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Tour of Utah’s Triple Whammy

Jan 20th, 2011 | By | Category: Blog, News, Opinion

A few months ago I ran into a friend of mine while awaiting a flight at Denver International Airport (which, by the way, is DEN not DIA!). He works for Medalist Sports (the company that puts on The Amgen Tour of California, Tour de Georgia, Tour of Missouri, and the Quizno’s Pro Challenge) so it made sense that he was likely in Colorado working on the Quizno’s Pro Challenge. What didn’t make sense was why he might be flying to Salt Lake City since he lives in the east.

I asked him about this and he told me, in confidence, that he was spending quite a bit of time in Utah lately. He sort of raised his eyebrows and gave me one of those, “you know what I’m trying to tell you, but can’t actually say out loud, right?” kind of looks. At which point it was only logical for me to assume that Medalist was being looked at to possibly put on The 2011 Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah. I considered that to be great news.

Don’t get me wrong. The Tour of Utah is and has been a fantastic race, but with the arrival of the Quiznos Pro Challenge, the instant credibility and popularity the Colorado race has received as a result of Lance Armstrong’s involvement, and its proximity in time to the Tour of Utah (Quiznos is Aug 22-28 and TOU is Aug 9-14), I’ve been pretty concerned about the future of “America’s Toughest Stage Race.” Would the Colorado race overshadow the Utah event and, thereby, cause its demise like so many other great American cycling events (I already mentioned the Tour de Georgia and Tour of Missouri, right?)?

Today we all received official confirmation (by way of a press release from the Tour of Utah) of my buddy’s raised eyebrows and not-so-subtle hint: Medalist Sports will indeed be managing race planning and operations for the 2011 edition of the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah.

Great news, right? Wait, it gets even better.

The release also says that the Tour of Utah is now UCI-sanctioned, ranking it at the top of road races in North America and ensuring that an international cadre of teams and riders will attend. Sweetening the deal is an increase in purse from $40,000 to a whopping $150,000.

From my perspective, the Tour of Utah is still in a fragile position, but this triple whammy of news gives it the shot in the arm it needed to hopefully keep it from the pro cycling race graveyard. The Tour of Utah now joins the Tour of California and the Quiznos Pro Challenge as the North American races everyone will watch and pay attention to. It is now up to the fans, the teams, the riders, Medalist, the Miller family, and the State of Utah to ensure that it lives up to expectations so that its future viability and popularity can be maintained.

As of today there can be no doubt that the Tour of Utah has come a long way from 2007 when that year’s event was canceled for lack of sponsorship. Let’s hope that today’s news means a long, healthy, exciting and prosperous life for America’s Toughest Stage Race.

Here is the complete press release from The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah:
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH (January 20, 2011) – Entering its seventh year in 2011, the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah cycling race has been elevated by the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) to one of the top three professional stage races for road cycling in North America. Organizers will invite 15 domestic and international professional cycling teams to participate and increase prize money from $45,000 to $150,000, as part of the UCI sanctioning rules. The six-day event, known as “America’s Toughest Stage Race”, will be held August 9-14, 2011, featuring a prologue and five stages for an estimated 400 miles of racing across traditionally diverse and mountainous terrain.

Steve Miller, president of the Utah Cycling Partnership which owns the Tour of Utah, announced that the event has hired Medalist Sports to manage race operations and logistics for the 2011 race. Medalist Sports will oversee the competition and technical production of the Tour, as well as the development of the local organizing committees in each start and finish venue. Medalist Sports specializes in the production of professional cycling competitions and mass-participation, fundraising events around the country. The company also is the event management arm for the Amgen Tour of California (May 15-22), USA Cycling Professional Championships (May 28-30) and the Quiznos Pro Challenge (Aug 22-28).

For 2011, the Tour of Utah will be part of the UCI America Tour, covering professional cycling events on both the continents of North America and South America. The UCI America Tour includes 34 sanctioned events for professionals in 2011. Tour of Utah and the Quiznos Pro Challenge are the only 2.1-class events in North America. The 2.HC (hors categorie) Amgen Tour of California received the highest rating of the UCI America Tour road calendar.

“It’s really quite an honor to be able to organize and host a race of this caliber and level. This is really big for Utah. Professional cycling provides a unique setting from which we can showcase our beautiful State. It’s great for spectators. It’s great for athletes and it’s particularly great for tourism,” said Miller, who first became involved with the event in 2005 as a sponsor. “We’re very grateful to the fans and sponsors, without whom, this race simply would not be possible. Whereas in years past we’ve been able to attract a handful of the world’s best racers, this year the entire field will be the who’s who of professional cyclists.”

The Tour of Utah began in 2004 as a three-day race and was upgraded to a National Racing Calendar event by USA Cycling in 2008. The Tour is now sanctioned by both USA Cycling, Inc. and the UCI, the international governing body for the sport of cycling.

“Thanks to the support and dedication of the Miller family, local sponsors and staff, The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah has very quickly grown into one of America’s top stage races,” said USA Cycling CEO Steve Johnson. “Now, with its placement on the UCI calendar as a category 2.1 stage race, the Tour of Utah will join the ranks of the world’s top cycling events and feature an international field with some of the best professional teams in cycling.”

One of the distinguishing elements in the elevated status of the 2011 Tour of Utah is that organizers are not allowed to include amateur teams and athletes, but are permitted to invite teams and athletes from the sport’s highest level, UCI World Tour, including UCI ProTeams, UCI Professional Continental and domestic Continental Teams. Amateur teams and athletes can only take part in NRC events and lower- rated UCI events, where they are eligible for domestic racing points.

A total of 15 professional teams will be invited to race the Tour of Utah, with organizers extending initial invitations to select UCI ProTeams later this month. Each team is expected to field a team of eight riders, for a total of 120 of some of the world’s best competing across the mountains, buttes and plateaus of Utah, vying for UCI points, award jerseys and cash prizes totaling $150,000. Last year’s race was won by Levi Leipheimer, a member of Team RadioShack (a UCI ProTeam) but racing as an individual with Mellow Johnny’s.

Announcements about confirmed teams and the host venues for each start and finish line will be made in February. The Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah continues to be free to all spectators, making professional cycling one of the most unique pro sports in the world today. Official information will be posted, and race fans are encouraged to follow updates on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah
Deemed “America’s Toughest Tour,” the Larry H. Miller Tour of Utah presented by Zions Bank, is a six-day, six-stage, professional bicycle road race along the Rocky Mountain’s Wasatch Range. It traditionally covers more than 400 total miles of racing through some of Utah’s most beautiful and challenging terrain. Now in its 7th year, the 2011 Tour of Utah is scheduled to take place August 9-14 as a UCI 2.1 sanctioned road race for the best pro cyclists in the world. The event is owned and operated by the Utah Cycling Partnership. The 2011 Tour of Utah will be accompanied by a colorful, rolling festival celebration that will take place at each day’s finish line host venue. More information can be found by visiting

About the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies
The Larry H. Miller Group of Companies began with a single automotive dealership, Larry H. Miller Toyota, in Murray, Utah in 1979. Since that time, the Group has amassed more than 80 businesses and properties in the western United States. Most notable are the Utah Jazz NBA professional basketball franchise, EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City, the Salt Lake Bees Class-AAA professional baseball affiliate of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, state-of-the-art Miller Motorsports Park, Megaplex Theatres across Utah and 40 automobile dealerships representing 23 different automotive brands in seven Western states.

About Medalist Sports
Medalist Sports, LLC is an international, full-service, sports management and production company. An industry leader, Medalist Sports specializes in the successful planning, promotion and management of special events, ranging from professional competitions to amateur experiences, to cause-related/fundraising events. Members of the Medalist team are proud to have been involved with and helped manage such events and properties as Tour DuPont, Tour of China, Amgen Tour of California, Quiznos Pro Challenge, Tour de Georgia, Tour of Missouri, the Lance Armstrong Foundation (Livestrong Challenge), USA Cycling Professional Championships, the Tour of Hope, The Dempsey Challenge presented by Amgen and more. Medalist Sports’ headquarters are located south of metro Atlanta at P.O. Box 415, Tyrone, GA 30290. The company website is

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  1. I’d be more worried about Quiznos than the Tour of Utah. No Lance at that race = no attention. And no attention means no sponsorship in 2012. Utah is established and can stand on its own even if it goes no more attention than it has in past years.