By:Morgan Schmitt (Jelly Belly)
The Tour of Utah dubbed “Americas toughest stage race,” certainly lived up to its name. I have just completed my fourth edition and this year’s race was by far the most challenging route yet. So challenging some of us riders joked throughout the week of how a commemorative belt buckle or something upon completion of the tour would be a nice consolation prize. Despite its difficulty, we were given a totally new perspective of Utah’s beauty since this is the first time they included sections of Southern Utah. This part of the state is truly unique and every once in awhile when I wasn’t staring at the wheel in front of me I could catch glimpses of the scenery and realize why much of it is designated as national parks.
My Jelly Belly team had our share of small success throughout the week. We notched up two top 10’s and were represented in numerous breakaways. More importantly, we gained confidence for the upcoming USA Pro Challenge which is better suited for our squad especially with more sprint finishes for our current US national champion Freddie Rodriquez and a time trial for our TT specialist Sergei Tsvetkov.
For me the Tour of Utah was a bit of a relief since I hail from sea level and my altitude preparation seems to be paying off. I still wasn’t able to climb with the high altitude specialists but, I was able to climb well for myself and assist the team during the tour. After a week of challenging racing and now a week of recovery the team and I are excited to be racing at USA Pro Challenge!