TOOELE Needing only seven seconds to snatch the Tour of Utah yellow jersey away from Blake Caldwell, Salt Lake's Jeff Louder emptied his energy tank into the short but technical time-trial course at Miller Motorsports Park hoping his best effort would be good enough.
He had to wait about 75 seconds as he cooled down on the back stretch of the course listening and watching before he raised his hand in the air and pumped his fist knowing he'd accomplished the goal he'd set for himself many months ago.
"Really, I just dug deep and thought about everything we (as a team) put in this week. I didn't want to let them down."
Louder, riding for BMC Pro Cycling and the second-to-last cyclist to start the 7.5 mile highly technical course around the race track, checked in with a time of 14:05. Garmin-Chipotle's Caldwell, entering the stage as the overall leader by a scant seven seconds, was last out of the starting blocks, but his time of 14:21 was not enough to retain his lead.
And in front of a partisan crowd cheering on the local kid, Louder's effort was more than enough to lock down victory and the winner's share of the $75,000 purse.
New Zealand's Glen Chadwick fresh off an appearance in the Beijing Olympics just a week ago finished third overall, 47 seconds back. Salt Lake's Burke Swindlehurst finished fourth, 27 seconds away from the podium and 1:13 back overall.
The race of truth, as time trials are sometimes called, pitted each cyclist in a race against the clock. Starting at one-minute intervals, cyclists navigated the technical race track while trying to maintain as high a speed as possible. Louder, traditionally a much stronger time trialist than Caldwell, had his father, Ken, riding along in the team car.
Ken Louder was quiet, though, letting the BMC team directors do all the talking.
"I didn't say a word," the elder Louder said. "But I was channeling all the things that cyclists think about. I wanted so much for him to do well. This is really neat."
Louder's time was also good enough to finish third in the stage. Bissel strongman Tom Zirbel scorched the track with an impressive clocking of 13:50 to win the day. BMC's Brent Bookwalter was the only other cyclist to beat 14 minutes, finishing second with a time of 13:59.
"I tried to make sure there were no mistakes on the turns," Zirbel said. "This is a pretty challenging course. So I just tried to keep my momentum through the turns as much as I could and use my strength to power it in the straights."
And though the day's race belonged to Zirbel, the day and the week were Louder's to celebrate.
Always within striking distance, Louder made his move Saturday during the demanding 98-mile journey up and down some of Utah's steepest canyons. He narrowed the gap Caldwell held to the seven seconds he needed and then let his experience and strength take him to the top of the overall podium where stood with his 1-year-old daughter Milana.
"It's sinking in," Louder said. I've raced all over the world and won a few races. But to be able to actually outright win the race ... you don't get this opportunity very often."
Racing on roads and in canyons he's grown up training on, the 30-year-old Louder needed virtually all of that knowledge to squeeze past the talented Garmin-Chipotle team.
"Caldwell rode an amazing race," Louder said. "He's on another level."
Louder and Swindlehurst weren't the only Utah natives in the race. With two teams filled with Utahns also participating, Nate Page, riding for the Canyon Bicycles-Utah All-Stars team, took the top Utahn honor and the red jersey that came with it. Page finished 48th overall with a total time of 13:43:56. He was followed by Eric Pardyak at 13:58:57.
"It's a big field," Page said, "and these guys are pretty fast ... But I'm really satisfied. I went as hard as I could and I'm happy with how it turned out."
Louder, likewise, could hardly wipe the smile off his face after winning in front of his friends and family."These are my roads," Louder said, "and these are my people."
Tour of Utah
Stage 5: Miller Motorsports Park Time Trial
Winner: Bissel's Tom Zirbel in 13:50
Overall winner: BMC's Jeff Louder in 13:10:57Highlight: Needing a time trial seven seconds faster than Garmin-Chipotle's Blake Caldwell, Louder places third in the stage at 14:05. Caldwell cross the line at 14:21.
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