the race a whole lot harder."
He called the changes great for spectators.