Rally Cycling’s Kyle Murphy finished third on the brutal Mt. Nebo stage two of the Tour of Utah today. The 142 km loop in Payson was the first General Classification (GC) showdown of this year’s race and the native Portlandian passed with flying colors, attacking the yellow jersey group over the day’s only climb and then sprinting to third from a small group of GC contenders. The result moved Murphy into fourth overall, 37s down on stage winner and Rally Cycling alum, Sepp Kuss (Lotto Jumbo). Defending champion Rob Britton finished 15th, 1m 49s down.
“I’m pretty surprised with third today,” said Murphy. “I felt pretty terrible yesterday but the legs came around today. I’m happy with the result and happy to do something for the team. We’ve all been supporting each other for the last month and I’m just glad all of the hard work is paying off.”
The stage began, as it did yesterday, with a flurry of attacks eventually drawing out yesterday’s Most Aggressive Rider winner Evan Huffman. Huffman led a break of six riders onto the lower slopes of Mt. Nebo before the fireworks began from the GC favorites, which included Murphy.
On the long descent back to Payson, Murphy escaped for a short while with Education First’s Hugh Carthy and Aevolo’s Luis Villalobos. The trio pulled out a lead of 30 seconds in pursuit of Kuss but was eventually reeled back in by the BMC led chase. Murphy had a close call on the final descent when Mike Woods (EF Drapac) crashed in front of him.
“I dropped my chain and almost went down to avoid the crash,” said Murphy. “I felt pretty confident in a bunch kick so I composed myself at the back of the group and hit out inside the last kilometer for third place.”
Defending champion Rob Britton was not on his best day and gave Murphy the nod to follow moves on Mt. Nebo. When reporters at the finish line asked Murphy about taking over team leadership, he was quick to remind them just how dangerous of a rider Britton is.
“It’s a pretty long race and you can never count that guy out, he has a massive engine,” said Murphy. “He’s a complete monster and has so much depth. We now have the freedom to send him up the road and that guy can ride away from anyone on a good day. For now, I’ll try not to get too stressed out and concentrate on having a good time.”
Tomorrow’s 188 km stage three from Antelope Island to Layton is a good day for the breakaway since the GC teams will be more concerned with marking each other than chasing stage honors. The sprinter’s teams may be forced to do the majority of the pace making to keep things together for a field sprint. Rally Cycling’s Ty Magner arrived home safely today in the main field and will look to seize upon the flatter terrain of tomorrow’s stage in the event of a sprint.
Stage 2 Results
1 KUSS Sepp TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO USA 3:25:58 0:00:00
2 * POWLESS Neilson TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO USA 3:26:27 0:00:29
3 MURPHY Kyle RALLY CYCLING USA 3:26:27 0:00:29
4 * VILLALOBOS Luis Ricardo AEVOLO MEX 3:26:30 0:00:32
5 HERMANS Ben ISRAEL CYCLING ACADEMY BEL 3:26:30 0:00:32
6 WOODS Michael EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE CAN 3:26:30 0:00:32
7 BOOKWALTER Brent BMC RACING TEAM USA 3:26:30 0:00:32
8 HAIG Jack MITCHELTON-SCOTT AUS 3:26:30 0:00:32
9 MANNION Gavin UNITEDHEALTHCARE USA 3:26:30 0:00:32
10 SWIRBUL Keegan JELLY BELLY pb MAXXIS USA 3:26:30 0:00:32
General Classification after Stage 2
1 KUSS Sepp TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO USA 7:49:37 0:00:00
2 * POWLESS Neilson TEAM LOTTO NL-JUMBO USA 7:49:58 0:00:21
3 VAN GARDEREN Tejay BMC RACING TEAM USA 7:50:02 0:00:25
4 MURPHY Kyle RALLY CYCLING USA 7:50:14 0:00:37
5 DOMBROWSKI Joseph EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE USA 7:50:15 0:00:38
6 MANNION Gavin UNITEDHEALTHCARE USA 7:50:15 0:00:38
7 CARTHY Hugh John EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE GBR 7:50:15 0:00:38
8 WOODS Michael EF-DRAPAC pb CANNONDALE CAN 7:50:16 0:00:39
9 HAIG Jack MITCHELTON-SCOTT AUS 7:50:17 0:00:40
10 BOOKWALTER Brent BMC RACING TEAM USA 7:50:17 0:00:40