Lill Wins Stage 2 of 2009 Tour of Utah
Darren Lill claimed victory for Team Type 1 Thursday on one of the most difficult days of the event billed as “America’s Toughest Stage Race.”
Lill won Stage 2 of the 2009 Tour of Utah by leaving some of North America’s best climbers behind on the steep slopes of the nearly 20-mile (32 km) climb up Mount Nebo. Not only was it the South African’s biggest win of the season, but it also came on the same day he was celebrating his 27th birthday.
"I've been looking for a win this year for a long time. I was praying the whole way,” Lill said. “It's great to win any race, especially a mountain top finish like this. It's quite an epic one, and to be able to win solo is rewarding, especially after such a long effort."
His gutsy, 22-second victory over Francisco Mancebo (Rock Racing) – his sixth win of the year – shot him from 39th place to second in the overall standings. He stands 35 seconds behind Mancebo. Defending Tour of Utah champion Jeff Louder (BMC Racing Team) is third, 40 seconds off the race lead.
Had Lill not lost time in a high-speed crash in the final 200 meters of Tuesday night’s prologue, the Salt Lake City resident might very well have donned the yellow jersey as race leader. But he will get at least two more chances to cut into Mancebo’s lead: Friday’s 9.2-mile (14.5 km) individual time trial at the Miller Motorsports Park and Saturday’s “Queen Stage,” a 96-mile (155 km) race from Park City to Snowbird Ski Resort. The six-day race concludes Sunday with a 90-minute criterium in Salt Lake City.
“We’ll see what happens up to Snowbird,” Lill said.
His victory is Team Type 1’s fifth in a National Racing Calendar (NRC) event this season and its 51st overall.
Lill made the winning move by dropping Rock Racing’s Oscar Sevilla on the leg-breaking climb to Mount Nebo that began 55 miles into the 77-mile (123 km) stage and topped out at more than 9,350 feet. At one point, Lill led by more than a minute before attacks from behind whittled down his winning margin.
Team Type 1 Assistant Director Gord Fraser said Lill even had a close encounter of a strange kind at one point in the final miles.
“A small herd of cattle jumped out on the road just behind Darren and knocked into my drivers' side door,” Fraser said.