Optum pro Carter Jones
notched three top 10 performances that culminated with a 6th place
on the final stage and 7th on GC at the 2014 Tour of Utah. The Tour of Utah has come to be known as
America’s Toughest Stage Race and this year it lived up to its billing. With most of the race being done above 6500
ft and including climbs with extensive grades between 10 and 20% topping out at
9000 ft, it’s a race for the toughest of stage racers. Jones was the Optum team’s GC hope and he
didn’t disappoint with an 8th place finish on the first critical
stage (stage 4) that finished on the brutal Powder Mountain climb. On stage 6 to Snowbird ski resort, a break
including former Tour de France champion Cadel Evans, got away and although
Carter was 5th out of the main contenders, Evans jumped over him on
GC. On the final stage, that climbed
Empire Pass and finished in Park City, Jones and Evans battled up the climb in
an effort to reel in the leading four riders, including overall winner Tom
Danielson and second, Chris Horner. They
didn’t make contact before the final descent.
Evans put on a descending clinic to get the win and Jones finished 6th,
just 10 seconds back and 5 seconds behind Danielson. In the end, Jones finished 7th
overall, the top placed non World Tour rider.
Next up is the USA Pro Challenge, which presents another
opportunity for Carter to demonstrate his climbing prowess.