The Trek-Segafredo climbers are in a good position for the rest of the week, sitting in 3rd, 4th in the overall classification.
The finish up the grueling Powder Mountain climb in stage two at the Tour of Utah lived up to its pre-race hype. The steep gradients quickly sorted the climbers from survivors and by the last five kilometers, it was every man for himself.
Out of the skeleton group of climbers that formed in the early part of the 11-kilometer ascent, Peter Stetina was the first to bite. His attack with seven steep kilometers to go was bold, but with teammate Nikas Eg following just behind, not heedless.
It is a brute of a climb – over 10kms at a 10% average. I was feeling pretty good, and the boys rallied around me all day. We were having a lot of fun teaching the stagiaires how to work within the team, and they supported me greatly. I was feeling spicy and I wanted to be aggressive, so I hit out with 7kms to go on the climb. I had the feeling it wasn’t going fast enough and I went for broke early.
- Peter Stetina
A chase group of five formed behind Stetina that included Eg, and for a few kilometers, it looked like the brash move would hold. That is until Ben Hermans (Israel Cycling Academy) and prologue winner James Piccoli (Elevate-KHS) decided it was time to up the ante. The two quickly caught and passed Stetina.
Hermans’ pace soon became too much for the Canadian who also fell back, while behind Eg caught up to his teammate. Stetina was unable to stay with Eg, who could not close to Piccoli – not far ahead – who could not claw back to Hermans’ wheel. In the final few kilometers, it became a battle of each man versus the mountain, rather than man against man – it was that brutally steep.
The final climb was super hard. I really tried to pace myself, because the climb is at altitude and going to deep into red will make you pay. Pete did a really strong move and I thought he would succeed, so my initial plan was to stay with the group behind and keep an eye on them for Pete.
- Niklas Eg
I definitely paid a little bit for my efforts and I started to fade a bit when the leaders came by me. Niklas was waiting in the wings, and he rode a strong and steady pace and was able to keep the leaders close as well so we ended up 3rd and 4th on the stage and also have 3rd and 4th overall.
- Peter Stetina
Hermans’ experience and patience paid off as he took the stage honors and yellow jersey, 20 seconds ahead of Piccoli, who finished 15 seconds ahead of Eg. Stetina held on for fourth and behind, riders arrived one by one.
Eg and Stetina sit in 3rd (+45″) and 4th (+1′) overall respectively, giving Trek-Segafredo a handy two-punch against the other teams in the climbing days still to come.
It was definitely a really good team representation, and now we know we have one of stronger climbing teams in the race. Hopefully we can better our GC with the rest of the week still to play for. It was a really nice confidence boost, and we have obviously done our homework here.
- Peter Stetina