Evans Sprints to Victory in Queen Stage of Tour of Utah
Evans and Rosskopf and two others were the last four survivors from a breakaway group of fifteen that formed early on and that included fellow BMC Racing Team riders Yannick Eijssen, Michael Schär and Danilo Wyss, who rode in proud support of the former Tour de France champion.
Evans bridged a two-and-a-half minute gap on the day's second climb to join the escape 130 kilometers from the finish of the 172.5 kilometer stage. "We had a good, aggressive plan for the whole team," Evans explained after being celebrated on the Tour of Utah podium in Snowbird. "Michi and Danilo and Yannick really played the plan to a 'T' getting in the first move, and then I managed to get across to it. We put some pressure on Garmin-Sharp-POC, which was the main goal of our plan."
Sitting ninth overall, the former world road champion was the virtual race leader for a time as the breakaway made its way over two more climbs to the base of the Snowbird ascent. "It was looking good for a while there depending on how strong (race leader) Tom Danielson and the Garmin-Sharp-POC team could be on the last climb," Evans said.
Evans said he had to ride strategically as the four neared the Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort with the gap to a chase group hovering at 25 seconds. "I had to save some legs for the finish and defend any strong attacks on the last section of the climb if I wanted to have any interest in the stage," he said. "So there was a bit of two or three different levels I was playing there. In the end, I made a move up on the general classification, but the stage win was more important."
Hermans, who was runner-up on Stage 4's mountain-top finish Thursday, stayed third overall behind Danielson and Christopher Horner with a day of the race to go after spending the last eight kilometers chasing the two riders immediately behind him in the standings, Winner Anacona of Lampre-Merida and Wilco Kelderman (Belkin Pro Cycling Team).
Nursing wounds from a crash late in Friday's stage, Hermans said he climbed at his own pace. "I didn't want to blow up," he said. "I stayed at 50 meters behind them for five or six kilometers, but I could not come closer." At the finish, he had conceded time to both but remains 26 seconds ahead of Anacona and 34 ahead of Kelderman. "I hope I can hold them off tomorrow and have a better day," Hermans said. "Today, I did not feel as good as the other days."
BMC Racing Team Sport Director Jackson Stewart said he drew up a plan of attack in the pre-race meeting that would force Garmin-Sharp-POC to work hard to defend the lead Danielson gained on Stage 4. "It was really our only option," Stewart said. "The only way for Ben to have a good ride was if the other guys got softened up before the last climb. In all facets of the plan, we could only gain, not lose."
Sixth on the stage, Danielson leads Horner by 57 seconds and Hermans by 1:26 with only Sunday's 125.5 kilometer stage to go. Evans climbed from ninth to sixth and is 2:29 behind Danielson.