Schär Wins Stage 2 at Tour of Utah 2014
In remarkable and impressive fashion, BMC Racing Team's Michael Schär soloed the final sixty kilometers out of the day's breakaway, survived a bout of leg cramps and held off a furious chase by the peloton to score his first victory of the season in stage 2 of the 2014 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.
Schär saw a more than four-minute lead over the top of the last climb – 38 kilometers from the finish – reduced to mere seconds inside the final kilometer of the 210.3 kilometer race. "The finish line really couldn't come soon enough," Schär said with a big smile on his face. "I had a lot of cramps the whole downhill. But then, in the last five kilometers, it got better. I got some power again and I was on my threshold. But with 500 meters to go, I got a big cramp on my right side. I pushed through it and I didn't look back any more. I remembered never to look back, to never give them anything."
Schär crossed the finish line two seconds ahead of Jure Kocjan (Team SmartStop Pro Cycling) who took over the Tour of Utah race lead. "I gave it all I had to the line," Schär said. "They say if you never try, you never win. I am not a sprinter. I am not a super good climber. I have to win my races from breakaways."
Schär's nearly 200 kilometers on the front of the race began with five others. One-by-one, the fellow breakaway participants dropped off and returned to the main peloton as four categorized climbs were tackled, the last of which was where Schär shook free from Joey Rosskopf of Hincapie Sportswear Development Team.
"We really knew this was a day Michi could stay away if he got over the top of Boulder Mountain," BMC Racing Team Sport Director Jackson Stewart explained. "In the grand scheme of things, we didn't necessarily want him to take the yellow jersey. But we wanted to be represented, go for the stage win and not miss out on a group that would affect the general classification." Schär – who earned most aggressive rider honors for his courage – missed taking the race lead by two seconds.
Fellow BMC Racing rider and former Tour de France champion Cadel Evans is now fifth overall, 12 seconds off the lead.
Evans said he was especially happy to see Schär earn his second career victory. The 2013 Swiss national road champion helped Evans win the Tour de France in 2011. "It was a pretty hard day for everyone today. Of course for Michi, it was probably the hardest day of all," Evans said.
"But even in the group, it was solid chasing behind. So it was interesting to see which teams had the strength and I think we softened a few legs up. We will see Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday how the guys rebound from their efforts."
Wednesday's stage 3 of the 2014 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah is a 190.3 kilometer ride, which features only one categorized climb and finishes at the Miller Motorsports Park.