Ciclissimo! is back on the road with Team Novo Nordisk, the world’s first all-diabetes pro cycling team, at the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. We’ll be following the fortunes of their new stagiaire, 25 year old Isle of Man native, Sam Brand. Sam had been making waves – most probably in the swim leg – on the National and European triathlon circuit (ignore my flippancy, silver in the 2015 British Championships is no joke) before switching solely to cycling for 2016. Already on the TNN radar after his strong tri’ results, Sam secured himself a place on their development squad and continued to impress. A mid-season call up to a hard fought, seven-day mountainous stage race debut with the Team Novo Nordisk full pro-squad is his reward. Ciclissimo! will be following Sam first-hand on this journey through the Hollywood-Western ‘big country’ vistas of America’s mountain belt.
Stage 6: Heber Valley – Snowbird, 99km
Headlines from Stage 6 dispatches tell of Rally Cycling’s Rob Britton deftly policing his GC rivals up the final climb to defend his yellow jersey and Bardiani-CSF’s Giullio Ciccone disappearing into thin air with 5km to go to add a Tour of Utah stage victory to his home turf Giro D’Italia one. But here at Ciclissimo! it was all eyes on a pensive Sam Brand as he signed on for the Queen Stage of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. 100km with two visits to just under 2500m above sea level awaited. “This is going to be brutal” quipped Fitzalan, Team Novo Nordisk’s Press Officer Deluxe. The young stagiaire was well into uncharted territory – but with the end tantalisingly within sight…
I was definitely more nervous for this stage than any of the others.. I think with it being the Queen Stage and with the GC still wide open, I was concerned that it would be a lot harder. I went back to the default that I’ve been doing—the more I get wound up, the more nervous I get. I tried to settle myself down before I got to the start line and remind myself that it could only be a few hours of suffering and I knew I could get through it.
When the racing began we actually went easy until the first climb with the break going at Kilometer Zero. Everyone was waiting for the climb. I knew that I needed to find a group with good riders, which I managed to do. I settled down in the first couple of kilometers. It was hard but it felt good.
We crested the first climb and hit the descent –I t was all a bit nervy because a couple of guys went down ahead of us. It was single file with everyone taking their own line. The roads were narrow. It was just like being on the Isle of Man. I knew to just stay with the groups and we would all descend at the same speed. Onto the final climb up to Snowbird. I was feeling okay and knew that we had a decent size group with some strong riders. I stayed focused and calm and worked my way up. I tried to stay at the front of the group and kept telling myself to find a position that would benefit me. Completing the Queen stage so deep into the race was definitely a monkey off the back. I finished in a pack of about 30-40 riders. Coming into the race, I didn’t know what it would hold. The fact that I’ve made it this far and tomorrow is the final stage, it feels pretty fantastic. I’m very proud and hope I can do the same on the final stage.
I’ve trained most of the season for circuit races in the United States, so I feel ready for it. My aim is to stay out of trouble and see how it all pans out. Hopefully we will be near the front and see what we can do…
All Photo Credits: VeloImages