The day went as scripted until the climbing started. Then, in just a few short kilometers any hope of overall victory vanished for all but a few. Thanks to his teammates, Climbing ace Rob Britton had good position and attacked the climb with force. He finished fifth, following the decisive attack of eventual stage winner Lachlan Morton, and vaulted up the overall standings.
When the peloton hit the lower slopes of Mount Nebo, the breakaway’s advantage disappeared as the Jelly Belly team set a blistering pace to position Lachlan Morton for a run at the yellow jersey. Morton did not disappoint and went early on the climb's steepest slopes, with only Andrew Talansky (Cannondale-Drapac) able to follow. As the duo pulled away, Adrien Costa (Axeon-Hagens Berman) was able to bridge across. Behind the leading trio, Rob Britton combined forces with Darwin Atapuma (BMC) to give chase. Despite their efforts they slowly lost time, and over the top were 40 seconds down.
With 38 kilometers to the finish, the race was on to catch the three riders out front. On the fast, technical descent into downtown Payson, the leading trio extended their lead as Britton almost came to grief as a cow crossed the road only meters in front of him. Towards the bottom of the descent, Britton and Atapuma were joined by Atapuma’s BMC teammates Tyler Eisenhart and Joey Rosskopf. Although outnumbered in the group, the BMC trio provided much needed horsepower in the closing kilometers.
As the BMC trio towed Britton towards the finish, Morton, Talansky and Costa were fighting out the stage win. In the last kilometer, Morton made a strong move and soloed across the line a few seconds clear of Costa and Talansky. In winning the stage, Morton also took the lead in the general classification. Britton came across the line fifth, 1:22 later in the middle of a BMC sandwich, moving into sixth overall.
"This is my first new bicycle. Its a 2001 Diamondback Crestview. I was on top of Mt. Nebo earlier. I like to hang out on top and get used to the altitude! The best way to see a state is to follow a bike tour. I just hang out, crash wherever I crash and watch the race. It's a blast."
We met Charles Roebuck sweeping gravel and debris out of the corner at the base of Mt. Nebo. He has been working bike tours for nearly fifteen years.
"I bought it 20 or 30 years ago. It was a mountain bike and I put road tires on it. I get about 25 miles a day on it in the morning, 6 or 7 days a week. Its my form of entertainment and exercise. Almost everyone passes on their faster road bikes. But hey, if I got their quicker I wouldn't feel like I got the workout I needed."