The Tour of Utah

Posted On
Jun 03, 2013
Category
North
By Tara McKee – "The geography in Utah is unique. I've been around the world and you just don't find the high mountains, the desert, the red rocks, the aspen trees and the Great Salt Lake. It's all very unique and definitely worth a trip."
--Levi Leipheimer, American Pro Cyclist

 

The Tour of Utah, one of the continent's longest running UCI America Tour stage races, offers spectators some incredible opportunities. This free admission event gives fans unequalled access to world-class cyclists and prestigious teams before, during and after the race and showcases the diversity of Utah's beautiful natural landscapes. This year the race becomes a true tour of the state as it kicks off in the red rock country of southern Utah and winds its way up north to the mountains of the Wasatch Front. Coming just two weeks after the Tour de France, many pro cyclists are ready for the next challenge. The Tour of Utah offers exactly that with a 600 mile race with close to 42,000 feet of total elevation gain. In fact, the race has been dubbed "America's Toughest Stage Race."  Cycling fans get to see up-close the kind of battles normally reserved for the Alps or Pyrenees as top athletes face relentless mountain climbs, punishing challenge of desert courses, unpredictable weather, and fast-paced urban circuits during the six days of the tour.

 

The Tour of Utah, now in its ninth year, has grown steadily to become a top international race. This year's Tour begins with the Team Presentation on August 5th.  Then it's off to the races August 6-11! The 2013 Tour will mark the first time it has expanded to the southern Utah. Steve Johnson, president and CEO of USA Cycling, was pleased to hear about the expansion of the Tour of Utah throughout the state. "This is some of the most beautiful geography in the entire world and to get a chance to showcase that as part of a bicycle race is just a wonderful opportunity. It's been wonderful to see the Tour of Utah grow to the point that it has. It probably is one of the top four races in the entire American continent."

 

The Tour of Utah is a fan friendly event that provides plenty of opportunities to watch and become immersed in the full experience of a professional cycling race. Along the course, fans can see and photograph the cyclists as they race past. At the start of each stage, fans can meet the cyclists up close as they line up for the formal sign-in ceremony or during an autograph alley. The finish line becomes a festive atmosphere as the crowd gathers to watch the exciting final miles of the stage unfold live on large screens. The festival area at the finish is definitely the place to be, with family activities, cycling vendors, food and entertainment.

 

To help keep track of the progress, smartphone and online users can download the free Tour Tracker app which provides previews of the course and the teams, live video of the race, text commentary, results, standings and summaries. The Tour of Utah also offers special VIP Hospitality passes and "Experience" packages that afford unique and up-close experiences for cycling fans. For those who'd like to test themselves by riding the same mountainous "Queen Stage" route as the competitors do, the Tour of Utah will give them the "Ultimate Challenge." This popular, fully supported ride begins four hours before the tour riders begin Stage Five. New for 2013 is a special women's version of this ride, the "Ultimate Challenge Femme." Visit the Tour of Utah's website to register in advance for an ultimate road cycling experience, find out about package deals or get suggestions for the best places for viewing the race along the course: www.tourofutah.com

Travel Guide to the 2013 Tour of Utah


Cedar City will be the setting for the Tour of Utah's team Presentation Ceremony conducted on the eve of the race. This formal ceremony is a long-held tradition before stage races and offers a great chance for fans to get an introduction to the teams and the cyclists. Cedar City, also known as "Festival City, USA" and home of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, will offer a unique and dramatic backdrop for this event. As Shakespeare himself once said, "The play's the thing." While in Cedar City, race fans may wish to take in a play. Early August offers great choices at the Tony-Award winning Utah Shakespeare Festival (www.bard.org) and the Neil Simon Festival (www.simonfest.org).

 

The Tour gets a high altitude start at Brian Head, one of the highest elevation towns in the US. To give it another perspective, at 9,800 feet, Brian Head sits at a higher elevation than any of the mountainous passes the Tour de France riders have ever reached throughout its history. Brian Head resort, a premier winter destination in southwest Utah, is conveniently located within a three hour drive from Las Vegas or Salt Lake City. The resort is a pleasant respite from summer heat, surrounded by alpine forests just north of Cedar Breaks National Monument and west of the Dixie National Forest. The Tour races down from Brian Head and into Cedar City, just a scenic 45 minute drive.

 

Wednesday's official starting line will be in Panguitch, at 6,600 feet another high altitude start for the riders. Stage Two will climb to 9,591 feet as the racers summit at Boulder Mountain and finally descend into the charming town of Torrey, over a stretch of road considered one of the most scenic highways in America. The route is dotted with beautiful scenery and small towns that still have a touch of their pioneer past. Highway 12 has been designated as a Scenic Byway and Utah's All American Road. First-time visitors will want to download or pick up a copy of the Route Guide to Scenic Highway 12 that outlines this spectacular countryside. Stage Two winds its way through the steep canyon walls of Red Canyon, traverses Bryce Canyon National Park and the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument, through the high alpine forests of Dixie National Forest and finishes near the entrance of Capitol Reef National Park. Not far off this Byway, visitors can access other natural attractions - Anasazi State Park, Calf Creek Falls, Petrified Forest State Park and Kodachrome Basin State Park. This part of Utah is a southwestern natural version of Disneyland - so many places to see, but no way to do it all in one day!

 

Stage Two will finish along the cottonwood tree-lined main street of Torrey, a town named after one of Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders. Torrey is situated right outside Capitol Reef National Park. Look for a picturesque reminder of Torrey's pioneer past, an original log schoolhouse with a bell tower and red sandstone steps just off Main Street. Visitors should certainly visit the jaw-dropping scenery and experience more of the sights of Capitol Reef. Many of the park's best known rock formations have names that Indiana Jones himself would appreciate: Castle Rock, Egyptian Temple, the Temple of the Sun, the Temple of the Moon, and the Golden Throne.  If time permits, drive (4WD recommended) into spectacular Cathedral Valley.

 

Thursday's Stage Three takes the race from the mile-high city of Richfield, in the central region of Utah, to Payson in southern Utah County. Richfield is an outdoor recreation haven thanks to its proximity to the Fishlake National Forest and the top-ranked Paiute Trail that offers off-road enthusiasts, mountain bikers and equestrians over 1000 miles of trail to explore. Just south of Richfield is the famous Big Rock Candy Mountain and opportunities for even more family-friendly recreation: kayaking, whitewater or float trips on the Sevier River and biking on the paved Candy Mountain Express bike trail.

 

Payson, nestled against the foothills of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains will be the setting for Stage Three's finish area.  As visitors drive up Payson's historic Main Street, they'll notice quaint boutiques and small town charm, akin to the fictional Mayberry. The old-fashioned feel to Payson has been used to good effect by the film industry for movies such as the 1984 hit Footloose. While there, treat yourself to an icy lime sherbet or creamy milkshake from the Daley Freez, a classic mom & pop malt shop.

 

Stage Four's urban eight-lap circuit race in Salt Lake City is designed for crowd appeal and offers plenty of chances to get action photos of the racers as the excitement builds over the course of the race. The setting for the start and finish area is the park-like grounds of Utah's State Capitol building, which is beautifully set on a hill overlooking the city to the south. To the east side of the capitol grounds and down a steeply sloped hill is Memory Grove, an urban park landscaped with gently curving and undulating paths and a bubbling stone-lined creek, appropriately named City Creek.

 

City Creek is also the name of the new retail centerpiece in the heart of downtown Salt Lake. It offers a unique shopping environment with a retractable glass roof, a creek that runs through the property stocked with fish, two 18 foot waterfalls and an upscale food court. City Creek Center features a world-class shopping experience with over 100 shops and restaurants in a pedestrian friendly environment. City Creek offers plenty of outdoor dining opportunities in a beautiful setting.

 

Bike-friendly Salt Lake City has proclaimed 2013, the "Year of the Bike," and it is a great year to explore it by peddling. Look for the green Bike Share cycles for short rides or, for a longer outing, several bike shops offer road and mountain bike rentals.  Free route maps are available at bike shops or from the Visitor's Center located in the Salt Palace. Cyclists who don't mind a ride with a climb can head up the paved City Creek Canyon road, located near the Capitol and just upstream from Memory Grove. This road is closed to cars but open to bikes on odd days.  Friday morning, August 9th would be the perfect opportunity to experience this out-and-back 12-mile route that follows the twists and turns of City Creek up the canyon with cool shady spots along the way.

 

Stage Five is the Tour's "Queen Stage" (the grand day in the mountains for the climbers) and this year's Tour races from Snowbasin Ski Resort to its traditional finish locale at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort. The new changes in this route mean even more climbing as the riders ascend 13,000 feet over a distance of 112 miles. Snowbasin has a long history as a ski resort dating back to 1939, making it one of the oldest continually operating ski resorts in North America. During the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Snowbasin was the venue for the men's and women's downhill, super G and combined ski races. Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, located just south of Salt Lake City, will be the setting for an epic climb finish. Snowbird, voted Outside magazine's Number 1 resort in North America, is located up Little Cottonwood Canyon and shares its location among the spectacular granite peaks with nearby Alta Ski Area. Although this is a cycling race, Stage Five pays tribute to Utah's skiing heritage as it winds past many of Utah's other famous ski resorts: Canyons Resort, Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, Solitude and Brighton before the contenders make their strenuous final climb up to Snowbird. This stage showcases the impressive athletic skills of these cyclists and fans can find prime vantage points along the road to watch the riders face the final grueling climb up Little Cottonwood Canyon.

 

During the summer the cool mountain air of Utah's Wasatch mountain, ski resorts offer a break from the valley heat and provide an opportunity to experience these famous ski resorts in a new way. Families can take the opportunity to enjoy the summer mountain activities offered at many of Utah's resorts: alpine slides and coasters, ziplines, disc golf, climbing walls, scenic tram rides, mountain biking, hiking, gold panning, and fun activities for even the youngest children. Each resort has something unique to offer and restaurants provide mountain air dining that ranges from rustic comfort food to elegant award-winning cuisine.

 

The final leg of the Tour, Stage Six, will start and finish in Park City, but riders will spend much of their time racing through rugged and mountainous Summit County passing through the towns of Kamas, Francis, Woodland, Heber and Midway. The racers will ride through Deer Valley Resort and right past Wasatch Mountain State Park, the setting for the Nordic and cross-country ski events during the 2002 Olympics. Since then, the park has continued to host various cross-country ski championships at the Soldier Hollow area.

 

During the height of summer, Park City, famed as a winter playground and the home of the Sundance Film Festival, provides even more fun-filled activities.  Visitors enjoy exploring Historic Main Street and biking the trails around town (trail maps are available at the visitor's center and all bike shops.)  Nearby, the Olympic Park offers the chance to watch recreational and high performance athletes in training. Visitors can try out the summer's offering of extreme sports such as the bobsled or the Adventure Course and Drop Tower. Other popular activities at the Olympic Park include watching Saturday afternoon's Freestyle Aerial Show or visiting the Alf Engen Ski History Museum and the 2002 Eccles Winter Olympic Museum.  (Admission to the museums and Olympic Park venue is free.)

 

The 2013 Tour of Utah will end with a festive finish right on Park City's Main Street where the race's champion will be crowned. The ceremony will offer one last chance to see your favorite riders and teams at the close of an exciting six days. Be sure to pick up some official merchandise as a souvenir of the 2013 race, before heading off to one of Park City's award winning restaurants to cap off your week.

Other activities to see and do:


Stage One: The surrounding natural beauty near Cedar City is stunning and hikers may want to take the opportunity to take a half-day hike into Kanarra Creek Falls for taste of a classic Southern Utah slot-canyon hike. This photogenic hike through twisting and turning multi-hued rock takes only a half day and requires no permit. The trailhead is accessed in Kanarraville, located only 12 miles south of Cedar City. The 3.5 mile hike is watery, so bring river hiking shoes. Hikers may enjoy a refreshing swimming hole with a mossy rock slide at the end of the trail. A parking fee is required near the trailhead.

 

Stage Two: Panguitch, the location of the start of Wednesday's race is only a few short miles from Bryce Canyon National Park as well as Red Canyon. Both are great places for hikes and also offer trails for biking. Red Canyon has an easy family-friendly paved bike trail that follows along Highway 12 through stands of Ponderosa pines and past its walls of exposed orange-red sandstone. Historic Ruby's Inn, located near the entrance to Bryce Canyon, has mountain bike rentals and a shuttle that goes right to the best of the park's trails. The pink and salmon-colored hoodoos and giant rock amphitheaters in Bryce are always amazing to behold, but become spectacular in the glow of a sunrise or sunset. If a visit is planned just right, amateur photographers can snap some impressive photographs of these photogenic rock formations.

Sidebar


When you can't be there in person, you can view Tour of Utah action live on Fox Sports (national cable and satellite), and via Tour Tracker™ (Internet and mobile devices.)
Multiple Regional Broadcast, national coverage
2 Hours daily (Estimated start times. Final times TBD)
Tue, 8/6 – 4pm - 6pm
Wed, 8/7 – 4pm - 6pm
Thu, 8/8 – 4pm - 6pm
Fri, 8/9 – 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm
Sat, 8/10 – 4pm – 6pm
Sun, 8/11 – 4pm – 6pm or 5pm – 7pm
Recap Program
Show airs nightly at 11:00pm, per time zone, live (6 total per week)

 

Adobe Tour Tracker™ Multi-screen live, video stream
Live, daily coverage, start to finish, via webcast, and mobile app. iPhone, Android, iPad
www.tourofutah.com

Tags

Road Cycling, Events, Cedar City, Park City, Brain Head, Snowbird, Snowbasin

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